10 Rock Music Songs That Aren't About What You Think

You've heard them over and over again, but you probably still don't know these songs' true meanings.

R.E.M. Losing My Religion Michael Stipe
Warner Bros.

In his 1967 essay The Death of the Author, French literary critic Roland Barthes argued that the intention of a piece of art is secondary to the meaning attributed to it by its audience.

Essentially, he said that the true meaning of a something whatever is assigned to it by the public. It's an interesting theory, but one that these ten bands might disagree with.

The following ten songs are all very popular, but that hasn't stopped people from getting them completely wrong.

Because of the lyrics, the sound, or the overall feel of these songs, fans have often given them meanings that the artists never intended. It's taken the performers themselves speaking out for us to fully understand what these tracks were actually meant to be about.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter all that much that the public got the wrong end of the stick. Barthes was right to a certain extent; if art means something personal to you, then who cares what it means to others?

On the other hand, it's still quite funny that there are some people out there probably still don't know why these very famous songs were written in the first place.

10. Barracuda - Heart

Before you say anything, this song is not about a fish. Nobody actually thought it was... hopefully.

Barracuda became a runaway success for the band Heart following its release in 1977. Its chugging guitars and the wild singing of Ann Wilson made it an instant winner amongst hard rock fans or anyone who was sick and tired of The Osmonds.

That was probably a lot of people.

In the song, Wilson sings about someone playing games with her. The titular "Barracuda" seems to be some sort of lover, constantly toying with Wilson's life until she can stand no more.

This interpretation is half-right; it is about Wilson's anger, but not towards an individual.

Instead, the title character of the song is the band's former record company. Mushroom Records had released a fake story about Ann having a relationship with bandmate Nancy as a publicity stunt.

This is already bad, but it gets worse when you realise Ann and Nancy are sisters.


To get back at Mushroom, Ann channelled her anger into this song and then released it on a different label to make them loads of money. Safe to say, she won.

In this post: 
Rock Music
First Posted On: 

Jacob Simmons has a great many passions, including rock music, giving acclaimed films three-and-a-half stars, watching random clips from The Simpsons on YouTube at 3am, and writing about himself in the third person.