A funny story:
Many years ago, early 80s, I was doing some housework at home with the radio on. A song came on by a local Australian woman, Deborah Conway. The lyrics included lines about 'penis envy' and 'pubic hairs on my pillow'. Now, I'm no prude, but I do love music and the art of songwriting, and this tune got me all riled up. I decided I'd do something I never had done, or have done since: I called the radio station, Triple M-FM. I asked to speak to the announcer and was put on hold. After a few minutes the announcer got on the line and asked me what I was calling about.
"That song you just played" I told him.
"What about that song?"
"It's an awful tune, it's a disgrace to all songwriters trying to get ahead in this business. Why on earth is it on your playlist?"
"Oh wow, I'm not sure I understand. What's wrong with the song"?
"What's wrong with it? The lyrics. They don't belong in any song, I have kids and I really don't want them to hear this kind of crap". I was righteous and I was indignant.
"Well" he went on "I really don't see what you're talking about. Ventura Highway was a huge hit."
I had called the wrong station! I was listening to 2 Day FM, not Triple M.
I apologised and hung up. I didn't call 2 Day.
My position on this changed when it became clear that YouTube must have struck some sort of wide ranging deal with publishers so that they could allow videos of others' works to be posted on their site. As long as it's YouTube's servers that are streaming the content, I'm fine with people posting videos of covers.
All my lessons are embedded from YouTube now. Every once in a while I load something up there (a cover) and I get a notice from YouTube alerting me that the content is copyright. But they then go on to tell me not to worry about it, that they will place ads on that content and the copyright holder will share in the revenue. I guess that's how they get around it, through advertising. So, if you want to post something that's not your original work, load it up at YouTube first, then link it from there.
Have you never been intoxicated by the magic of a balmy [days are longer] summer night? Either from the actual moon, or from alcohol? That is the feeling/memory that those lines have for me. In general, I'm happy with lyrics that suggest situations or emotions rather than just spelling them out.
For me, that suggestive sort of lyric allows space for every listener to have their own individual memory, or emotional interpretation/reaction to the lyrics. That allows each listener to draw on their own individual memories and history and makes them able to relate to the song, to like it, ...and then buy it.
Apart from the obvious conversation between the singer and Joe [who may be the singer's son wanting to leave home], for me, the lyrics of Ventura Highway are all about trying to remind Joe of all the good things Joe will miss if he moves away. Those things are everything that the singer loves about where they currently live. The music itself has the excitement of a 70's adventure/traveling/wind in your hair/young and carefree/west coast song and harmony which was so popular then with the young generation with their new found freedoms. So the music matches the lyrics [or vice versa] which is a good thing in songwriting.
Really? "Where the days are longer, the nights are stronger than moonshine?" Even if you consider "moonshine" as illegal liquor, those lyrics still make no sense to me.
But you can give America credit for the first use of the term "purple rain." Despite Prince's appropriation of the term, I still have no idea what "purple rain" is.
Don't get me wrong: America's harmony and (to me) interesting chord expressions make their music listenable and playable. I just don't find the meaning of life in their lyrics, which I think are mostly doggerel.