Most of us imagine that the creative process as it relates to songwriting probably goes something like this: take drugs, hallucinate, and then write down what you see. Strangely, that's also how a lot of history's most famous "prophets" came upon the predictions that eventually made them famous. So it should come as no surprise that, from time to time, the two fields meet in a rocktastic explosion of guitars, drums, and telling people about stuff before it happens.
Here are five songs that eerily predicted the future, in mind-boggling detail ...
Even though it was ranked among Rolling Stone's 500 greatest albums of all time, Wilco's career-defining album almost didn't see the light of day. And, surprisingly, it had nothing to do with the fact that it predicted one of the biggest national tragedies ever in two different songs. Check out these terrifying lines and try picturing them as something other than a reference to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. First, from the song "Jesus, Etc.":
"Tall buildings shake
Voices escape singing sad sad songs ...
Skyscrapers are scraping together
Your voice is smoking"
And now, from "War on War":
"Moving forward through the flaming doors ...
You have to lose
You have to learn how to die if you want to be alive"
The lyrics in "Jesus, Etc." -- with descriptions of quaking skyscrapers and whining voices -- are obvious allusions to the terrible images we saw on the news for the months following the terrorist attacks. "War on War" then, is about the aftermath and the rebuilding of New York City. Of course, the title is also an apt description of the disenchantment many Americans felt about the wars that followed.
Excited at the prospect of a justifiable platform for their sarcastic political comments.
However, not only was all of it recorded well in advance, but if it were not for some legendary record label dickery, it would have been released on the exact day of the tragedy it accidentally documented.
A couple of other nifty notes about this album: 1) It features another song called "Ashes of American Flags" and 2) The cover art bears a passing resemblance to a couple of tall buildings. So there's that. Reviews of Yankee Foxtrot Hotel call the album "telepathic" and "mysterious," because calling it "sonic witchcraft" is too on the nose.
But the all-seeing Eye of Varglanos still gets digital rights.
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Nicki Minaj may be best known for portraying an Ecstasy-overloaded Barbie doll with multiple personalities and an ass that swallowed Lil' Kim's career, but did you know she also has clairvoyant abilities behind those insane, dead eyes? Check out these Nostradamabars:
"Why'd you have to leave in July?
On a peaceful and serene summer night ...
Why the doctors could not stop the bleeding ...
Now you see you not bullet proof ...
I could've told you about my intuition ...
Why'd you have to go so soon?"
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Then she cast a levitation spell and flew away, giggling.
When that track, called "We Miss You," showed up online, it was almost immediately following the news that Nicki Minaj's cousin, Nicholas Telemaque, had been shot to death. Clearly it was written in response to the tragedy -- for starters, her cousin was gunned down on July 4 ("Why'd you have to leave in July?"), in the East Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. Although we're not sure any night in Brooklyn counts as serene, unless Minaj was just mispronouncing "siren."
So big deal, a lot of rappers write about losing loved ones due to gang violence, even the ones who grew up in Malibu. But in fact, Minaj recorded the song almost a year earlier, and had even shopped it around to artists like Mariah Carey and Keyshia Cole to see if they'd be interested in recording it instead. And knowing that, the other details thrown in are downright creepy -- she says paramedics rushed him to the hospital, but he unfortunately bled out ("Why the doctors could not stop the bleeding?") from his multiple gunshot wounds.
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"The doctor's Social Security number is ..."
Adding a little extra spookiness, Minaj actually mentions her own prescience in a verse, lamenting how she should have warned the subject of her song about his impending death.
Now, some believe this wasn't a prediction at all, but a ritual sacrifice to the Dark Lord of Hip-Hop to ensure that Minaj received a slice of fame. These logical people believe that her cousin gave his life, retroactively, in exchange for the success of "Super Bass." Nothing in the preceding three sentences was a joke.
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Thank you, Satan!
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Jesus Christ, do any of these albums predict good things? Nobody wrote a song about finding a stray puppy, only to have one later show up at his door and become his best friend forever?
After breaking away from Something Corporate -- a band that made Good Charlotte seem downright dangerous by comparison -- lead singer Andrew McMahon decided he wanted to write something a little more personal. So, under the name Jack's Mannequin, he recorded Everything in Transit, an album about a man returning home to his native Los Angeles and settling into the groove of everyday life after being on tour for the last several years. It's possible that it's autobiographical.
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His last album was about a piano player who sometimes has a weird discharge from his butthole.
But amid an album so upbeat that it sounds like the Beach Boys mid-coitus, it might be difficult to see the subtler, more sinister story being told. Buckle up, happy face:
"She thinks I'm much too thin, she asks me if I'm sick."
"I'm far too unstable to settle, I doubt that the doctors are wrong."
"I'll wait for the ambulance to come pick us up off the floor. What did you possibly expect under this condition?"
"Come quick, I am losing feeling."
"It's unclear, but this may be my last song."
"Someone get this man to a hospital!"
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"No, seriously, there's a list of allergies tattooed on my neck."
You probably don't need us to tell you what's coming. Two months before Everything in Transit was scheduled for release, Andrew McMahon was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). And here's a fun coincidence: The day he was diagnosed with cancer was the same day he finished mastering the last song on the album. So all of those sad words above that are very obviously about a very sick man were written before McMahon had any idea he had cancer. In fact, it was nothing more than a few instances of losing his voice that initially sent McMahon to the doctor, who could tell that something was amiss just from the state of McMahon's complexion.
Though he never actually sings the word "cancer," the album is absolutely littered with references to hospitals and doctor's visits -- the first track even opens with a distant siren -- as well as frequent suggestions that the narrator needs to take some time away from his career, something that constant chemotherapy treatments and lengthy hospital stays could certainly cause.
Adding another layer of eerie frosting to this coincidence cake is this little tidbit about the origins of the band name. Jack's Mannequin is named for one of the first songs McMahon wrote during his hiatus from Something Corporate called "Dear Jack." The "Jack" in that title -- and the person who inspired the song -- was the younger brother of one of McMahon's friends. And he happened to be battling leukemia.
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Like a fucking man.
McMahon acknowledges the eeriness of these coincidences, noting that "if you listen to the record, there are all these odd little premonitions worked into it." Yeah, "odd" is one word to describe it. McMahon tiptoes around the fact that his own songwriting practically diagnosed him with cancer before doctors did, but we're pretty sure he still thinks he has those psychic abilities, judging from the title of his next album: Candy Blow Jobs in a Gold-Plated Mansion Rocket.