Lies Popular Songs Have Told Me

When a song lyric resonates on your exact frequency, it gives you a feeling of connection with the outside world. “Someone gets me,” you might think, if you were a character Zach Braff played in a movie. When a lyric rings false, it’s the exact opposite. Sometimes it’s just a matter of perspective. Biggie once rapped, “Either you’re slinging crack rock, or you’ve got a wicked jump shot,” and I understood he wasn’t talking about people from my neighborhood. Other times, though, a supposedly universal experience doesn’t hold up. Maybe it hits you right away. Maybe it takes years for the falsity to reveal itself. Here are some of the lies music has told me.

The waiting is the hardest part. – Tom Petty

Know this about me: I trust Tom Petty in all important life matters. It is because of Tom Petty that I don’t live like a refugee and am able to tell people not to “do me like that” (take that as you will). For years, I thought that maybe the waiting was the hardest part. Years of careful research have shown me, however, that it is not.

The waiting is hard, but here are several parts that I would argue are harder…

The having no idea what you want in the first place.
The getting what you want and realizing it wasn’t worth the wait.
The part where a thing was great and then it slowly deteriorates and you stick with it until you just don’t have the energy anymore and you break up while on vacation and then you move to another city.
The waking up at eight in the morning after going to bed at five in the morning.
The using an airplane bathroom when there is a long line behind you.
The calculus.

Sometimes, Tom Petty, the calculus is the hardest part.

Maybe by being an “A” student, baby, it’ll bring your love to me. – Sam Cooke

Oh, Sam Cooke. You’re breaking my heart! You can’t make someone love you by being harder/ better/ faster/ stronger. If you learn nothing else from me, ever, learn this. It’s great to be well rounded, but there is no reason to try and romance someone who doesn’t like you for your natural skill set and disposition. How fun is it going to be six months from now when the initial thrill has worn off, and you’re tired of playing the character of Johnny Straight A’s, and all you want to do is record an album of classic soul music.

Although, Sam, if you’re not good at history, biology, trigonometry, science, or French, maybe you should transfer to a vocational school or an arts academy. You might find that better suited to your skill set, man. You’ve got to do you, Sam Cooke!

You can’t always get what you want. – Mick Jagger

You can always get what you want if you manage to obliterate your earthly desires and want nothing. Suck Buddhism, Jagger. “You can’t always get what you want/But if you try sometimes/You just might find/You get what you need,” is the musical equivalent of, “It is what it is.” (That is to say, sort of true because it could technically be no other way, and therefore annoying.)

Note: Personally, I can’t always get what I want, because I still long for that really expensive Biz Markie action figure I saw in a store one time. Also robot arms. I want robot arms. But I’m still not getting what I need, because I really need that action figure.

Speaking of wants v. needs…

All you need is love. – John Lennon

No, no, no! Health insurance! You need health insurance! Sure, when you’re in The Beatles, love is a top priority, but do you have any idea how much health insurance costs when you are buying it through COBRA from your old work? I would marry someone I couldn’t stand just to get vision and dental coverage. Really? Really.

The club can’t even handle me right now. – Flo Rida feat. David Guetta

I know that Flo Rida is speaking in the first person, here, and his lyrics only represent the opinions of Flo Rida (feat. David Guetta). But this is the least relatable song lyric I’ve ever heard. The club can always handle me. There are metal detectors and bouncers and people wearing watches that cost more than my car. I pretty much wear the same sweater every day like a character from a mid-90s Nickelodeon cartoon. It’s no contest.

I have never, ever, been out at night and thought: “I am in the zone right now. I am the best-dressed person here. Women are staring at me in awe. Men are also staring at me in awe. This very progressive club’s significant population of people with non-binary gender identities is staring at me in awe. I got this.”

Normally, when I’m a place with dancing, I worry about everything. Am I not drunk enough for this to be fun? Where did everyone learn these dances? Would Nicki Minaj make fun of me if we met in person? Simply put, I can’t handle the club. Right now or ever, really. TC mark

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  • Jana Pollack

    *applause*

  • http://twitter.com/alainalatona alainalatona

    Amazing.

  • Oliver Miller

    Josh Gondelman, you are a national treasure, like, um, Grant’s Tomb or something.

  • Mac

    Thoroughly enjoyed
    …club can handle me, favorite part

  • http://twitter.com/emilcDC Emil Caillaux

    Hilarious.

  • http://stefmagura.wordpress.com/ Stefanie Magura

    *Applause* Great article!

    And semi-related: I heard “What a Wonderful World” not long after reading this.  Lol.

  • J in DC

    Great article …. I want to see Part 2!

  • Goldglass

    I loved this as someone who grew up piecing together my conceptions of the world not through MTV, but through VH1.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_K3PHQ24R3GXAOOKMKAKTTMHZLA katie b

    I believe in Tom Petty like he is my own personal Messiah.

  • Guest

    “Fuck Bitches, Get Money” will apparently always be true.

  • Sydney Nikols

    your words regarding flo rida: inspirational. 

  • Carli

    Favorite sentences: 
    1. “I pretty much wear the same sweater every day like a character from a mid-90s Nickelodeon cartoon.” YES!!!!! SUCH A GOOD REFERENCE. …Why don’t those characters change outfits? Were they trying to be known for their “signature look?”
    2. “I know that Flo Rida is speaking in the first person, here, and his lyrics only represent the opinions of Flo Rida (feat. David Guetta).” The fact that you wrote “the opinions of Flo Rida (FEAT. DAVID GUETTA)” and not just “Flo Rida” MADE THIS SENTENCE!!! That part cracked me up!

    But I must say, to me, “the club can’t even handle me right now” is a very relatable sentence. I party hard, yo.

  • Michaelwg

    “Would Nicki Minaj make fun of me if we met in person?”
    This thought keeps me awake at night.

  • http://www.facebook.com/liam.plested Liam Plested

    Of course, The Beatles never had to worry about Health Insurance, since they were covered by the NHS. So maybe all THEY needed was love.

  • http://goldenday.tumblr.com/ Kia Etienne

    love this, Josh!

  • Joycenancy

    ” Where did everyone learn these dances?” I’m dying of hilarity!!!!!!!!!! more funnies please forever.

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