Unexpectedly, nothing about rock music is simple. It’s challenging to even identify the genre. There are several definitions of rock, most of which involve electric guitars with blues influences, powerful rhythms, and loud loudness in some fashion, according to Britannica.
LED ZEPPELIN – DANCING DAYS
The song was created, as per Ultimate Classic Rock, after Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page visited Bombay and fell in love with the Indian music they heard there. They were inspired by the experience to create a song that was so rhythmic it made them want to dance, giving rise to the song’s title.
JIMI HENDRIX – PURPLE HAZE
Many people have theorized throughout the years that psychedelic substances caused “Purple Haze” to occur. Hendrix, however, claims that it was really motivated by a dream he had after reading a science fiction book (via Far Out Magazine). He was submerged and encircled by a dense purple haze in the dream, which he compared to a spiritual awakening.
AMERICA – VENTURA HIGHWAY
The song’s idea, according to lyricist Dewey Bunnell, originated from an incident where he was a little child in California and was pulled over on the side of the road. Young Bunnell enjoyed the scenery as his father worked on the flat tire, which included a “Ventura” highway sign and cloud patterns that reminded him of the alligator lizards he and his brother used to hunt.
THE BEATLES – I AM THE WALRUS
Lennon set out to compose a piece that was so out there that nobody could decipher its meaning after learning that literary courses at his former school were delving into the significance of the Beatles’ songs. After writing the lyrics, he delightedly exclaimed, “Let the f***ers work that one out, Pete,” to his old pal.
DIO – HOLY DIVER
It’s a religious composition about a Christ-like character on another planet named the Holy Diver who must go to other universes in order to rescue more lives, according to lyricist Ronnie James Dio, who spoke with Banger in 2004.
THE GRATEFUL DEAD – CHINA CAT SUNFLOWER
Hunter revealed to Robert Gans (via Dead.net) that the song’s idea came to him while he was in a “hypersensitive state” and had a cat on his tummy in Mexico. The cat, according to him, then took him to Neptune, where he saw a procession of cats parading over a rainbow.
STEVE MILLER BAND – THE JOKER
The 1954 R&B song “The Letter” by The Medallions, wherein singer Vernon Green spoke of a “puppetutes” (a term he had used to refer to a paper doll fantasy lady), may have served as inspiration for Steven Miller.
QUEEN – BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY
Frontman Freddie Mercury never truly clarified the meaning of the composition, according to American Songwriter. But several of his close friends claim that it was probably a lyrical allusion to Mercury stepping out as bisexual.
ELTON JOHN – SOLAR PRESTIGE A GAMMON
The song’s lyrics, as per John in Elizabeth Rosenthal’s book “His Song,” were intended to sound beautiful without having any real sense. Influenced by the tune “Sun King” by The Beatles, in which fictitious Italian-sounding lyrics meld flawlessly with the melody.
HEART – BARRACUDA
Heart’s Ann Wilson allegedly composed the lyrics to “Barracuda” in a hotel suite right after seeing a slimy promoter who thought she was seeing her sister, Nancy Wilson. This is reported by Far Out Magazine. Its development was motivated by rage at the pervasive misogyny in the music business.
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN/MANFRED MANN’S EARTH BAND – BLINDED BY THE LIGHT
Springsteen told VH1 Storytellers that although the lyrics are mysterious, “I was 23 years old, I wanted to create my own ridiculous language. So, it was really a young musician’s tale, a litany of adventures and rather on the autobiographical side.”
DEF LEPPARD – POUR SOME SUGAR ON ME
According to Joe Elliot when penning the lyrics he may have begun with phonetic tones that suited the music instead of phrases while creating the lyrics, which might account for the song’s abundance of sweet images but complete lack of logic.