Rock fans across the globe could breathe a sigh of relief last week when it was finally revealed which bridge Anthony Kiedis spent so much quality time beneath in the 1980s. The “bridge downtown” in Red Hot Chili Peppers' 'Under The Bridge' turned out to be one in LA’s MacArthur Park, the area also celebrated in the old Jimmy Webb classic - er - 'MacArthur Park'.
So, one mystery down, a million to go. We may never find out what Bonio was looking for or how you can mend a broken heart (or how you can stop the rain from falling down, for that matter), but there are some long-standing song mysteries that we can all work together to solve, right? Who’s with me?
Diet? Ha ha ha ha. Oh. Anyway, we learn a lot about what Meat will do for love – “colourise” her life, make things “a little less cold”, hose her down “with holy water” – none of it too demanding, but the stuff he’d turn his nose up at is less obvious. Not according to Mr Loaf, mind. He’s since got rather incensed that no one seems to know and says it’s stated before every chorus. This means he would do anything for love except “forget the way you feel right now”, “forgive myself if we don’t go all the way tonight” or “stop dreaming of you every night of my life”. None of it makes the damnedest bit of sense.
It’s done Carly Simon no harm at all to have everyone speculating for THIRTY YEARS STRAIGHT. She reckons she whispered the name of the subject of ‘You’re So Vain’ in a re-recording last year – expert ‘analysis’ revealed it was music mogul David Geffen but even that’s been denied now. Other suspects over the years have included James Taylor, Warren Beatty and Mick Jagger, who actually sang backing vocals on the song. Sounds about right.
OK, it’s not exactly part of Radiohead's song but, whatever – it’s all of a piece now. What does that chap say at the end? It’s not as if they all want to lie on the ground with him in the first place. I mean, they’re all pretty irate. The video's director Jamie Thraves confirms the man really says something but, "I've never told anyone the idea, not my friends, not the band and not even my wife." So we have to work it out for ourselves. Does he tell them the world’s about to end? Are they meat-and-veg guitar rock fans and he’s warning them about ‘OK Computer”? We’re going with, “Simon says: everybody lie on the ground.”
Admittedly no one really worries about this one anymore, but all the kids in the 80s used to tear their mullets out fretting over Nik Kershaw’s gnomic lyrics. “Near a tree by a river there’s a hole in the ground/ Where an old man of Aran goes around and around/ And his mind is a beacon in the veil of the night…” etbloodycetera. Kershaw’s record company even ran a competition asking for fans to solve the riddle, but the great man himself eventually confessed it was guide vocal gibberish that just stuck. Unless, of course, he was hiding a darker truth. Ask British Sea Power – they got a whole album out of it (probably).
Us souls in the NME office donned our nattiest deerstalkers and deployed our finest sleuthing skills to try and find out who Randy Fitzsimmons is - and, frustratingly, we're still not sure we're any the wiser. He's the much-fabled and so-called 'sixth member' of The Hives who, despite never being spotted, is the Swedish band's reclusive Svengali and songwriter. Our detective work suggested that Fitzsimmons was actually a registered pseudonym for the band's guitarist Nicholaus Arson - something they flatly denied. We give up.
We know poor Billie Joe jumped, but the eerily matter-of-fact narrative of the rest of ‘Ode To Billie Joe’ has Bobbie Gentry’s character and Billie Joe spotted earlier by the shit-stirring Brother Taylor. They’re chucking something else off the bridge. Is it a wedding ring? Or is it an aborted baby? They’re the most discussed possibilities. Whatever it was, it was some bad shit, because it’s presumably what prompts Billie Joe to hurl himself off.
Can you help with any of these mysteries? Got any more? Join the investigation, Columbos.