10 Great Metaphors from Popular 1970’s Songs

Metaphors are used to compare an object or a person to something that is not directly relatable. Most lyricists use metaphorical language to describe their thoughts and emotions. It fuels the passions and tugs at heartstrings and gives the right idea to the listeners. Behind all metaphors, the singers also present themes that are directly or indirectly connected to the current events and visions of a lyricist. The songs in the 1970s were revolutionary and also was an era of change in the music genres.

Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven

[Verse 1]

There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven
When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for
Ooh, ooh, and she’s buying a stairway to heaven
There’s a sign on the wall but she wants to be sure
‘Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings
In a tree by the brook, there’s a songbird who sings
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven

This song is the depiction of the last moments of a lady’s life. She passed her whole life being greedy, in worldly happiness and materials, now her life is going to end. The singer wonders if she is on her way to heaven. Here “songbird” is a metaphor for the thoughts.

Bennie And The Jets –  Elton John and Bernie Taupin

Hey kids, shake it loose together
The spotlight’s hitting something
That’s been known to change the weather
We’ll kill the fatted calf tonight
So stick around
You’re gonna hear electric music
Solid walls of sound

The song tells us about the fictional band whom the lyricist was a big fan. The ‘fatted calf ‘ is a metaphor for the traditions of the music industry of the 70s. Killing the fatted calf is the sign of changing this era with a glamorous lifestyle. The band had begun using electronic instruments of music when no one was using them

Hotel California – Eagles

Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place (such a lovely place)
Such a lovely face.
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Any time of year (any time of year) you can find it here

Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes Benz
She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys, that she calls friends
How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat
Some dance to remember, some dance to forget

‘Tiffany-twisted’ is a metaphor for the obsession with wealth, expensive jewelry and status. ‘Tiffany’ is an old famous jewelry company in New York. Here it is used as a metaphor for the love of wealth. The song Hotel California is a metaphor for the lavish lifestyle in Los Angeles.

Into The Mystic – Van Morrison

We were born before the wind
Also younger than the sun
Ere the bonnie boat was won
As we sailed into the mystic

Hark, now hear the sailors cry
Smell the sea and feel the sky
Let your soul and spirit fly
Into the mystic

The song is about changes in the 70s and the birth of new spiritual doctrines, which were mysterious even to the followers. The bonnie boat is a metaphor sailing in the ocean or the journey of life.

David Bowie – Star Man

There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’d like to come and meet us
But he thinks he’d blow our minds
There’s a starman waiting in the sky
He’s told us not to blow it
‘Cause he knows it’s all worthwhile
He told me
Let the children lose it
Let the children use it
Let all the children boogie

This song is about the young generation of the 70s, who were more intelligent and open-minded than others. Starman is a metaphor for learning and enlightenment. It can also be depicted as the children’s idols, or some heavenly help or guidance to take refuge from the darkness and selfishness.

Landslide – Fleet Wood mac  

I took my love, and I took it down
I climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered hills
‘Til the landslide brought me down

The landslide is a metaphor for time, which is moving fast, changing life in many ways. The slippery moments transfer us in a new phase. “I climb the mountain and turn around’ is the recollection of past memories Further the snow-covered hills can be for the graying of the previous generation. The landslide can also be interpreted as the change in one’s personality.

You Are The Sunshine Of My Life – Stevie Wonder

You are the sunshine of my life
That’s why I’ll always be around
You are the apple of my eye
Forever you’ll stay in my heart

In this song, the word sunshine is a metaphor for love. Stevie Wonder called his wife, Syreeta ‘sunshine’ out of love and wrote this song for her. The phrase Apple of my eye is also a metaphor for something dearest and nearest.

American Pie – Don Mc Lean

Bye, bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
Them good ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye
And singin’ this’ll be the day that I die
This’ll be the day that I die

Oh, and there we were all in one place
A generation lost in space
With no time left to start again

The entire American Pie is a reference to several incidents and pop culture from the 1950s to 1960s. According to the singer, in the 1970s the true form of art and music was dying, and they were too many changes culture as well as landscape.  Hence, Bye, bye Miss American Pie is an extended metaphor for the changes and life in the 1960s.

The Beatles – The Long and Winding road

The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I’ve seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to your door

The Long and Winding road song was last number one and the 20th song by the Beatles. The door is here used as a metaphor for a person’s heart. The long and winding road is a metaphor for the struggle or to win someone’s trust. We can open the door of our hearts for someone sincere and trustworthy.

Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell

They took all the trees
And put them in a tree museum
And they charged all the people
A dollar and a half to see ’em
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
‘Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And they put up a parking lot

Hey farmer farmer
Put away that D.D.T. now
Give me spots on my apples
But leave me the birds and the bees
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
‘Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

The song is a call to protect our planet earth and its environment. Though it is written in the 1970s, it is very much applicable to this day. The singer points out people love unnatural things instead of nature. Paved paradise is a metaphor for the destruction of the forests or a garden to construct a parking lot.