#2. The "Horse" in "Horse With No Name" HAS to be Heroin ...
Even if you've only heard this song once, chances are you know the chorus by heart:
"I've been through the desert on a horse with no name/ It felt good to be out of the rain/ In the desert you can't remember your name/ 'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain."
"My name is Chuck, CHUCK dammit! Nobody fucking listens."
Ridiculous grammar aside, obviously this means something, because nobody writes that kind of line unless there's some deeper meaning behind it. And "horse" is a pretty old and well known slang term for heroin, so naturally that's what a bunch of people figured the song was about. Back in the '70s the song was even banned from several radio stations because of its supposed drug reference.
The most common beliefs are that the band (America) is either singing about doing heroin (hallucinations) or about the effects of heroin withdrawal ("After two days in the desert sun/ My skin began to turn red"). Honestly, it all fits together nicely if you think about it: The desert symbolizes the effects of the withdrawal, the horse symbolizes the heroin and the ocean/river at the end symbolizes the clarity of rehabilitation. Perhaps America are skilled wordsmiths that deserve more credit. After all, it's not like their band name is trite and obvious.
This couldn't be more pulled from the ass if it were literally torn from the anus of a donkey. Let's save time here by going straight to Dewey Bunnell, the man who actually wrote the song:
"I wanted to capture the imagery of the desert, because I was sitting in this room in England, and it was rainy."
"I fingerpainted this desert and then I wrote a song about it."
"I had spent a good deal of time poking around in the high desert with my brother when we lived [in California]. And we'd drive through Arizona and New Mexico. I loved the cactus and the heat. I was trying to capture the sights and sounds of the desert, and there was an environmental message at the end. But ... I see now that this anonymous horse was a vehicle to get me away from all the confusion and chaos of life to a peaceful, quiet place."
So, back when he was a kid, Dewey was playing around in the desert, found it interesting and years later wrote a song about it with a message about the environment. No heroin-induced hallucinations or allegorical desert, but real, actual desert.
Dewey Bunnell, human cipher.
#1. But "Turning Japanese" Is Definitely About Masturbation, Right, Guys?
English band the Vapors released a song in 1980 called "Turning Japanese," much to the chagrin of the current status quo. You see, in addition to being vaguely racist, "turning Japanese" is a slang phrase for masturbation, specifically referring to how one's eyes become screwed up and narrow at the climax of a particularly feverish hand shandy. Now this could easily be a coincidence in name, but listen to the lyrics (or read them, your choice):
"I've got your picture of me and you/ You wrote 'I love you' I wrote 'me too'/ I sit there staring and there's nothing else to do."
Not pictured: Jergen's.
So he has a picture of his girlfriend and finds he has "nothing else to do."
"I've got your picture, I've got your picture/ I'd like a million of you all round my cell/ I want a doctor to take your picture/ So I can look at you from inside as well."
We're still not seeing the Japanese.
He mentions a cell, so this must mean he's in prison. Also, he seems to want an X-ray of her, for some reason. Or photos from her colonoscopy.
"No sex, no drugs, no wine, no women/ No fun, no sin, no you, no wonder it's dark/ Everyone around me is a total stranger/ Everyone avoids me like a cyclone ranger/ That's why I'm turning Japanese/ I think I'm turning Japanese/ I really think so."
The Vapors, demonstrating every stage of the mullet life cycle.
It would seem that this trail of lyrical bread crumbs leads to but one place: Fistopolis. Population: This guy's wiener. Just take a look at the people interviewed in this video, at about 2 minutes 20 seconds. It's a pretty popular interpretation, and any sites mentioning the song on the Internet eventually come to the same conclusion.
We really wanted this one to be true, but the only thing this song has in common with spanking it in a darkened room is that it's about feelings of shame and loneliness. If you watch the end of that video linked above, the band finally tells us what it's really about:
Hint: Nothing Japanese.
"The Americans seemed to think it was written about that. That it was an English phrase about masturbation. It wasn't. The song was a love song about someone who had lost their girlfriend and was going slowly crazy -- turning Japanese is just all the cliches of our angst... turning into something you never expected to."
So no, the Vapors' song isn't about dick-whittling (masturbation/penis joke quota met). It's simply about a man who has taped hundreds of pictures of a woman he's obsessed with around his tiny room as he plots to see her insides, and whose emotions can apparently transform him into a Japanese man like the Incredible Hulk.
As illustrated here.
See? It makes perfect sense.
For more misconstrued meanings, check out 6 Pieces of Music That Mean The Opposite of What You Think and 8 Romantic Songs You Didn't Know Were About Rape.
And stop by LinkSTORM to discover the true meaning of "Wonderwall."
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