Have you ever stopped and looked deeper into songs to study their lyrics? Have you ever asked yourself, “What is this song really talking about? What is the songwriter going through or trying to tell me through this song?” So many songs have been written and people enjoy them and sing along without really knowing what they are talking about. Just like the YMCA by Village People and Hotel California by the Eagles.
The YMCA was a huge hit when it first came out in 1978 and was on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in November and went up to the number two spot by January. Most people don’t look into this song because they are so distracted by the fun jingle, easy-to-learn words, upbeat rhythm, and catchy melody. However, if one such person did look into it they would be quite surprised by all the different ways to interpret it. Some people say that it hinted at the idea of the Y.M.C.A.’s being places for homosexual people to meet and get to know each other. Others agree that it’s just a fun song that is still constantly played at baseball games as a crowd favorite. I, however, looked a little bit more closely at the actual story going on behind the tunes. It’s about a young, poor boy who is new in town and is hanging out on the streets because he doesn’t know anyone and is approached by an older man who tries to give guidance. He tells the young boy about the YMCA, or the Young Mens Christian Association, where he can go when he is short on cash, needs somewhere to stay the night, and needs something to eat and cannot supply himself. The song ends with the old man telling the boy to not be ashamed that he used to be in the same place where the boy is and is now happy and successful.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CS9OO0S5w2k Here is a link to the music video if you want to check it out but watch out! The tune will be stuck in your head for a while.
Another song that has a deeper meaning is Hotel California by the Eagles which can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QF-Rgon9H2E This song on the surface is about a Man walking down the road at night when he arrives at a small motel and a woman greets him at the door. As she leads him through the hallway, he thinks he hears voices through the walls and he believes he is in either heaven or hell. He goes on to describe the girl as beautiful with boys falling at her feet but that she denies each one. He describes how they dance in the courtyard and how they are either trying to remember or forget something. Later he describes a scene where all the hotel guests are gathered for a feast in a reflective room and the girl says, “We are all prisoners here of our own device,” and how even with their combined force the guests are unable to kill a beast in the room. The song ends with a quote from the doorman, “You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave.” I think that this song really does hold a powerful message even though some people believe it is a song just born of a reaction to an illegal substance. While the idea of the boys actually being high at the time they wrote is unknown, it is possible because of the narrator not knowing where he was or if he was alive a the time and also that he was hearing voices. Either way, I find the song to be very symbolic of the struggles people have with themselves, of being unable to defeat their fears no matter how hard they try to and in the end being unable to run and escape them when they have no other choice. This really shows through in the last two lines when the doorman tells the man that maybe you can run and hide from your fears for a little while, but you can never really be free of them.
Overall, these two songs are extremely different when it comes to the surface level. One is happy and bouncy and fun while the other is much more solemn and slow. It is really interesting how people are able to mask (or not mask) their fears and worries in so many different ways.
Also sorry if the website links aren’t working as they should- I’m not sure what is going on there but if you would like to see the videos just copy and paste the website url.