On the Roman Evening page of Bitter Stag Records' Web site, the company's mascot, Buck (a stag who is bitter, perhaps because he's missing his left ear) is presumed to vent about what he hates about music critics: Namely, that they can get through an entire review without mentioning any lyrics from the record they're criticizing. This rant then devolves into a general pasting of popular music and is not especially coherent, but then, what do you want out of a one-eared, stuffed deer. The upshot of the rant is that Buck insists that the bands his company markets should be able to explain their lyrics. What then follows is a track by track take of what each song in Together Now is all about — what the lyrics mean, the story behind them, so on and so forth.
This is a rookie error in my book, since it ignores one of the most crucial dynamics of the music listening experience. Like any artistic thing, an album isn't just about what the artist puts into it, it's also about what the audience takes out of it. Putting out anything creative for public consideration means that the creator has to let go of the idea of what the work "means" since those who consider it will happily heap their own meanings upon it.
The degree to which the artist and the audience's decisions on what the work means diverge depends a lot on the work itself, of course. It's a lot easier to peg the meaning of "Whoops... I Did it Again" than Dali's Persistence of Memory, even though Dali tips his hand with the title itself (bear in mind that I recognize that as "artists," the relationship between Dali and Britney (or, more to the point, her songwriters) is akin to the taxonomical relationship between Dali and a sea squirt: They're both chordates, and that's about it). The point here is that much good art, and in this case good music, will intentionally leave space for listeners to pour themselves into. For music like that, nailing the meanings down won't define it, it'll kill it.
This is why I'm explicitly not linking to the Roman Evening page of the Bitter Stag Records Web site: I think that Together Now is more than good enough to leave the ambiguities well alone (Sure, I'll tell you what I think the lyrics are about. But that's different). I think this album is tremendous in several places, in fact; a messy, dissolute record that pulls off the stunt of being musically emotionally open while lyrically open to interpretation. The album is like a sad smile from a distant acquaintance: You know enough to know the guy is hurting, but you don't know enough to know just why that is.