Begin the fight for meaning
If you’re like most of my readers, you really like pop music and you found my blog because you searched something like “twenty one pilots heathens song meaning” or “Starboy The Weeknd lyrics meaning.” The key word in either case is “meaning.”
Critics of popular music complain that pop keeps getting more and more meaningless. But since 2007, searches for “song meaning” have increased by 200%; people are hungrier than ever for their music to mean something.
But things keep you from being able to find that meaning:
- Lack of information on artists
- Seeming pointlessness of a song
- Allusions to things you’ve never heard of
- Vague words
- Poor pronunciation
These are just a few of the problems you may have found as you’ve tried to understand lyrics yourself. But the hardest obstacle of all is that you just haven’t talked to the artist or gotten the chance to ask him or her what they meant.
I’ve had a hard time learning how to appreciate and understand music
For a long time, I didn’t even listen to music. At 12 years old, I thought that most pop songs were evil and that listening to a song with dirty lyrics was a cardinal sin.
Then I got hooked on a few old Newsboys and DC Talk CD’s and slowly made my way to 80’s rock. From there, I experimented with European dance pop, singer/songwriter, and reggae, and ended up listening to the local top 40 station. I diversified my music interests in all directions, keeping focus on the lyrics and their meanings as I listened while allowing myself to enjoy the fun rhythms and groovy beats.
Before long, I started noticing that the artists were saying things that we had to take seriously and had to make sense of. They were telling us to do things and had reasons for doing so that they didn’t always mention. Some of them told us to party, others to have sex, others to love our families, and still others to make peace with those we fought with.
I decided it was important to me to understand the music because so many other people were listening to the same songs and having the same philosophies of life delivered to them from pop music’s microphone.
As I listened, I realized that there’s a difference between passive and active listening. Passive listening occurs when we just let lyrics into our minds without thinking about them. Active listening occurs when we study lyrics and evaluate their philosophies and ideas.
Around this time, I was getting my master’s degree in literature. After I graduated, I started CliffordStumme.com as a place to search for beauty in unlikely places and soon found that beauty in the discovery of philosophies and ideas in pop music.
The goal for this blog
Now, I try to use my education to explain to others what songs mean and how they can understand those songs too. I apply line-by-line literary analysis to pop songs that usually get ignored by the academic elite but that are listened to by millions of others.
I want to spread meaning and meaning awareness for music listeners and get people excited about finding ideas and interacting with them wherever they find them.
Subscribe to Song Meaning Pro and join my song explanation team
Song Meaning Pro is my free 7 day educational email course designed to help you be a better song analyzer. When you sign up for that, we can work together to analyze song lyrics and decipher the deeper meanings. You can check it out and when you sign up, you’ll also become part of my song explanation team and get a weekly email asking for help explaining song lyrics and telling you what I’ve explained recently.
If you want more song meaning help, you can also check out my explained songs, my podcast, or my YouTube channel where I explain songs. In fact, I’d highly recommend the YouTube channel. We have a great song meaning community growing there, and there are so many good discussions in the comments!
~Clifford Stumme (AKA The Pop Song Professor)