I hate it when I hear censored songs on the radio. I understand that many people are offended by words (as if they have never heard the children’s rhyme ‘sticks and stones, etc’), but there is nothing wrong with songs the way the artists intended them other than all that profane misogyny in rap and rock lyrics, and talk of icing/capping/killing ‘niggas’ and whatnot. But honestly, I hate censorship in all forms and for me, censored music is simply a violation of our Freedom of Speech, which we truly do not seem to have. Even the classic rock station in my area, which never used to censor music, has gone the way of the pop music and hip hop stations, and that’s damn sad.
Take Dire Straits’ ‘Money For Nothing’ for example. There’s a line that goes “that little faggot’s got his own jet airplane, that little faggot is a millionaire.” The word faggot has been electronically altered so that you hear a little whirring sound rather than the word itself. With ‘Janie’s Got a Gun’, you usually hear “She had to take him down easy and left him in the pouring rain” rather than “and put a bullet in his brain”. And Steve Miller Band’s ‘Jet Airliner’ will substitute “Funky shit going down in the city” with “funky kicks” or “funky stuff”. People say ‘shit’ all the time so what the hell?
Researching this issue, which apparently is more common in the puritanical US of A than Europe, for instance, I learned that there is a Michael Jackson song called ‘They Don’t Care About Us’ with the lines “Jew me, sue me, everybody do me/Kick me, kike me, don’t you black or white me.” Radio edit: “Do me, sue me, everybody do me/Kick me, strike me, don’t you black or white me.” Then there’s ‘The Devil Went Down To Georgia’ by The Charlie Daniels Band. Original lines – “I told you once, you son-of-a-bitch, I’m the best there ever been.” vs. the radio version – “I told you once, you son-of-a-gun, I’m the best there ever been.” Whitesnake’s ‘Here I Go Again’ changed ‘hobo’ to ‘drifter’ and I’m trying to figure out why!
‘God Only Knows’ by The Beach Boys was banned for a time because of the word ‘God’. People were incensed that the name of the deity was used in a pop song. I’m sure all those living in the Bible Belt were in a tizzy, much as they were when John Lennon proclaimed the Beatles to be ‘more popular than Jesus’! The Kingsmen’s ‘Louie, Louie’ had obscene lyrics that the band tried to hide from FBI investigators – yes, the FBI! – by slurring the words during performances. Apparently, according to the drummer himself, he dropped a drumstick during the recording and yelled “Fuck!”. And Olivia Newton-John’s ‘Physical’ contained the sexually suggestive line “There’s nothing left to talk about unless it’s horizontally” while the video itself had a gay couple walking along holding hands and ignoring Olivia. Both were censored or even banned.
Madonna has always been controversial, and her song and video ‘Like A Prayer’ is one of the most newsworthy ever, having fallen under the ire of The American Family Association, The Vatican, Italy and Egypt, as well as the singer being a restricted artist in Russia of all places. Her interracial kiss certainly sparked controversy as well, but I found the entire album to be one of Madonna’s best. The Beatles aren’t even safe from censorship. ‘I Am The Walrus’ was banned and ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ has been condemned as well, for its alleged references to LSD. Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band was disputed (it is one of my faves from the band) but then, the so-called The White Album, which became synonymous with Charles Manson’s cult family and their ‘Helter Skelter’ murder rampage, also was rather contentious.
Body Count’s ‘Cop Killer’ and Rage Against The Machine’s ‘Killing In The Name’ are both rock songs that speak out against police brutality. While the former was far more controversial, the latter also was due to the profanity (which was heavily edited on radio) and the inferences to cops being members of the Klan (a lot of them were and a lot of them probably still are). I have heard these two songs on my app radios, Jango & Accuradio. Sometimes they are censored but mostly, they aren’t. If people are so damn offended by words, they shouldn’t listen to these songs. Go buy some Pat Boone records or better yet, listen to classical or other instrumental music. Then you won’t have to worry about hearing words in music that you probably hear every damn day in your own home. It doesn’t have to come from your mouth or your family members’, you can hear it on TV shows and movies and even the news these days.