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Old 02-17-2020, 08:35 AM   #1
The Great Saiyaman
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The big "How did it all end up like this?" songs thread.

Life has a way of throwing curve balls and often makes you go "How did it end up being like this?"

Of course that's a great topic for songwriters to use too and many well known songs are about that. So I figured it to be fun to talk about those songs and showcase them.

First up, here's The Who with their epic "Bell Boy"

In this song we find our protagonist in a situation where he runs into Ace, the former leader of the Mod gang he used to be part of. And he finds him employed as a BELL BOY. As Ace tells his story about his new life it goes from "Oh yeah, I'm in a good place, looking all flash in my uniform." to "Dude, I hate it, I'm underpaid, humiliating myself on a daily basis." He goes on about sleeping on the beach from time to time reflecting on the dreams he had to give up. When he goes "You could learn a lot of a life like mine" he's basically telling our guy "Get your life together, you do NOT want to end up like I did."

One topic frequently used in "How did it all end up like this?" is the midlife crisis and a guy who made himself a career about writing songs about that is Paul Simon.

According to "Classic Albums" Paul basically wrote about the average Joe who is basically an invisible entity on the street. The guy in his forties and what does he have to show for it? He's not married, no children, not successful. He doesn't stand out, made no difference in the world and is living with all the fears of the time (Mid 1980's Cold war, not a pleasant time) He's a softy in a world which DEMANDS him being tough as nails, how can he be what everybody expects him to be? But the Chorus is basically about our guy walking up to a woman and asking her "Can I make an alliance with you so we can face all of that together?" The last verse is about Paul himself, our guy finds himself in a completely different setting and he's blown away by all the positive mental attitude, the way these people carry themselves and he's happy with the woman at his side going through the journey to get there.

"Nowhere man" is basically John Lennon writing about himself, he's in his twenties, he's probably the biggest rock star on earth and he can barely comprehend what is happening.
- His marriage is falling apart.
- He barely knows his own son
- He goes to all of these amazing countries on tour but cannot leave his own hotel room because he'd be mobbed.
- He comes up with these GREAT songs but performing them live is basically impossible and with big PA systems being a thing of the future, the screaming girls in the audience would have drowned out the music anyway.
- Hamburg buddy (and future Plastic Ono band Bass player) Klaus Voorman said that he met up with John on the set of "Strawberry fields forever" and that the latter just burst into tears telling him how unhappy he was with all of it.

"Nowhere man" basically is telling the listener "Here's a man completely lost, so please be sympathetic, after all, don't we all have moments in our lives where we are lost too?" But it also is hopeful: "Nowhere man, don't worry, take your time, don't hurry, leave it all til somebody else lends you a hand." things will get better eventually.

Peter Gabriel was always very vocal in support of his former band Genesis after him leaving them in 1976. Always said that he thought Phil Collins was doing a brilliant job at fronting the band and singing the songs. (Although he also stressed that Phil didn't PERFORM the songs the same way he did.) So when the time came around to release his first solo album, he knew that everybody was watching his every move. He wrote a song about his departure from Genesis which became one of the all time classics of his solo material.

"Solsbury hill" clearly showcases the uncertainty. People telling him "You must be crazy to leave that band now that you guys are finally getting success." and the uncertainty about how the fans would react to his album. What WAS without question though is the big Thumbs up to his former band mates, a "Well done Lads!"

Once more Peter Gabriel. The idea of the song came about when in the early eighties, the UK Government decided to close all of the mines, putting many thousands of people out of a job. Gabriel put himself in the shoes of one of those miners, sitting there, their world destroyed, what future did he have left?

And then there's that soothing element of Kate Bush telling him to keep at it, better times will come eventually. In the "Classic albums" episode of the album "So" it was revealed that he actually wanted Dolly Parton to sing the female part, which producer Daniel Lanois said was "An inspired choice" but Parton couldn't be booked.

