Wait- OMG! The song is really about...?

Elton John's High Flying Bird is a song about.... suicide??! Thought for years it was just another song about lost love. For whatever reason the full meaning of he lyrics didn't sink in until today on the drive in to work, "The white walls of your dressing room are stained scarlet red. You bled upon the cold stone like a young man... in the foreign field of death." 

That song will never be the same for me again. Its much, much better now. Damn that Taupin was good.

Please enlighten me, Miller, which EJ album is the song on? I don't remember it, like so many things these days.

I am going to have to seek that out, have the album but don't remember the song. I too am a big Taupin fan, what a pair they proved to be and can't wait to see the twist Hollywood puts on the up coming movie.
Evidently its not just me. Asked a guy at work, did you know High Flying Bird, the girl is a suicide? Nope. He like me thought she just left him.

I thought Steely Dan's Black Cow was just a fun song about a party girl until one day listening a little closer to the lyrics I realized its about a guy who fell in love with a girl, discovers she's an addict (and worse) and, finally having enough, tells her to just get lost!

I don't care anymore
Why you run around
Break away
Just when it
Seems so clear
That it's
Over now
Drink your big black cow
And get out of here

Again, really obvious in hindsight. But how many saw it this way the first time they heard it?
On Steely Dan, neither of those guys would break up with a girl over an addiction :-)
I am going to have to seek that out, have the album but don't remember the song. I too am a big Taupin fan, what a pair they proved to be and can't wait to see the twist Hollywood puts on the up coming movie.

Well I just watched the Rocketman trailer and it seems Taupin did not exist. Well they do show Elton holding some handwritten lyrics so maybe his name or something comes up. Worse, it seems Elton John could hardly sing. Or should I say he sang like Taron Egerton, who sings like crap. Hate to say it but go on iMDB watch Egerton butcher Tiny Dancer with Elton, let me know if you wouldn't rather just slice your wrist open. What were they thinking???!
I couldn't find any articles quoting EJ/Taupin.

My understanding was some kind of tragic loss, but never gave it deeper thought.

When I want  compare interpretation from other listeners, I check this site

Not much on on this particular song, but adds perspective.
I read that Taupin didn't necessarily write lyrics relating to actual experience, and would use whatever seemed to work.

The critics gave that album a lukewarm review. I like it, overall just not as strong as "Goodbye" 

The black label MCA I have sounds pretty good, but im not aware of the other presses-DJM,?
I’m talking more songs that turn out to have a lot different meaning than you think. Like, The Future’s So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades.

The whole song seems so upbeat and cheerful. Until you hear the interview where they say its really dark as hell. The kid in the song, he’s studying nuclear science. To build nukes. To nuke the world. That’s what’s so bright- the mushroom cloud. That’s why the crazy professor wears dark glasses. He’s gonna make fifty thou. Building bombs. Buys a lot of beer. Dark as hell.

I study nuclear science
I love my classes
I got a crazy teacher, he wears dark glasses

Don’t believe me?

Pat revealed on VH1’s 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s that the meaning of the song was widely misinterpreted as a positive perspective in regard to the near future. Pat somewhat clarified the meaning by stating that it was, contrary to popular belief, a "grim" outlook. While not saying so directly, he hinted at the idea that the bright future was in fact due to impending nuclear holocaust. The "job waiting" after graduation signified the demand for nuclear scientists to facilitate such events. Pat drew upon the multitude of past predictions which transcend several cultures that foreshadow the world ending in the 1980s, along with the nuclear tension at the height of the Cold Warto compile the song.
"Poison Ivy" by the Coasters (written by Lieber/Stoller).  According to lyricist Jerry Leiber, "Pure and simple, 'Poison Ivy' is a metaphor for a sexually transmitted disease"
Since I read what the song Thorn Tree In The Garden by Derek and the Dominoes (From Layla etc. album) is about, I cannot hear it again. In fact, I feel bad writing this.
  • Whitlock: "I was living at The Plantation in the valley - you remember the shootout at The Plantation in the Leon Russell song. I was living there with Indian Head Davis and Chuck Blackwell and Jimmy Constantine - there were about 13 of us in this house in Sherman Oaks in the valley. I had a little dog and a little cat. One guy told me to get rid of my dog and cat because there wasn't room. I took my cat out to Delaney's house in Hawthorn, and when I got back my little dog was gone. This one guy in the house had taken my dog and done away with it. That was my only friend - this was the first time I had been anywhere outside of Macon, Georgia or the Memphis area. All of this was new to me, and I have an animal thing. I wanted to punch him out, and I thought, 'No, you can't do that,' so I went to my bedroom and sat down. I was thinking about a snake in the grass and some other ideas and I thought, 'He's the thorn tree in my garden.' I had this beautiful garden built in my consciousness where I was safe and secure with my little dog and my cat, and there's this thorn tree - that would be the guy who had my little dog put away. I wrote the song and it just came out of me. I hadn't even put it on paper, and I went out of my bedroom and knocked on his door. I said, 'Come here, I want to play you something.' We sat down at the table in the kitchen and I played him that song. He said, 'Wow, Bobby, that's beautiful.' I said, 'You're the thorn tree. There's going to come a day when I have the opportunity to record this song, and the whole world will know about it. You'll know what you did to me for the rest of your life.' I didn't realize it was going to go on the end of one of the biggest-selling records of all time. That was the furthest thing from my mind."
I would have just put him in the hospital. Really wouldn't have thought twice about it.
Billie Holiday's classic "Strange Fruit" is about lynchings in the South.  Lyrics are very obvious but the title isn't:

Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees

Pastoral scene of the gallant south
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is a fruit for the crow to pluck
For the rain to wither, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

One that I always found sadly amusing was Sting's "Every Breath You Take," which was about stalking an ex. To show how little attention people pay to lyrics/music's message, this was a popular wedding dance song. 

As a Christian I disliked how the Beetles imported Eastern religion in to "My Sweet Lord", where halfway through the song the backing vocals shift from "Hallelujah" to "Hare Krishna", etc. 

What I find amusing is your take on George Harrison's art.

" Harrison wrote "My Sweet Lord" in praise of the Hindu god Krishna,[1] while intending the lyrics as a call to abandon religious sectarianism through his blending of the Hebrew word hallelujah with chants of "Hare Krishna" and Vedic prayer.[2] The recording features producer Phil Spector's Wall of Sound treatment and heralded the arrival of Harrison's slide guitar technique, which one biographer described as "musically as distinctive a signature as the mark of Zorro".[3] Preston, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, and the group Badfinger are among the other musicians on the recording."
One that I always found sadly amusing was Sting’s "Every Breath You Take," which was about stalking an ex. To show how little attention people pay to lyrics/music’s message, this was a popular wedding dance song.

YES! Good one! I tell people that’s the most popular song ever about a stalker and they look at me like I’m the one who doesn’t get it!

Since you’ve gone, I’ve been lost without a trace
I dream at night, I can only see your face
I look around but it’s you, I can’t replace
I feel so cold and I long for your embrace
I keep crying baby, baby please
THIS is a WEDDING dance song?!?!?! Just play Evergreen, people. Better boring than Orwellian!
yyzsantabarbara, point well taken. The term I used "imported" could be misconstrued to mean the Beetles had taken a Christian song and made it into an idolatrous song. It never was Christian, though a great many people thought it was, and were shocked to learn that the backing lyrics shifted halfway through the song.  :) 

Metallica, ’Enter Sandman’,

....is about crib death.

Source: the making of Metallica’s Black Album, 1 hour documentary, ’classic albums’ series - direct question, direct answer from James Hetfield. (with explanation)
The Song Closing Time by Semisonic is not about when the bars close, but about pregnancy.
Every time I hear "Santa Baby" in a shopping mall at Christmas, I wonder if people pay any attention to lyrics.  It is sung by someone offering sex for all sorts of material things from "Santa" with each stanza ending with "hurry down my chimney tonight;" anyone needs more than one guess as to what that means?

Melanie's song about rollerskates and a "Brand New Key" is a little bit more subtle, but the same subject.

Finally, I like the idea of the opposite--an innocent meaning to something that seems obviously not.  There is an obvious meaning to the Starland Vocal Band's "Afternoon Delight."  But the group insisted (probably falsely) that the reference is to the Happy Hour menu at the restaurant "Clydes" which is a local Washington DC area establishment (where the group comes from).
"hurry down my chimney tonight;" anyone needs more than one guess as to what that means?

Melanie's song about rollerskates and a "Brand New Key" is a little bit more subtle, but the same subject.

Someone has a dirty mind.

Next you'll be telling me there's some hidden meaning to I'm your backdoor man.
Yes, the Blues are an endless source of pretty interesting references--backdoor man means the guy who leaves through the backdoor when the husband comes in through the front door; I suppose it could have another obvious meaning. . .

Some other blues songs of interest:

"Shake Your Moneymaker" 

"Dust  My Broom"

For me, one the the creepiest songs is Sonny  Boy Williamson's:

"Good Morning, Little School Girl"

Look up the lyrics, they are so much worse than one can conger up in casual imagining.