Monday, September 21, 2015

"I Can't Feel My Face"

Whenever I'm in the car and turn on the radio, it seems pop stations are playing the same five songs over and over again. One of the tunes that's stuck on REPLAY is The Weeknd's "I Can't Feel My Face." It's a weird thing to say: Hey, I can't feel my face when am with you. And I love it.

So is this guy just so nervous about some girl who might hurt him, he goes numb? Is it cold outside? Why can't he feel his face? I was in the car with my teenager, and he decided to look it up. He started laughing and told me that this song is about...



This got me thinking about a bunch of songs that have similar hidden or ambiguous meanings. Here's a few of my favorites:

Harder to Breathe, by Maroon 5. This song just kicks ass. The lyrics just drip with anger and betrayal. To me, it was obvious that this song was about a girl totally breaking some guy's heart, and he's pissed. But later, I found out Adam Levine indeed did write this song out of pure hatred, but his angst wasn't directed at a woman. It was directed at the music industry. The record label kept pushing the band to add one more track at the last minute, and so the pressure got to him. And their breakaway hit was the result of that anger.

Closing Time, by Semisonic. This song became a huge hit when my wife was pregnant with baby number one. And for some reason, it resonated with me on a subconscious level. To me, the song's meaning was fairly simple. These guys are at the bar, and it's time to shut it down and either go home or go elsewhere. I was watching a Semisonic live show on YouTube, and the band's leader, Dan Wilson, confessed that "Closing Time" is a song from a baby's perspective of having to leave the comfort of Mommy's womb and be born. Ha!

Just a draw-ring!
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, by John Lennon-The Beatles. We all thought this song was about
LSD. I mean, they took it and loved it during 1967. So duh. The song's initials even spell out L-S-D. But John Lennon swears it's not. He said that the song was inspired by a drawing his son Julian had made in school of his friend...Lucy.

Take Me Home, by Phil Collins. I am a big Phil Collins fan. And I did a report on his song "Take Me Home" for music class in 7th grade. The lyrics seemed to be about a guy who's homesick and just wants to home. Right? But years later, I was at his concert, and he said that the song was inspired by the movie "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." It's about a guy in a mental institution who wants out!

Love Shack, by the B-52s. Okay, this song's meaning is pretty obvious. But there's one line in the song that became practically iconic. Which line? You KNOW which line. Tin roof, rusted. What the hell does that mean? I was a sophomore in high school when this song became a hit, and I was told that this infamous line was some sort of hidden message about being pregnant. That made no sense, but hey, most music from 1989-1995 made no sense anyway. I saw in an interview where one of the band members admitted that one of the singers just blurted it out during an outtake, and they loved it. So they kept it.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Some of those are a surprise. It's always interesting to hear the story behind the song. What inspired Dream Theater's Count of Tuscany is just about as odd as the story line of the song itself.

Pat Hatt said...

Never knew that about Closing Time. I know a lot have hidden meanings though, and some not so hidden haha

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

This was very entertaining. I never would have guessed that about Closing Time and I still think Lucy is about LSD despite the picture.

Susan Says

Jay Noel said...

Alex: That song is WEIRD. And the fact that it's based on messed up adventure at a real castl in Italy makes it even weirder.

Pat: Yeah, there's more songs with obvious meanings. Lol

Susan: I read in an interview that John swears it's not about LSD, but he did say that maybe subconsciously, it's about a woman entering his life and "completing him."

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Now I've got that Closing Time song looping through my head....

Sheena-kay Graham said...

I also love that song by The Weeknd. A song that has been playing over and over in my head since the ahem, weekend, has been Everyday by Asap Rock, Rod Stewart, Miguel and Mark Ronson (I think). It has so many kinds of symbolic meanings. The first time I was kind of mixed up and wondered if it was a video about a transsexual dying because he/she couldn't live their true life. Don't ask, got put straight that it was about Asap himself dying from a life of drug abuse.

Harder to Breathe will always be Maroon's 5 best song. Even if they were not inspired by a woman i knew it had to come from a place where you were super pissed off. I genuinely thought the Lucy song was dedicated to girl named Lucy (or some other girl) so yay me. Semisonic is just weird man. Sorry, well not really. Have an excellent day Jay.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Remember that song with the lyrics "I get knocked down but I get back up again?" I know so many people who thought it was a great rally song, but it's about getting pissed and passing out drunk.

DEZMOND said...

That Adam Levine is such a violent one... even their videos have become such glorification of violence that I can't stand it :(

Robin said...