From one Prog rock legend to another. Roger Waters still says about this song that he wonders how he got away with writing it. But the universal truth of looking in the mirror one day and seeing the face of a middle aged man wondering where the teenager went hits everybody.

For me personally, the line "Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way." is such a poignant piece of poetry as well as it is a brutally honest view on the English.

Life has a way of confronting you without mercy and the next song on our list is about that. "Tragedy's a-Coming" by Primus.

According to Les Claypool, this song is about the death of his mother which was impossible for him to run away from and around that same time, his cousin to whom he's really close to fell ill to leukemia. Tragic events came at him one after another like bullets from a machine gun. The Video is from the point of view of a Lobster in a fish restaurant who knows that it takes only one customer who wants to have a Lobster dish for dinner to seal his fate. It's as simple and impossible to avoid as that, it just takes one person to say "I'll have the lobster."
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Old 02-17-2020, 10:03 AM   #2
MikeandRaph87
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Interesting topic. Good song choices too!

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2pqk09
End of The Innocence
Don Henley reflected on the Baby Boomer generation reaching middle age and the moment they lost their innocence with the JFK assassination. And so, childhood ideals, sincere patriotism, and pure first love give way to the harsh realities of the adult world as time wore on. While it takes quiet jabs at Reagan who had just finished his presidency it could be taken at politics in general at how an idealized country had become divisive and scandal ridden. In some ways its a negative take on Boys of Summer, getting a second chance with lost love and reconnecting with the good of the past with the present to make for a bright future.

Boys of Summer
https://uploadstars.com/video/YX8AW27OOBS9

Its a shame Don does not like his music on Youtube and the like similar to Bob Dylan and the late Prince. Wonderful tune and layered lyrics of reflection.
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Old 02-20-2020, 10:00 PM   #3
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You ever think about becoming an historian? You write passionately about some pretty cool topics. . .
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Old 02-26-2020, 07:19 AM   #4
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Here are a couple more Great Sayian:

Time After Time took Cyndi Lauper away from her other hits like Girls Just Want To Have Fun or True Colors that are more songs about liberation. This too is a bit of liberation, about a woman who is lost and needs to find herself beyond a relationship which has defined her.


Another one is Livin' On a Prayer. A partial ficitonal story part autobiographical song of Richie Sambora and his first love trying to make in the world.
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Old 02-28-2020, 04:04 AM   #5
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Well then here's a couple more.


Bruce Springsteen "the River"
Bruce Springsteen is the poster child for the kind of songwriter who writes about having to give up your dreams when life catches up to you. This song which talks about two teenagers who have to go through a shot gun marriage is sung with such an authenticity that people have no questions about Bruce singing it as he lived it, which actually is not the case. Regardless, the sentiment still rings true for a lot of people.


Rod Stewart "Young Turks"
Same topic as "the River", two teenagers having to deal with a pregnancy, but different from "the River", the two teens come across hostility from both their families and so they decide to run away, after all, they only have eachother and are going to do everything in their power to make it work out.

Once again: Paul Simon.

"The Obvious Child"
The title is actually a play of words as he sings "Why deny the obvious, child?" but within the context of some lyrics really is talking about Denying an obvious child. Anyway the song itself is about this guy named "Sonny" who at one time was a high school star athlete, gets married, becomes a father and one day goes "What happened to all the friends I had back then?" And as he traces them, finds out that not all of them have gotten successful, some of them couldn't deal with life as adults.
(This particular one actually rings a little too true for me personally as I too have wondered where all my high school friends went and learned that some of them actually took their own lives.)

But let's have some "Boy, sucks to be you, dude!" angry break up songs. Because that also counts as a "how did it all end up like this?" situation.


Janet Jackson "What have you done for me lately?"
Which is about her then husband James DeBarge. In the VH-1 show "Driven, the road to success" Janet's musical team Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis said that Janet often came into the studio ranting about her crumbling marriage and how James was doing VERY little to take care of her when she suddenly went "Hold on, I cannot be the only one who goes through this!" And thus the general topic of the album they were recording came to be: "Control" James DeBarge for his part said that he deserved every verbal punch that Janet gave him in the song, as he was strung out on Cocaine, spent all their money to support that habit and spent days on end just lying on the couch.


