I have McArthur Park by Richard Harris playing in the background as I write. I don't know why, I don't particularly like it and I have no idea what it's about but it is pleasant. When I was a teenager and into my early twenties I placed great store on music and especially the lyrics, I don't know why but I saw them as short philosophical statements. Perhaps they were, however looking from here and listening to some of my old favourites it seems more likely that most of them were chosen for the rhyme and have no more meaning than do wah diddy. There were some songwriters who tried so transmit a message, however most of those were of a political nature rather than reflecting on love and life in general.
Thinking about those writers of political songs it seems that the successful ones were those that made the lyrics fit a good tune rather than the other way round. I am sure some of you must have attended political rallies where some unwashed would be musician was given an opportunity to present his/her talents to a semi captive audience. The result was usually a rush for the nearest pub, and was far more effective for dispersing a crowd than the police could ever be. Generally the theme was one that alienated the bulk of those present combined with catchiness of the Fremantle Football Club song.
Though I disagree with much of (though not all) of Peter Garretts political views, I find Midnight Oils music great and it does get me thinking about the issues (sometimes) but generally it is great music. If they had concentrated primarily on the message rather than the music, they would have achieved little and the world would be poorer for it.