10 Great Metaphors from Popular 1990’s Songs

The 90s was known as the era of ‘luxury fever’. Coffee, cigars, and gambling were common. Relationships and family institutions started to become weak. Most of the lyricists used a feathery metaphor, soft tone, and light moods. On the other hand, some songs were composed to encourage value and inner goodness. Most of the songs have love themes. The metaphor plays an important role in songs to depict the true meaning hidden in the song. The metaphors in the 90s songs are more strong and solid as compared to past years. Here are a few examples of metaphors from the 1990s songs.

Ray of Light – Madonna

Zephyr in the sky at night I wonder
Do my tears of mourning sink beneath the sun
She’s got herself a universe gone quickly
For the call of thunder threatens everyone

And I feel like I just got home
And I feel
And I feel like I just got home
And I feel

Faster than the speeding light she’s flying
Trying to remember where it all began
She’s got herself a little piece of heaven
Waiting for the time when Earth shall be as one

Quicker than a ray of light

The song expresses both happy and sad feelings. The singer is happy for her audience and sad for her mother. The ray of light is a metaphor for hope. The lighted lime figures cannot conceal their melancholy moods from the audience. They want to spend some moments with their sorrows to console themselves. “Sink beneath the sun” is a metaphor to sorrow. ‘Quicker than a ray of light’ means the journey toward heaven or some speedy response to overcome sorrows.

Smashing Pumpkins – Quiet

We are the fossils
The relics of our time
We mutilate the meanings
So they’re easy to deny

Be ashamed
Mess you’ve made
My eyes never forget, you see
Behind me

I am sleeping

This song is a reflection of childhood days. The words which a child hears from elders’ Mess you’ve made’. We can feel some painful memories and silence as expressed in the title. The singer wants nature to be helpful for humanity. He wants refuge from this horrible world. The word Fossils is a metaphor of unemotional and selfless people. He says that he was metaphorically sleeping for a while, but the realities are so harsh that he wants to sleep again.

Enter Sandman – Metallica

Say your prayers, little one
Don’t forget, my son
To include everyone
Tuck you in, warm within
Keep you free from sin
Till the sandman he comes

Sleep with one eye open
Gripping your pillow tight

Exit: light
Enter: night
Take my hand
We’re off to never never land

This song is about a child’s nightmares. Sandman is a metaphor for the deepest fears of the human mind. It takes us in the nightmarish world chased by a mysterious figure, who is ready to grab you if you are not careful. The singer is asking to be alert. Here Neverland is a metaphor for a place of comfort.

The Boy with the Arab Strap – Belle and Sebastian

What did you learn from your time in the solitary
Cell of your mind?
There was noises, the distractions from anything good
And the old prison food
Colour my life with the chaos of trouble
‘Cause anything’s better than posh isolation
I missed the bus
You were laid on your back

In this song, cell (jail) is a metaphor for the limit of our thinking or not thinking outside the box. The entire song is an extended metaphor for isolation and a trapped mind. The smell of bad food is a metaphor for the bad realities or behavior of people. According to the singer, people are so selfish that they don’t like helping anyone. ‘Colour my life with the chaos of trouble’. This line has paradoxical elements: color and chaos.

The Temple Of The King – Dio Blackmore

One day in the year of the fox
Came a time remembered well
When the strong young man of the rising sun
Heard the tolling of the great black bell

One day in the year of the fox
When the bell began to ring
Meant the time had cometh for one to go
To the temple of the king

There in the middle of the circle he stands
Searching, seeking
With just one touch of his trembling hand
The answer will be found

In this song, the Year of Fox also means the Year of Titans. The man of light or strong young man might be a metaphor of the Christ for Christians, The Mehdi of Muslims or Buddhist or a world leader.’ The Black bell is a metaphor for death. To the temple of the king’, the king is used as a metaphor for God. This circle is a metaphor for human limitations.

Wonderwall – Oasis

I said maybe, you’re gonna be the one that saves me
And after all, you’re my wonderwall

I said maybe, you’re gonna be the one that saves me
you’re gonna be the one that saves me
you’re gonna be the one that saves me

In this song, the word ‘Wonderwall’  is a metaphor for the person you think about constantly or even an image. The song is about love which cures the loneliness of others and makes them happy.  He says that she is her Wonderwall one that comforts, protects, cares and above all supports him in many ways.

Waterfall – The Stone Roses

Stands on shifting sands
The scales held in her hands
The wind it just whips her and waits
And fills up her brigantine sails

She’ll carry on through it all
She’s a waterfall
She’ll carry on through it all

She’s a waterfall

In the above lines, the waterfall is a metaphor for a girl who keeps traveling and never staying at one place. The underlying idea is that British culture is infiltrated by American power and culture. The impression of change, movement, evolution, and modernity is evident in the song. The song has also a glimpse of the statue of ‘Old Bailey’ stands on the globe, her flowing gown rushes down around the earth like a waterfall.

Poison – Alice Cooper

Poison (poison)
Runnin’ deep inside my veins
Burnin’ deep inside my brain (poison)
Poisoning (poison)
I don’t want to break these chains (poison)
(Poison) I don’t want to break these chains (poison)

Here the word ‘poison’ is a metaphor for the betrayal of a woman. He wants to be with her but he knows that she is toxic. Staying with her would slowly kill him. In an alternative interpretation, poison is a metaphor for drugs like heroin. These lines are spoken by an addict who is under the influence of this poison.

Spider Web – No doubt

And now I’m stuck in the web
You’re spinning
You’ve got me for your prey
Sorry I’m not home right now
I’m walking into spiderwebs
So leave a message

In the above lines, the spider web is a metaphor for the love trap. It’s also about broken friendship. Here, the boy had betrayed her and now calling her back. She cannot resist his calls and saying that his love is a cobweb which entangled her so badly that besides her efforts she cannot ignore him. He is shown as a spider that is spinning around his prey.

November rain – Guns N’ Roses

Nothin’ lasts forever
And we both know hearts can change
And it’s hard to hold a candle
In the cold November rain

November rain is a metaphor for troubled patches of a relationship, linking the dreary and sad feeling of two. The candle is a metaphor for love. November rain is an extended metaphor for depression. The singer accepts that love and life are temporary and people can change according to their needs.