Do song lyrics ever baffle you?
More than once I've written a note to myself about some obscure song lyric that I wish I understood. This happens fairly often, so I have lots of notes to myself, usually "what does it mean when they sing ....?"
For instance, I had to look up what the story was behind the lyric to Crosby, Stills & Nash 1982 hit, Southern Cross. I didn't understand that the line "...she was making for the trades on the outside, on the downhill run to Papeete.." meant that the ship was heading south-south-west, across mostly easterly winds, to catch the trade winds, from where they will sail "downhill" - downwind, in other words - on the westerly trade winds into French Polynesia.
Got it. But I had to look that up. Although I grew up in Southern California near the harbor, I've never sailed trans-Pacific on a sailboat, so even though I'm from there, I didn't get the reference.
But this brings up a few other song lyrics I had to look up. Mostly these aren't hard, but just really interesting in uncovering the backstories. Often, I find, there's more stashed in these lyrics than you might think. Let's do a couple of small Challenges before we sail into the holidays.
1. The phrase "wheel inside the wheel" is used fairly often in popular culture and in a number of songs. Can you figure out where the phrase originated from? (Where was it first used? And what is the "wheel inside the wheel"?)
2. In one such song about "Wheel Inside the Wheel", Jimmy Buffett has a line describing "Spyboy meets Spyboy, and Big Chief meets Big Chief uptown.." Huh? What's a spyboy? And why would Big Chief meet Big Chief uptown? What's this all about?
3. In the 1981 South African hit, Impi, some of the lyrics say: "All along the river Chelmsford's army lay asleep; Come to crush the children of Mageba; Come to exact the realm's price for peace..." Who's Chelmsford? Who's Mageba? And what's the backstory here?
Personally, I find these backstories really fascinating. If you don't spend a couple of minutes looking up these things, it feels like you're missing part of the story. (I don't know about you, but I don't know much about spyboys, Big Chiefs, or Chelmsford's army. Someone does, but I'm trying to catch up.)
And let us know how you found out!