discovers the true meaning of her favourite songs.
recently discovered I’m tone deaf. Not in the traditional sense, although I can’t really hold a note. But more that I am terrible at picking up the true mood and meaning behind a song.
I’ve been to three weddings where a glowing bride walked down the aisle to The Police’s ‘Every Breath You Take’.
It sounds perfect for a wedding: Every breath you take… I’ll be watching you. But apparently the song is less lovey-dovey and more stalky-stalky! Sting wrote it after separating from his first wife, and in an interview in 1983 said: “I think it’s a nasty little song, really rather evil. It’s about jealousy and surveillance and ownership.” Not really the soundtrack for a happy marriage.
Look at the Aussie classic, Men At Work’s ‘Down Under’, a tune I am prone to belting out on a long drive. When I Googled the meaning, I discovered it’s about so much more than beer and Vegemite. It’s also about the loss of spirit in our country, about how the true heritage of our great land can get lost in the name of progress and development.
What about ‘Waterfalls’ by TLC, you know the one: Don’t go chasing waterfalls, please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to. I knew it wasn’t literally about waterfalls, but I never appreciated it was about HIV/AIDS awareness: Three letters took him to his final resting place. It made sense, when I stopped singing out of tune and listened. Then there is ‘Escape (The Pina Colada Song)’. I was recently informed that my favourite ’80s summer tune isn’t just a song about drinking pina coladas by the beach, but a depressing tale of a tired marriage. It makes sense when you listen to the words. I was tired of my lady, we’d been together too long, Like a worn-out recording, of a favourite song. Then while she is sleeping he checks the classifieds section of the paper (which for anyone under 30 was like Tinder) and sees an ad for a woman seeking a man. If you like pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain, If you´re not into yoga, if you have half a brain, If you like making love at midnight, in the dunes of the cape, I’m the love that you’ve looked for, write to me and escape. Well, didn’t that spark his interest? “That’s me!” he thinks.
So he writes an ad back to this pina colada-sipping beauty and declares:
Yes, I like pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain,
I’m not much into health food, I am into champagne.
Then he asks her to meet him the next day at a pub. But this is when the song takes an interesting turn. Guess who walks in the door? What do ya know… It was my own lovely lady, and she said, “Oh, it’s you”,
And we laughed for a moment, and I said, “I never knew,
That you liked pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain,
You´re the love that I’ve looked for, come with me and escape.”
I am not sure how to feel about this song now. Is it kinda romantic or just immoral? I think I preferred it when I thought I was singing about coconut-flavoured rum…
Needless to say I’m now rediscovering all my favourite songs, armed with a new appreciation of the lyrics. Maybe there is more to that Vengabus song than I first thought… or not. Carrie co-hosts The Project, 6.30pm weeknights, on Network Ten.
“Apparently the song is less lovey-dovey and more stalky-stalky”