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The Hidden Meaning Behind the Lyrics of Well-known Songs Part 4

Updated on August 14, 2020


Introduction to Part 4

Usually it is simple to interpret the lyrics of some great songs. Most have no profound meaning and just happen to have an appealing chorus, memorable riff, or easy to learn rhyming verses. However, many familiar songs with distinctive music have hidden meanings, which you may not be aware of, or over the years have misinterpreted. How many songs have you listened to and thought, “What is that song actually about?” Known the meaning of classic or popular song can give it a new sense of understanding and therefore a deeper appreciation. With the following interpretations, the aim is to give the reader a better insight into the true intentions of the artist(s) who wrote and recorded the song.


Everly Brothers All I Have To Do is Dream

Pink Floyd Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)

Plant Robert 29 Palms

Procul Harem A Whiter Shade of Pale

(The) Ronettes Be My Baby

Saxon 747 (Strangers in the Night)

Springsteen Bruce Born in the USA

Steppenwolf Born to be Wild

T-Rex 20th Century Boy

Everly Brothers All I Have To Do is Dream

All I Have To Do is Dream

Composed by | Boudleaux Bryant and Felice Bryant

Performed by | Everly Brothers

The title originated from co-writer Felice Bryant who stated that when she was eight-years old she had a dream that she and ‘her man’ were dancing to what she said was ‘our song’. Years later when she first saw Boudleaux Bryant, she remembered the face from her dream and knew that it was him.

Pink Floyd Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)

Composed by | Roger Waters

Performed by | Pink Floyd

Roger Waters wrote this song about his personal views on formal education. He hated his teachers at the CambridgeshireSchool for Boys considering that they were more interested in keeping the children quiet than providing them with an education.

‘The Wall’ refers to an emotional barrier Waters built around himself when he felt he was not in touch with reality. The bricks in the wall were incidents in his life, which caused him to build ‘The wall’ around himself for protection from his teacher who was ‘another brick in the wall’.

Waters himself said that the song is meant to be a calling to revolt against erratic governments and people who have unjustified power over you.

29 Palms

Composed by | Doug Boyle, Chris Blackwell, Charlie Jones, and Robert Plant

Performed by | Robert Plant

Plant’s lyrics tell of a man who is infatuated with a woman living in the desert city of 29 Palms. Supposedly, the woman is Canadian singer Alannah Myles, who he was romantically linked to, but Plant has never admitted this or denied it. He did admit though to writing the song when he was on tour in California.

A Whiter Shade of Pale

Composed by | Gary Brooker, Matthew Fisher, and Keith Reid

Performed by | Procol Harum

Keith Reid said that he got the title and start of the song while at a party when he overheard someone say ‘you’ve turned a whiter shade of pale’. He added that with the lyrics he was trying to conjure up a mood as well as tell a straightforward ‘girl leaves boy’ story.

Be My Baby

Composed by | Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, and Phil Spector

Performed by | The Ronettes

The lyrics tell the story of young love and attraction and are about a girl who is trying to persuade someone she likes to give her a chance by letting him know that she has been attracted to him since they first met.

Saxon 747 (Strangers in the Night)

Composed by | Biff Byford, Steve Dawson, Pete Gill, and Graham Oliver

Performed by | Saxon

The lyrics of the song, which was written in 1979, are loosely based on the Great Northeast Blackout that occurred on 09th November 1965. There were many electricity supply problems, which affected towns and cities but also airports and their runway lighting. This resulted in a number of flights being diverted elsewhere. The flight in question ‘Scandinavian 101’ is fictional as the airline only operated flight SAS 911 from Copenhagen to JFK airport. The reference to a ‘747’ is also fictional as at the time of the blackout, SAS operated Douglas DC-8’s on the route and the Boeing 747 did not enter service until 1969.

Biff Byford said in an interview that it was a melancholy song and he thought it would be cool to write about strangers meeting during the blackout and the image of a plane coming in to land and the runway lights suddenly going out. He added that as a big Frank Sinatra fan he got the idea of the line ‘strangers in the night’ from one of his songs.

Born In The USA

Composed by | Bruce Springsteen

Performed by | Bruce Springsteen

Springsteen wrote this song about what he considered was the shameful treatment of Vietnam veterans who returned from a war the USA did not win, and were shunned rather than receiving a hero’s welcome. The veterans also endured hardship, were ignored by the government, and received little help or support from the community.

Born to be Wild

Composed by | Mars Bonfire (Dennis Edmonton)

Performed by | Steppenwolf

The line in the song ‘heavy metal thunder’ became the first well-known song to use the phrase ‘heavy metal’, which went on to become the universal term for ‘hard rock’. The author William Burroughs is credited with introducing the phrase. In his 1961 book ‘The Soft Machine’, he described one of his characters as ‘the heavy metal kid’.

Mars Bonfire stated that the idea for the song came one day as he was walking down Hollywood Boulevard and he saw a poster in a window with a motorbike leaping out of the earth like a volcano with fire around it with the phrase ‘born to ride’.

Further inspiration came from the fact that he had just earned enough money to buy an American Motors Corporation Matador, which gave him a sense of freedom and independence.

Bonfire states that there is no mention in the song of motorbikes only the line ‘get your motors running’, which he said referred to the custom of teenagers heading out on the highway to cause mayhem.

20th Century Boy

Composed by | Marc Bolan

Performed by | T-Rex

According to Mark Bolan the lyrics are based on quotes from well-known celebrities, notably Muhammad Ali.

Resources and Comment

Apart from an individual artist or group, radio stations, newspapers, and magazines own websites, there are also many specialised websites that offer explanations as to the background and meaning of songs and their lyrics.

If you have a favourite song that you would like to know the meaning of the lyrics please let me know.

© 2020 Brian OldWolf


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