Five Obscure Classic Hits Lyrics Explained

Have you ever listened to song and come across a strange reference in the lyrics and are just left scratching your head as to what it means?

It’s not a new practice for songwriters to make obscure references in their music, or for some even take artistic license and make up a whole new word entirely. But finally, the savvy folks of Mental Floss have cracked the meaning behind some of classic rock’s most obscure references in songs, and we think this is important information to share with the rest of the world so we’re no longer left wondering what a “Scaramouche” is.

1. “Bohemian Rhapsody” Queen

Lyric: “Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the fandango?”

Meaning : In this most famous “pocket symphony,” Queen makes several strange references throughout the song, but the most confusing might be the word Scaramouche.  A Scaramouche is a traditional clown character featured in Italian commedia dell’arte.

2. “Surfin’ USA” Beach Boys

Lyric: “You’d see ’em wearin’ their baggies, Huarache sandals, too”

Meaning: The term ‘baggies’ is a referenced to the boxer-style swimsuits that surfers preferred to use while hanging ten instead of the traditional speedo. As for Huarache sandals, you’ve most likely seen them or even worn these woven-type sandals that almost resemble a closed toe shoe before.

3. “The Joker” Steve Miller Band

Lyric: “Some people call me Maurice, ‘cause I speak of the pompatus of love.”

Meaning: Tried to look up the meaning of pompatus, but didn’t come up with anything? That’s because Miller made the word up after being inspired by a line in 50s do-wop group The Medallions song “The Letter.” One lyric reads “let me whisper sweet words of pizmotality and discuss the puppetutes of love.” Miller later change ‘puppetutes’ to ‘pompatus’ in his famous song.

4. “Land Down Under” Men At Work

Lyric: “Where beer does flow and men chunder”

Meaning: Hailing from Australia, Men At Work’s famous Aussie-ode was littered with their native land’s slang, but it didn’t quite translate in America. The reference to ‘chunder’ is the Aussie way of describing having a few too many drinks that leads to a night by the toilet.

5. “Hotel California” The Eagles

Lyric: “Warm smell of colitas rising up through the air”

Meaning: The group’s then Mexican-American road manager translated the term ‘colitas’ as meaning “little buds” or more commonly known as the Spanish slang for marijuana.

To see even more obscure song lyrics explained, head to to see the full list!

More from Britt Bickel

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