Alanis Morisette "You ought to know"
Which is about her then boyfriend Dave Coulier from the sitcom "Full house" Much like Janet Jackson, Alanis pulls no punches. Describing how she found Coulier's new girlfriend to be very similar to herself, a little TOO similar, so similar that they could have been twins. (Indeed, look up Melissa Bring, and you will see how she and Alanis are look-alikes, to a SCARY degree) The way she spits outs the lyrics about having an encounter in a cinema could have only come from personal experience.
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Old 02-28-2020, 01:43 PM   #6
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"The Boxer"


This song is a*folk rock*ballad that variously takes the form of a first-person lament as well as a third-person sketch of a*boxer. The lyrics are largely autobiographical and partially inspired by the*Bible, and were written during a time when Simon felt he was being unfairly criticized. The song's lyrics discuss*poverty*and*loneliness. Paul is a great storyteller in lyrics.

"In The Living Years"



 The song is written from the perspective of a son who has a conflicted relationship with his dad. After his father dies, he discovers that he and his dad had a much stronger connection than he realized, and he regrets not saying more while he was still alive. His father learned he would become a grandfather just before he died. Mike Rutherford composed this in tribute to the circle of life he experienced soon after Gensis broke up.

"In Your Wildest Dreams"

This song is about "the one who got away." Feeling a bit nostalgic, the singer wonders if his long-lost love remembers him the way he remembers her and she does. A tease of a second chance occurs when they realize this.
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Old 02-29-2020, 04:26 AM   #7
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One song of which people have gotten the meaning wrong is "Comfortably numb" by Pink Floyd, which has been adopted by stoners as the ultimate "Shooting-up-and-getting-high" song and the general public has taken the Stoner's opinion as being the truth.

But there's a reason why I name it for this list. Bass Player Roger Waters has written plenty of songs about the machine which is the music industry, (Songs like "Welcome to the machine" and "have a cigar" for example) where the high bosses make millions off his back and demand that he perform even when he's not able to.

In their defense, look at the logistics which come with doing a tour:
- You have to hire truckers to move the entire thing from city to city during the tour
- You have to hire a crew to build the stage
- You have to hire sound crew to make sure the shows sound good every night
- You have to hire special effects people to make sure the pyrotechnics
of a show will work as they should every single night. (Certainly for a
band like Pink Floyd, that's their bread and butter right there.)
- You have to hire promoters to make sure the venues can be booked.
AND
- You have to make sure that every single one of those people hired is
insured, because should a calamity happen to that said person, medical
bills would be taken care off by the insurance company.
So every single member of the tour crew (Which includes the band members
themselves) has to sign a contract which in return means:
- That they will be insured during that said tour.
- Will receive proper payment for their services for the full duration of that tour.
- Will be properly taken care of, have a bed to sleep in and enough to eat during the tour.

So needless to say, there's a lot of paychecks riding on an artist' career. The story of "The Wall" is about the said artist being run into total exhaustion, he has no normal life anymore, he's a puppet of the music industry, his marriage is falling apart and he basically closed himself off completely. (hence "The Wall")

So what is "Comfortably Numb" about? Quite frankly, it is about the one time when our protagonist is at ease, because he's dead, which is also why the song begins with the "Time to go!" shouts, they come from the road crew who are there to fetch our protagonist from his hotel room when he has to play the show. They find him with no pulse and not breathing.

The verses of "Hello is there anybody in there?" is the doctor checking up on our guy, using an Adrenalin shot to revive him "Okay, it's just a little pinprick." But the Doctor is not a well meaning Samaritan, he too gets his paycheck through our protagonist' ability to play shows, there is no "we have to take him to hospital so he can properly recover!" coming with THIS doctor, he goes "That will keep you going through the show, come on it's time to go!"

