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The Most Misunderstood Songs in Rock ‘N’ Roll History

Most erudite and music-savvy Flavorpill readers are no doubt familiar with the concept of a mondegreen — it’s a song lyric that’s frequently misunderstood, often with hilarious results (like the all time classic, “Excuse me while I kiss this guy,” from Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze”). But what about entire songs that are misunderstood? These can be even more amusing and/or squirm-inducing, so we thought we’d round up a few classics of the genre for a bit of Friday afternoon comic relief. If you’ve ever had the mildly embarrassing feeling of having to explain a joke to someone who just doesn’t quite get it, then imagine how the songwriters after the jump feel.


REM — “The One I Love”

Michael Stipe has spoken various times over the years of his bemusement at the sight of fans waving lighters and/or necking frantically to this song. And with good reason — despite the fact that pretty much everyone beyond clued-in REM fans has somehow interpreted this as a love song, it’s actually a pretty vicious kiss-off to a dumped paramour. “This one goes out to the one I’ve left behind/ A simple prop to occupy my time”: it’s pretty clear if you actually listen to the lyrics, people…

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