Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Songs That Confused Me When I Was a Kid

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I normally avoid discussing sensitive topics like religion online, but I must bring it up today due to the sort of childhood I had.

A closeup photo of a mic in a mic stand on a stage. The lights from the upper portion of the stage make it impossible to see anything in the distance. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I was a preacher’s kid and was homeschooled for the first several years of elementary school.  The combination of these two things meant that I knew very little about secular pop culture until I was about eleven or twelve and my parents began gradually relaxing their rules about music, tv shows, and films.

(They were less strict about books for some reason, but even there I mostly read the classics, Bible stories, the Inspirational genre, and fairy tales until I was old enough to go to the library with less adult supervision and, ahem, bend the rules just a little bit by borrowing children’s ghost stories and Choose Your Own Adventure books. 😉 )

Therefore, I suspect that my first two answers might not be familiar to some of you. I mixed it up as much as possible and included secular music, too, to increase the odds of someone knowing at least one of my answers!

Apple Red Happiness

Apple Red Happiness is a kids’ worship song about the Fruits of the Spirit, which are a list of virtues from the New Testament. They include love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. 

What confused me about this song were all of the food references that had nothing at all to do with the topic at hand. What on Earth did food have to do with being kind or peaceful? I couldn’t figure it out, so I was always left feeling puzzled and a little hungry during this song.


I’m in the Lord’s Army 

I’m in the Lord’s Army is a kids’ worship song about committing to being in service of God that uses a lot of militaristic imagery to get its point across.

There were motions we were supposed to act out at specific portions of the song. For example, we’d pretend to pull the string back on a bow and shoot an arrow every time we heard the world artillery or pretend to hold a bridle and gallop like a horse every time we heard cavalry.

Given the large number of pacifist German Mennonite relatives I had, this song also utterly confused me. When I learned what metaphors were, I concluded that this was a metaphor….well, at least until I learned about the Crusades and other holy wars when I grew older. Then it was back to permanent confusion.

As protective as my parents were, though, some secular music did seep through.


Kissed By a Rose

I believe I heard Seal’s Kissed By a Rose on a radio that was playing in a store somewhere when I was a kid.

It sounded a little medieval to me and was nothing like I’d heard before. I loved it!. For several years I assumed that this song was hundreds of years old and had only recently been rediscovered and recorded for a new generation.


Stop! In the Name of Love 

One of my elementary school classmates would randomly sing Stop! In the Name of Love by The Supremes when we were at recess. (Or maybe some other artist did a cover of that song that I wasn’t aware of?)

I had never heard of this group before and had zero cultural context to understand what I was supposed to stop doing, what love had to do with it, or what other rules love might compel someone to follow in order to avoid breaking anyone’s heart. None of it made sense, and for many years I assumed that kid simply enjoyed making up silly things to sing that weren’t supposed to make any sense.

It also didn’t help that he only sang those five words over and over again and only occasionally included the next five (“before you break my heart”).  Maybe he didn’t know the rest of the lyrics and was secretly just as confused as I was?


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14 Responses to Wednesday Weekly Blogging Challenge: Songs That Confused Me When I Was a Kid

  1. There are so many religious songs from my childhood that were confusing and ‘Kissed by a Rose’ still confuses me if I’m honest.

  2. I mean, Kissed by a Rose… I’ve read through the lyrics on that thing and I am absolutely convinced that Seal was playing with his own very personal and idiosyncratic metaphor when he was writing those lyrics. The part where it ended up on the soundtrack for one of the Batman movies and so the video features a lot of Batman punching people does not help AT ALL. The song is just straight-up confusing, even when you’re reading the lyrics.

    You’re right that I don’t recognize either of those worship songs; the closest I can remember is some campfire songs from church camp. (“Father Abraham, he had seven sons…”)

    • Heh, that is very possible. The fact that it was on the Batman soundtrack didn’t help the matter either.

      I liked Father Abraham when I was little. Haven’t thought about that one in ages. 🙂

  3. Ah, I remember “I’m in the Lord’s Army”. That, and Father Abraham, and “He’s Still Working on Me”, which is the only kids’ gospel hymn I know that referenced astronomy. The version of Father Abraham we sang was “Had many sons”, not seven, though. Lots of physical movement as I remember.

    I’m sure there are a lot of songs whose lyrics confused me, or went over my head at the time. Heck, that still happens. I shared a picture of a cloud shaped like Africa and posted lyrics from Toto’s “Africa”, and someone said “Oh, the werewolf song”. I went and looked at the lyrics, and….well, yeah, I can definitely see that now.

  4. Good ones.

    “Stop in the Name of Love” was one of many where I didn’t understand enough of the words even to spin off an amusing alternative wording. I heard “Stop! In the name of love! People, you break my heart…la la la, blah blah blah…” I don’t think I was even a child, either. I *still* hear a lot of songs as one line that’s sung loudly and clearly in the middle of a lot of “la la la, blah blah blah.”

    • Thanks, Priscilla! Yeah, that would be an easy way to mishear Stop in the Name of Love.

      I think some modern artists mumble more, too, which also doesn’t help.

  5. That first one is now reminding me of having to sing “Johnny Appleseed” before meals when I was on Brownie Pack Holiday. Despite having “the Lord” in it, it never felt like a very religious song to me.

  6. Now I’m going to have to go listen to Kissed by a Rose — I’ve never heard it. The military Christian songs, metaphorical or not, always sat wrong with me, if not confused me. Prince of Peace and all that.

  7. Think I’ve said this before but as a teenager, whose twin passions were alcohol and the fair sex, I always loved the lyric ‘I’m on the wine I’m after you’.

    Until I learned that those aren’t the words 🙁

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