The Chorus "there is no pain you are receiving." is from the point of view of our protagonist as he's in his out of body state, the serenity he feels, finally free. But is brought back so he can play the show regardless.
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Old 02-29-2020, 12:58 PM   #8
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Old 03-02-2020, 12:43 AM   #9
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I never heard that interpretation of Comfortably Numb. I always heard it as the thoughts of an sick old man.
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Old 03-07-2020, 02:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Great Saiyaman View Post
Alanis Morisette "You ought to know"
Which is about her then boyfriend Dave Coulier from the sitcom "Full house" Much like Janet Jackson, Alanis pulls no punches. Describing how she found Coulier's new girlfriend to be very similar to herself, a little TOO similar, so similar that they could have been twins. (Indeed, look up Melissa Bring, and you will see how she and Alanis are look-alikes, to a SCARY degree) The way she spits outs the lyrics about having an encounter in a cinema could have only come from personal experience.
Of all the songs you posted I know them all, but this one. I am a hug Full House fan, but only know the bare minimum of Dave's two spouses.Looks like she was a rebound from the quick met/marry/have child/divorce with Modean. Though Coulier dated the much younger Bring years after this song was released so it could not have been Bring that Dave moved on with. I do see physical similarities of Morisette and Bring though.

Also, I can see the interpretation of Comfortably Numb because Pink Floyd like The Who and others used song to lash out at the establishment. In this case the music industry only interested in $ that a musical act makes them.
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Old 03-07-2020, 04:43 PM   #11
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Credence Clearwater Rival may fool people into thinking they are southern, but hail form San Francisco which is a hot spot of anti-war and liberalism even to this day. The song, released during the peak period of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, is not explicit in its criticism of that war in particular, rather, it "speaks more to the unfairness of class than war itself," according to its author, John Fogerty. "It's the old saying about rich men making war and poor men having to fight them." You could make a subtopic of a few hours worth of songs about Anti-Vietnam War movement, but this song stands above them all touching on the draft and arguably helped eliminate it as those who were able to go to college were exempt and those who were not were drafted.

"Fortunate Son".


Semisonic, arguably a one-hit wonder with "Closing Time" is about moving from one phase of life to another. Wilson revealed that the song also has a meaning that runs a bit deeper. It's partially inspired by the birth of his daughter, Coco. "The guys wanted a new song to close our sets with," Wilson says. "I thought 'Closing Time' would be a good title. We had spent seven years of our lives at that point, four nights a week entertaining people. That was our life. Some bouncers yelling things, closing time coming, all that imagery, literally, that's how the song started and then when I was halfway done, I started realizing the whole thing was a pun about being born, so I just made sure that the rest of the thing could ride with that double meaning, but nobody got the joke and I didn't bother to explain. I thought everyone would get it."


"Closing Time".

The story is chronological. It is about courtship, marriage, and eventual death. The two people in the song meet, court, fall in love (at this point, he reveals that he has never really made such a strong promise/commitment to someone) but feels he is ready to now. "See the children run," their offspring and the "jealous sky" refer to the Heavens. Even Heaven is jealous of their love/relationship. The esteemed sun is jealous. Eventually, he dies and tells his love that they will always remember their love specifically, when she thinks of him, he wants to be personified as such... walking in fields of gold (barley). Sting was inspired to write his best known solo hit when he bought his home near a barley field in England and was inspired by the beautiful sunset.

"Fields of Gold"

This song by Genesis was written by Mike Rutherford also of The Mechanics. While it may play on distaste with Ronald Regan's gung ho approach to the Soviet Union it is about abuse of political authority in general and displeasure with the whole Cold War situation which could be attributed to many politicians before Reagan ( note it came out before Iran-Contra Affrair) such as JFk and Richard Nixon. It could be an allegory for the monkey business going on on both sides of the political aisle today.

" Land of Confusion".
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