That story behind the song Harder to Breathe reminded me of the trouble INXS had after the wrote the songs for KICK. They presented it to the label and they shot it down. Looks what happens when you stick to your guns. KICK produced an amazing 7 hits.

All of these have interesting meanings. I had no idea that was what Closing Time was about. Well, when you're due, you're due.

Anne Marie J. Schlueter said...

Such a fun, unique post! I had no idea that's what I Can't Feel My Face is about...amazing what people get us to proclaim as long as it is put to some good chords!

And, hey, love Phil Collins too!! *fist bump*

Jay Noel said...

Madeline: You need to listen to the song in its entirety. That's the only way to get rid of that earworm

Sheena: The Weeknd's song has such a catchy beat...can't help but like it

Diane: I do remember that song back in '96. It flooded the airwaves and I was sick of it pretty quick

Dez: It must be the tattoos

Robin: And you can't stay here!

Anne Marie: I was pretty shocked, but when I listened to the song again, it all made sense

Pat Dilloway said...

I thought I read once Closing Time was written so they could use it as the last song for shows.

Arlee Bird said...

I heard that "Can't Feel My Face" song when I was in NJ this past summer. I thought it was weird, but didn't give it much thought, then my son-in-law just casually mentioned it was about cocaine. Yeah, that made sense. Still, it's a catchy tune.

I don't care what John Lennon said about "Lucy in the Sky". It's a druggie dream trip of a song and he can't convince me otherwise.

Arlee Bird
A to Z Challenge Co-host
Tossing It Out

Chrys Fey said...

That's what I hate about pop songs these days. They are all about sex and drugs. A long time ago I was told Closing Time was about a man a bar...or something like that. LOL!

Jay Noel said...

Pat: I think they do close out every show with that song, which makes sense for a variety of reasons. But yeah, the metaphor is a baby being forced out of the womb like a drunkard being bounced from a bar. Lol

Arlee: Very catchy. And just about everything he wrote in the mid-late 60s seemed to be pretty trippy.

Chrys: I took it pretty literally, but there was something that struck a chord (no pun intended) with me. Looking back, it makes perfect sense now.

Christine Rains said...

I had no idea about any of those hidden meanings except the Love Shack one. Makes me wonder about a lot more songs out there!

cleemckenzie said...

All of those hidden meanings go right over my head. And maybe that's a good thing. By the time I "get" it, the meaning has changed anyway.

Patricia Lynne said...

It's so interesting to learn hidden meanings behind songs. I knew about the Beatles songs, but none of the others.

Lexa Cain said...

Thanks for all the cool info about what the songwriters really meant by their lyrics. I've always been sure Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was about LSD -- I figured the whole Yellow Submarine album was pretty much about that too. But who knows?

T. Powell Coltrin said...

I knew some of the stories behind these song, but so true about face value. I would never have guessed the true meaning behind some of the songs. Of course, if I haven't looked up the lyrics and I can't figure them out, I make up my own. Doesn't everybody? No?

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Worst ever attempt to decipher what a song writer was thinking was on a morning news show. Three or four news personalities were interviewing Meatloaf and asking him what was the "but, I won't do that" in the song I Would Do Anything for Love. They were coming up with all sorts of crazy ideas. I felt bad for Meatloaf. He had to be thinking that not a single one ever listened to the song- it's right in the words. He wouldn't run around and break her heart.

I'm a lyric junkie. They're the best in modern poetry.

Loni Townsend said...

I've always thought the song I Can't Feel My Face was weird and kind of ridiculous. Knowing it's about drugs makes sense, though I'm not sure it makes it better. :)

I love the tidbit about the B-52s! I didn't know about the other songs. Hidden meanings are cool.

Lydia Kang said...

The only thing I knew about was the Lucy song--the others are a surprise. Cool!

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G. B. Miller said...

A lot of people thought the song "Hey Man Nice Shot" by Filter was about Kurt Cobain, but the singer Richard Patrick stated in an article that it was about the public (live t.v.) suicide of a Pennsylvania politician.

Father Nature's Corner

Melissa said...

Very interesting post. I bet there are stories behind a lot of songs that we have no clue about.

Mark Noce said...

The B-52s are awesome:) I hope Love Shack is playing when we all get into heaven someday;)

DMS said...

The only hidden meaning I knew was The Beatles song! Who knew there were hidden meanings in the other songs. I guess the songwriters are very clever. Closing Time I always thought had to do with bars closing! Thanks for the music lesson. :)

David P. King said...

Closing time, heard that so much because it became the theme song for my college library. Guess they thought the song was cooler than announcing "we're closing the library, time to get out" over the loudspeaker. :)

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