7 Songs That Sound Like They're About Women (But Aren't)

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It’s always a bit unnerving when you’re certain you know what a song is about – then find out later you were completely off base. At the risk of shaking your musical world to its core, here are 7 tunes that feature ladies’ names in their lyrics – but aren't really about women at all.

1. "CRACKLIN' ROSIE," BY NEIL DIAMOND 

She’s not a girl – she’s a bottle of wine. Neil Diamond told Rolling Stone that he got the idea from an Indian tribe in Canada with a much higher male population than female population. When the guys with girlfriends all went out on dates, the bachelor guys got together and drank homemade hooch. And actually, Cracklin’ Rosie is pretty decent wordplay when you realize the song’s boozy origins: “Crackling” is used in the wine world to describe a wine that’s lightly sparkling. You can actually buy a crackling rosé.

2. "ELENORE," BY THE TURTLES

If you’ve ever listened to that song and thought the line “you’re my pride and joy etcetera” felt like a pretty poor attempt at lyric-writing, well, you’re right. “Elenore” wasn’t about a girl, but was penned as an anti-love letter to the Turtles’ record label. The label was demanding a hit just like “Happy Together” which had come out the previous year, so the band slapped together a song they felt was insanely clichéd. To everyone’s surprise, it was a big hit.

 3. "SEXY SADIE," BY THE BEATLES 

Sexy Sadie was really Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The song was about how disillusioned with him they became after he hit on Mia Farrow and some of his other female students. Later, Farrow and the group felt bad for making the accusations, believing that they had probably misinterpreted his actions.

4. "ANA'S SONG (OPEN FIRE)," BY SILVERCHAIR

At first listen, the lyrics pleading with Ana to die seem cruel. But “Ana” is no woman: lead singer Daniel Johns suffered from anorexia nervosa and was writing about his experience with it.

5. "DELILAH," BY QUEEN

Delilah was one of Freddie Mercury’s beloved cats.

6. "SHANNON," BY HENRY GROSS 

Speaking of pets, ex-Sha Na Na singer Henry Gross wrote this song about the tragic death of Beach Boy Carl Wilson’s Irish Setter, Shannon.

7. "HELEN WHEELS," BY PAUL MCCARTNEY AND WINGS

Helen Wheels was McCartney’s punny name for the Land Rover he and Linda McCartney owned.

We’re sure there must be more out there – do you know of any? And have we destroyed visions of lead singers crooning over their unrequited loves for anyone? (If so, sorry!)

This post originally appeared in 2010.

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April 19, 2015 - 12:36pm
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