Classic rock often has deeper lyrical meaning

Several classic rock groups paved the way for poetic lyrics that say more than they may seem to on the surface

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Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Queen’s A Day in the Races, U2’s The Joshua Tree, and Cheap Trick’s In Color are some of my favorite albums.

Haley Justin, Writer

Classic rock bands often embed deeper meanings into their songs. Some rock bands are well known for the deeper meaning behind their music including Queen, Pink Floyd, U2, Cheap Trick, and others.

With meaningful lyrics, classic rock groups can release music that is so well done it becomes an art. Though this can be found in newer rock music as well, classic groups in particular are some of my favorites and are considered classics for a reason.

The Wall, released on November 20th, 1979, is one of Pink Floyd’s best known albums. The Wall is notable because of the story it tells. The album follows the life of a man, Pink, experiencing trials and tribulations. The album follows his life and how each thing he encounters “adds another brick in the wall”. Throughout the album, the metaphorical wall Pink builds forms a protection from the outside world. Each song relays how the trials he faces affects him. Though this is true with most of Pink Floyd, this album is one you have to listen to in order. It’s just as much a story as it is an album, so you have to listen to the whole thing to get the full experience. 

While the majority of Queen’s songs have deeper lyrical meanings, their best known song, “Bohemian Rhapsody”, is a personal favorite of mine in terms of complexity. Off the album A Day at the Races, the singer (Freddie Mercury) talks of being a “poor boy who needs no sympathy and can’t escape from reality”. The first stanza of the song relays how he doesn’t know if life is real or fake, and therefore feels lost looking for meaning. The song then goes into a summary of his life — how he killed a man and threw his life away. The singer keeps apologizing to his mother for what he’s done throughout the track. There are many ways to interpret this, but from my perspective as a listener, the narrator is apologizing for what he’s done after losing touch with reality.

U2 is known for songs that are lighthearted on the surface and a lot deeper when you sit and think about them. My favorite songs of theirs are “With or Without You” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, both from the album The Joshua Tree“With or Without Youtalks about Bono (the singer) in a relationship he can’t escape. Bono said that he wanted to write a love song that dealt with real issues. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” discusses traveling to find a specific place, and being unable to find it. Overall, a lot of U2’s songs talk about the band member’s personal histories, giving listeners a peek into their life.

Some of my favorite songs from Cheap Trick include “Dream police” (Dream Police) and “I Want You to Want Me” (In Color). “Dream Police” is about a paranoid man who is convinced that his dreams are being watched and it makes him crazy. No matter what he does, the “Dream Police” are always in his head waiting to arrest him. “I Want You to Want Me” is about the singer wanting someone to love him the same amount as he loves them. Throughout the song the feelings of need, desperation, and crave for affection grows more intense. He doesn’t just want the person to love him back — he wants them to be just as obsessed with him as he is with him.

Classic rock, though sometimes overlooked as something less meaningful to listen to, can carry a lot of lyrical depth. Whether that’s relaying an experience the singer’s gone through or telling the life story of a mythical man, classic rock is just as lyrically heavy as other genres of music.