I’ll never forget the first time I heard the brilliant Barenaked Ladies explain that their song, The Old Apartment, wasn’t actually about a guy so ruined over a break-up that he returns to the apartment he once shared with her, breaks in and wreaks havoc in his despair–but rather it was about a man who, still happily with his girlfriend, returns to their old apartment and waxes nostalgic (albeit sometimes bitterly) about their previous pad.
Now this may sound silly but when I heard this revelation I was, well, crushed. I didn’t want to know this was the actual story behind it. I loved the song (still do!) and I was so sure I “got” it–so sure I understood the angst and the grief and the disappointment and the–!
But no. We weren’t on the same page after all, were we, fellas?
Now, I still love you, yes I do. But you broke my heart just a little back then, you really did. (Insert Barenakeds to Erika: “Get over it”.)
But there’s the rub, isn’t it? We think we know, then we think we want to know for sure. So we read/listen to author interviews and maybe even attend a book signing, and much of the time, we do that because we want to hear more about the meat behind the message.
But what if we don’t? Maybe there’s something to be said for leaving something–oh heck, maybe everything–up for interpretation.
Do you think so too? Have you ever read a book or a poem, seen a movie, heard a song, and built your own understanding of it, only to learn later that the author had something very different in mind?