Ever listen to a song and wonder what the artist’s original intent was lyrically? Some songs are pretty black-and-white with their lyrics, just saying exactly what they mean. Most pop music is like this because the more you have to think about the meaning, the less fans you’re going to have. But some songs, or even whole albums are cleverly worded and not outwright with their meanings, using lots of idioms and hidden messages.
Cradle Of Filth does this a lot I think. Their album Thornography is one of my favorites, but is full of such phrasings that the actual message is somewhat unclear. There’s a website called http://www.songmeanings.com/ that was created with the intent of clearing this up, but it’s all speculation; users get on and post what they think a song means, their personal interpretation, but as far as I’ve seen no band gets on and makes an official statement about the actual meaning. I bought Cradle Of Filth’s book The Gospel Of Filth hoping that some of this would be covered. I would love to know the actual meaning and intent behind I Am The Thorn and a few other songs of theirs. This was not covered in the book though. The book explains what kind of personal things influenced the band and what was going on musically around the world at the time of each album. It has a ton of information and really is a great buy if you like Cradle Of Filth.
No, to get this information, the band would have to put it on their website or explain in an interview or something. Not that this doesn’t happen, I’m sure it does. I just wish more bands would do that. It would be great to learn about the influences and meanings of Imaginaerum by Nightwish (anything by Nightwish actually). I know that if I’m writing real music and am in a band, I plan to have a blog about just this, just because it’s what I want from my favorite bands.
That’s the other thing I wish more bands would talk about, their influences for each individual album and/or song. There’s no question that my favorite music right now is symphonic metal; Metal bands that use full symphony orchestras and choirs in the background. This enhances the music and adds so much to it. It also says to me that the songwriters have a lot of talent- you have to really know music to be able to do that. You might not like the band but you cannot deny the talent put into songs like The Poet And The Pendulum (Nightwish – Dark Passion Play). This album and the following one by Nightwish (Imaginaerum) I believe tell stories as whole albums. I love it when artists do this, and am always interested to learn where the inspiration and stylistic influences come from. Imaginaerum sounds to me like it could be a great soundtrack for a Steampunk movie- though Nightwish has actually released their own movie that goes along with the album.
I guess all I’m saying here is that I would like to see more bands and artists talking about these things; it would help them gain fans, fans could connect with and relate to the band in this way, and it would provide a better understanding of their music.
When I have my own band, it will draw from influences like Nightwish, Epica, Lacuna Coil, Within Temptation, as well as my own understanding of similar music and will also be influenced by Jazz- I think having a jazz/metal band (if done/written correctly) could be pretty awesome. Nightwish touches on this with their song Slow, Love, Slow, though that was not exactly my inspiration for this idea. That mainly came from listening to their albums as a whole and thinking how great it could be to make metal that draws heavily from Classical music (I’m also a big Mozart fan), and when I think of classical music I also think of jazz (I am fully aware of the differences of styles, just something that comes to mind). I think that’s because I feel those styles really take the most talent of any genres to do well.
Well, there’s a lot different ways to write a song, regardless of your given genre. One of those ways, I call ‘story telling’, for rather obvious reasons. Dylans ‘Tangled Up In Blue’, Maidens ‘..Ancient Mariner’, 2112 all come to mind. These are each a clear story, in varying degrees of detail. Clearly, it’s of great advantage to be ‘black and white’ with your lyrics. Even then, the whole story itself may well be allegorical and represent something wholly different than its narrative presents.
I don’t write those kind of songs. My songs tend more towards a one sided argument, the conveying an emotion or the snap shot of a moment and rarely follow a continuous story arc. In a case like that, it’s actually to my advantage for a given set of lyrics to appear ambiguous or non-specific. If I write a song about how my wife, Jane, filed for divorce and took the house, kids, car, credit cards, two dogs and left the cat, you might not really relate to (or care about) my troubles. If you’ve never been (or are happily) married, not a dog person, never known, let alone been a relationship with a Jane, or prefer apartment living you don’t have a lot to connect with on a song like that. IF, on the other hand, I write that ‘my woman done left me, took my world and crashed my life’- THAT may connect better with you and you can (due lack of detail in the lyric) personalize that song now because it’s easy for you to insert your own specifics into the song. This is key to a broad appeal for a given song. If you can feel like that song was written for YOU, or you feel collaborative because your circumstances ‘fit’ into the song, THAT is a song that will feel ‘important’ to you.
Also, when you cloud your metaphors, it’s easier for you (the writer) the keep some ‘safe’ space between your feelings and the listener. Let’s say I don’t want Jane to know I’m all spun out on her, but I still feel like I need to ‘say’ something about it.
So, while I can see your point with wanting the bands to weigh in and spell out their meanings, I’d suggest that sometimes it’s the meaning that YOU (the listener) that is as or more important than that of the writer.