Music/Lists

6 unsolved musical mysteries (and 2 solved ones)

February 26, 2016

Mysterious deaths, lyrical clues, spaghetti incidents, and more.

Over the years, some musical mysteries have proved more tough to crack than others, so we’ve gathered a few of the prime offenders in order to get to the bottom of things.

Let’s go. First up, an easy one:

What won’t Meat Loaf do for love?

STATUS: CASE CLOSED

Start a low-carb diet? *backboard shatters from massive dunk* Yeah, this one’s been thoroughly explained by the Loafer over the years: the ‘that’ in question is stated midway through each of the five verses in “I Would Do Anything For Love.” So, just in case you missed the memo / that 1998 episode of VH1 Storytellers where he explicitly spells it out, the things that Meat Loaf won’t do are, in order:

– “forget the way you feel right now”

– “forgive myself if we don’t go all the way tonight”

– “do it better than I do it with you”

– “stop dreaming of you every night of my life”

OK, I made one of those up.

Who is Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” really about?

STATUS: CASE 1/3 CLOSED

This one pops up again and again whenever the estate of Carly Simon feels the need for a publicity blitz; at this point you just want to exasperatedly shake her by the shoulders and scream “Just tell us already! It’s Gore Vidal isn’t it?! ISN’T IT!?” as police rush towards you.

Over the years, Simon has engaged in the world’s most irritating game of Guess Who, letting it be known that the anonymous individual’s name has the letters A, E, and R, and that she’d hidden the identity in a certain version of the track. Noted straight shooter Howard Stern also said in 2008 that Simon revealed to him the song is about a composite of three different super-egoists.

Most recently, Simon definitively revealed that Warren Beatty was the subject of one the verses, but the identity of the other two people remains a mystery. Kanye? Nah, no R, plus the timeline doesn’t really fit. Still though: could it be Kanye? It’s probably Kanye, I’m pretty sure Yeezy Season 3 includes an apricot scarf alongside $1,000 ripped tees.

What does the dude say to make everyone lie on the ground at the end of Radiohead’s “Just” video?

STATUS: INVESTIGATION ONGOING

What exactly the man lying on the sidewalk says to make the crowd lie down at the end of the Jamie Thraves-directed “Just” video is one of the most enduring music video mysteries ever (even beating out what mystical energy is propping up Mike Score’s hair in Flock of Seagull’s “I Ran”, or how Bowie and Jagger’s “Dancing In The Street” made it to broadcast without anyone saying anything).

Speculation about the mysterious utterance is rampant, usually revolving around the phrase “it must be something like, so deep, dude”. Whatever it is, neither the band nor the director is telling, and hasn’t since the video’s release back in 1995. “To tell you would deaden the impact, and probably make you want to lie down in the road too,” Thraves has said of the inscrutable pronouncement.

So, to sum up: probably something like, so deep, dude. Or possibly the most dire sentence anyone’s ever said: “It’s a TIDAL exclusive.”

Who killed Bobby Fuller?

STATUS: INVESTIGATION ONGOING

Within months of his band’s high-octane (for its time, anyway) cover of “I Fought The Law” hitting #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1966, Bobby Fuller mysteriously passed away. The Texan guitar wizard, Buddy Holly disciple, and leader of the Bobby Fuller Four was found dead in his mother’s Oldsmobile in front of his Hollywood apartment at age 23.

According to the medical report, Fuller was found with a plastic hose in his hand leading to a gas can, but details surrounding his death might muddy the waters regarding this apparently clear-cut case of suicide. Reportedly, the car had not been in the parking lot 30 minutes before being found by Fuller’s mother, and Fuller’s body was in an advanced state of rigor mortis, implying he had died long before.

For his part, Fuller Four bandmate Jim Reese suspected Charles Manson may have had something to do with Fuller’s death, while other noted that this was the third artist signed to Bob Keane’s Del-Fi Records to die unusually: both Richie Valens and Sam Cooke had been killed under strange circumstances, by 1959 plane crash and 1964 homicide, respectively.

A book by former Cramps drummer and punk lifer Miriam Linna advances the theory that Fuller’s death was ordered by the notorious and ultra-connected owner of Roulette Records, Morris Levy… a.k.a. the “Godfather of the American music business”, a songwriter of whose had written Fuller’s single “The Magic Touch.”

What happened to Manic Street Preachers’ Richey Edwards?

STATUS: INVESTIGATION ONGOING

Officially presumed dead in 2008, the Manic Street Preacher’s lyricist and rhythm guitarist Richey Edwards disappeared on February 1st, 1995, and hasn’t been heard from since.

Initially a driver and roadie for the band before becoming their principal lyricist despite a lack of musical ability, Edwards wasn’t exactly the most stable individual at the best of times: in 1991, he carved the words ‘4 REAL’ in his arm with a razorblade when asked by an NME journalist if he was serious about MSP’s music, requiring 18 stitches.

On the day of Edwards’ disappearance, he and fellow Preacher James Dean Bradfield were due to fly to the US for a promotional tour, but Edwards never showed. That’s largely the extent of anyone’s knowledge about Edwards since, despite what a multitude of supposed sightings in India and the Canary Islands might lead you to believe.

Speaking to The Observer on the 20th anniversary of Edward’s disappearance last year, Manic Street Preachers member Nicky Wire said:

“We’ve never looked at it in terms of closure. We live with it day by day. There’s no other way to deal with it because there are no answers. We live with the reality of it. It’s the only way we learned to move forward in the band itself. He still feels part of the band.

Who is the Rolling Stones’ “Angie” really about?

STATUS: PARTIALLY SOLVED

Legend has it that Mick Jagger wrote the immortal “Angie” about David Bowie’s first wife Angela and her less-than-open-minded reaction to walking in on Jagger and Bowie in bed together, a story she told in both her autobiography and on a 1990 episode of The Joan Rivers Show. “What the hell?” I know, I can’t believe she had a talk show either.

Keith Richards cleared up the confusion in his 2010 autobiography Life, claiming that he came up with the title and that the song was about no one particular, not even his then-newborn daughter Angela, because, as he so charmingly put it, “In those days you didn’t know what sex the thing was going to be until it popped out.”

For his part, Jagger always vehemently denied the tall tale, not that he needed to. Yeah, no kidding Bowie wouldn’t go for you dude, I mean, we all saw the “Dancing In The Street” video. As if Bowie’d go for someone who thought a lime green pirate blouse was a good idea, not to mention danced like that.

What was Guns N’ Roses “Spaghetti Incident”?

Apparently, it’s a reference to a fight between Axl and Steve Adler that occurred during the writing sessions for Use Your Illusion in 1989. During the sessions, Adler’s unbreakable code for his stash of crack cocaine was “spaghetti”, and while the then-fired Adler was later suing Gn’R, a lawyer asked Duff McKagan about a “spaghetti incident” in a deposition.

Side note: “The Spaghetti Incident?” is my nominee for laziest, shittiest-looking album art of all time.

Who let the goddamn dogs out?

STATUS: CASE CLOSED (OR IS IT?) (??) (???)

Our foolproof method (flipping through an address book at random) points to one J. Michael Fullerton of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, but take that with a grain of salt.

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