There are a lot of songs out there, usually out of one hit wonders, that get labeled as novelty songs, and more often than not, people claim the song is bad, and that they hate it. However, some times a well known band puts out a song, and it is thrown under the bus as a stupid, meaningless song, and people wonder how it even charted. Today’s terms call this an, “awesomely bad” song.

Case in point, the authors of the popular song, “white rabbit” known to 60s fans as Jefferson Airplane, decided to put out a song in the 80s, under practically the same name, except airplane was replaced with starship. Now, I don’t know a thing about these guys. I was also too lazy to look anything up. I’m just here to tell you that their 80s song, “We Built This City,” is actually pretty deep. Despite cries about how it’s dumb and awful, it actually does have a message, and I presume most who trash it, never actually paid attention. In fact, the song is so bad, I referenced it in my book, “Subject Alpha,” available on Amazon for just 99 cents!

So now, I present to you, dear readers, and those of you who only read my blog because you think me an entertaining trainwreck (I love you guys, too) I present to you the real meaning of Jefferson Starship’s, “We Built This City.” Remember, my thoughts are in parenthesis!

“We Built This City”

Music and lyrics by Jefferson Starship

We built this city
We built this city on rock and roll
(The only city I know of that was truly built on rock n roll would be San Francisco. This song came out in the 80s. Picture it, San Francisco, circa 1980s)
Built this city
We built this city on rock and roll

Say you don’t know me or recognize my face
(Obviously this man has run into somebody from his past who doesn’t seem to be happy to see him)
Say you don’t care who goes to that kind of place
(I’m assuming these two used to hang out at a seedy bar or perhaps a free love convention, and one still goes while the other doesn’t, and is trying to distance himself from it, while appearing non judgmental)
Knee deep in the hoopla, sinking in your fight
(The 1980s was notorious for the yuppie movement. Free lovers from the 60s had turned to corporate robots, working a 9-5, and fighting for the American dream, but…)
Too many runaways eating up the night
(It backfired, see the 1980s saw a mass influx of teenage runaways who felt stifled by what was expected of them by their parents. Here, he’s suggesting that the yuppie parenting isn’t working for teens. They’re running away because they want the freedom to be themselves, and not a corporate robot that their parents turned into)

Marconi plays the mambo, listen to the radio
(Marconi invented the radio, primarily to send messages to and from various people. Remember the titanic? Those messages were sent on an old Marconi rotary spark gap. I don’t know if the man did much with Mambo, however)
Don’t you remember?
We built this city
We built this city on rock and roll
(Here, he’s trying to remind his former hippie friend that they built an entire generation on free love, rock n roll, and over all good times.)

We built this city
We built this city on rock and roll
Built this city
We built this city on rock and roll
(Just hammering the point home in a chorus. You can’t complain about repetition. Today’s music has a ton of annoying repetition. See– any hip hop or pop song)

Someone’s always playing corporation games
(Meaning, you may think you’re free. You may think you control your life, but you don’t. The corporation you work for, owns you)
Who cares, they’re always changing corporation names
(The 1970s-1980s saw a lot of mergers, and corporate name changes. This lyric also alludes to the fact that two people call things by different names, but it’s still the same thing.)
We just want to dance here, someone stole the stage
(Here, she means that the place they used to be themselves at, is no longer there. The people, the stage, it’s all gone. Its a heart wrenching lyric about how painful changing times can be)
They call us irresponsible, write us off the page
(Because they still adhere to their lifestyle from the 60s, they are called irresponsible and ignored by those who changed)

Marconi plays the mambo, listen to the radio
Don’t you remember?
We built this city
We built this city on rock and roll

We built this city
We built this city on rock and roll
Built this city
We built this city on rock and roll
(It’s a catchy little diddy. .)

It’s just another Sunday
In a tired old street
Police have got the choke hold, oh
Then we just lost the beat
(Sunday is full of church goers and laziness. Your last day off before being a slave to the grind for five days straight. Here they mean that they are no longer allowed to speak out, or protest, because the cops will stifle them. It also alludes to most people using Sunday as a day of rest. Those who do, dare not use that day off to go protest change somewhere. Even if they did, the cops shut them down. Not that people would listen anyways)

Who counts the money underneath the bar?
Who rides the wrecking ball into our guitars?
(They are alluding to the idea that selling out, and money force bad change onto musicians. Like Jefferson Starship.)
Don’t tell us you need us ’cause we’re the ship of fools
Looking for America, coming through your schools
(This means, whether you like it or not, no matter how much you try to shelter or influence your child to be like you, musicians that you don’t like, with their ideas you hate, will find a way into your child’s mind. You cannot force your child to be just like you.)

(Here was a radio clip where some guy was looking over the golden gate bridge on a sunny Saturday. I’ll ignore it. It serves no point.)

The rest of the song is repetition of the chorus. So I’ll leave that out since it’s been discussed.
Now, take a close look at those lyrics. This song is about never forgetting your roots. This song is about not being a corporate slave. This song is telling you to let your children be who they want to be!
Bet you never thought of it that way before!
Man, this song is deep!!


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