In Buffalo Springfield's 1966 protest song For What It's Worth, there is one line that carries two possible meanings. When speaking about protesters carrying signs, it reports that they

Mostly Say "Hurray for Our Side"

For a long time, I misunderstood the meaning of this line. Since "For What Its Worth" is a stock song used in montage scenes of protests, I always assumed it was about The Vietnam War, and that the line about "Hurray for Our Side" was pointing out that there were many people who still supported the war, and that there would have been pro-war protesters. I don't know if that was a historically accurate picture (while the majority of people supported the war in 1966, most of them were not protesting in favor of the war).

But this is where some historical context comes in: while I didn't know it while listening to this song on my one-speaker radio/tape deck in 1992: this song was actually written about a somewhat less weighty topic: protests and riots against a local curfew and noise ordinance in Los Angeles on the Sunset Strip. In that context, the line is just saying that most protest signs can be simplified down to supporting their own position. Which is itself a witty observation.

The different interpretations of the line come from knowing a little bit of history (this was in the 1960s) and then knowing a lot of history (this was about a specific incident), and the problem with that is, we might get more information as time goes on, leading to more interpretations. Like many great protest songs, it has endured due to being somewhat vague, since the original issue it addressed has now gone by.

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