Music | Pop Culture

8 Famous Songs That Don't Actually Mean What You Think

- Page 1

NME / Last FM

Many classic songs lend themselves to many different interpretations.

We tend to focus on the overall vibe of the song rather than the lyrics, and if we do, we don't think too much into it.

The thing is, even if you actually sat down and thought about some of these cryptic songs, you would never actually guess what they're really about.

Here are 8 famous songs that have been misunderstood for decades.

1. "I Shot the Sheriff" by Bob Marley

You can listen to this song hundreds of times and you would never guess the hidden meaning behind it. If you think this song is about a man who shoots the sheriff but insists he did not kill the deputy, you're wrong.

The 1973 reggae hit is actually a protest song against birth control. Marley believed that using birth control was a sin, and "the doctor who prescribed those baby-killing pills became the sheriff."

That belief highlights this passage from the song: "Every time I plant a seed, he said kill it before it grow."

2. "I Will Always Love You" by Dolly Parton

Before Whitney Houston sang the most romantic couple's song in the world, Dolly Parton wrote it. But it wasn't meant to be romantic...

The song is not about the end of romance, but about a professional breakup. Dolly wrote it in 1974 for her mentor and singing partner, Porter Wagoner, when she decided to start her solo music career.

3. "Respect" by Arethra Franklin

If this isn't every woman's empowerment song, then what is?

Sorry to break it to you, but the song was originally written from the perspective of a hardworking man who looks forward to coming home and getting the respect he deserves. Let's say you already knew that, but did you know the act of "respect" also refers to sex?

4. "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler

This power ballad is supposed to be about human love, right?

Songwriter Jim Steinman said in an interview, "I was trying to come up with a love song and I remembered I actually wrote that to be a vampire love song ...  If anyone listens to the lyrics, they're really like vampire lines. It's all about the darkness, the power of darkness and love's place in the dark."

You can never listen to these next classic songs again without thinking about their hidden meanings.

Page 1 Next Page

More Throwbacks


Nsync Claims They Were Better Than The Backstreet Boys And We Are Not Okay With It

When I was growing up, there was one band that was my one desire. That's right, Backstreet Boys were my everything. I knew every word, I knew a lot of the dance moves, and I could still tell you all of their full names. However, the 90s were a troubling time. Everywhere you looked, people were trying to make something controversial. They didn't want to just enjoy that glorious pop music, they wanted to pit the bands against each other. When *NSYNC entered the pop music game, everyone had to pick a side. Were you loyal to BSB, or were


The Spice Girls Are Apparently Making A Cartoon Superhero Movie And We're Ready For It

When the Spice Girls met up a several weeks ago, we all lost our collective minds. There was no patience involved, because we all knew that if they were all hanging out, something big must have been happening and we were 100% here for it. Well, we've had our hearts broken by Posh Spice herself when she told us that we weren't going to see a Spice Girls reunion tour, insisting that we had all gotten way too far ahead of ourselves. But she did seem to know that there would be something coming. “There’s something so strong in


The Backstreet Boys Are Trying Out The Food Industry Because They Really Do Want It That Way

The Backstreet Boys have been a surprisingly consistent presence in our lives since the 90s. While a lot of the other boy bands faded out over the last couple of decades, The Backstreet Boys aren't afraid to keep going and bring us those pop jams we've loved for so long. I honestly can't imagine my childhood without them. Well, to be completely honest three of their CDs are actually in my car right now. I can't help it, their music is perfect for road trips! Well now, our favorite pop group is not only filling our hearts, they are filling


20 Songs You Always Listened To On Your Discman That You Haven't Thought About Since

There really is no other way to put this, if you remember these songs you are definitely getting closer to 30+, than you are to 21. There are songs on this list that we wish we could forget, and the younger generation should be glad that they never had to live through a time where these were blasting on car radios. But some of these hits bring back memories of simpler times, handing out with our friends, doing things we enjoyed before we had to start "adulting".  1. Strong Enough - Cher Cher has been around forever. This isn't