Most people think they have very clear and defined interpretations of their favourite songs, particularly songs which they identify with. While it's true that we can construct our own personal meanings and interpretations to our more beloved tunes, the simple fact is that the vast majority of us haven't got the foggiest as to what some of music's most endeared songs actually mean.
Below are five such songs. Prepare to have your mind blown.
1. Madonna - 'Like A Virgin'
Anyone who's familiar with Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs will know that 'Like A Virgin' is one of Madonna's most often deconstructed songs. The music video, which shows Madonna sailing through the canals of Venice on a gondola, played a large part in Madonna's rise to superstardom and painted her as a feminist icon, that of a woman completely in charge of her own sexuality.
The Truth? 'Like A Virgin' is actually about a man. Billy Steinberg, the song's lyricist, penned the song as an autobiographical tale of a man recovering from a break-up and how he wanted to be "shiny and new" by the time his next relationship rolled around. Steinberg went on the record as saying that the song was never intended to be performed or recorded by a woman.
2. Bob Dylan - 'Mr Tambourine Man'
Ask any Dylan-ologist (or Michelle Pfeiffer in 'Dangerous Minds) and they'll likely tell you that 'Mr Tambourine Man' was Bob Dylan's drug opus. The titular character is often understood to be a reference to Dylan's drug dealer, with the surrealistic lyrics seemingly supporting this hypothesis as he takes Dylan through the "smoke rings of my mind, past the foggy ruins of time."
The Truth? Despite assumptions to the otherwise, Dylan wasn't introduced to LSD until after the recording of the song and maintains that the song wasn't about mind-altering substances but instead about his search for inspiration. As for the Tambourine Man? His name was Bruce Langhorne, a session musician who regularly worked with Dylan on his early recordings.
3. Bruce Springsteen - 'Born In The USA'
If you have ever been to an American sporting occasion, be it baseball, football or otherwise, the odds that The Boss' 'Born In The USA' was blasted out over the PA system at some point. It's of little surprise the song has been seized upon as an example of American fist-in-the-air patriotism due to its memorable sing-a-long chorus. 'Murica!
The Truth? The lyrics to 'Born In The USA' are extremely critical of America and was written as an artistic retaliation to the Vietnam war, tracing the protagonist's experience in the armed forces and subsequent hardships that veterans faced upon return to the country the fought for. That chorus was just too damn catchy, though.
4. Beastie Boys - '(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)'
One of the Beastie Boys' biggest hits, '(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party)' is seen as a feel-good party anthem - the perfect soundtrack to a beer-fueled session with your mates. It's of little surprise then that they song was almost immediately latched on to by the anti-authoritarian frat house community, a demographic whose main goals are simply to worry about where their next beer is coming from.
The Truth? The Beastie Boys didn't intend this song to be latched on to by this element. In fact, the song was written as a satire on the very beer-soaked people who embraced it. As Mike D explained in The Beastie Boys: The Complete Guide: "The only thing that upsets me is that we might have reinforced certain values of some people in our audience when our own values were totally different . There were tonnes of guys singing along to 'Fight For Your Right' who were oblivious to the fact it was a total goof on them."
5. The Beatles - 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds'
This one's easy, right? The Beatles were never afraid to reference their fondness for certain mind-altering substances in their songs and ask anyone what they think this song is about, they'll probably say three letters back to you - 'L S and D'. After all, it's right there in the title.
The Truth? 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' hasn't got any literal connection to drugs - though we can't speak of what was in John Lennon's system when he constructed it. The song was inspired by Lennon's son Julian, who came home from nursery school one afternoon with a picture he had painted of a character (Lucy), floating at the top of the page (In The Sky) surrounded by bright flashing lights (Diamonds). Sorry to disappoint, but The Beatles have plenty of other songs about drugs to keep you happy if this news comes as an undue shock to you.