Censorship of Music

Censorship of Music

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Censorship of Music

 

Music has always been a basic form of expression. From Antonin Dvorak, to Eminem, to even ancient, tribal music, it has been a medium through which individuals convey their thoughts and expressions. Today this medium is under attack. Everywhere we turn, everything we do and say is being scrutinized. We are being told what to say. We are being spoon-fed our emotions. No longer are we allowed to think freely, openly. All the censors out there are on the prowl for another piece to rip to shreds because it doesn't fit their description of what is decent and moral. What they fail to realize is that we don't make the music for them... We do it for release.

 

      Music has often been the release for some of our most troublesome times. If you are angry or sad, you go home and put in a song that relates to your feelings, making you feel better. I personally, write when I'm not in the best mood. Whether I'm depressed, angry, or whatever, I know that the pen is my one true friend, and the parchment will never tell me lies. Many people fail to see this as therapy. They see it as cursing, vulgarity, etc., just for the hell of it. This is not true in most cases.

 

      On Eric Nuzum's (I know you love him!) website I found some interesting facts. Following the September 11th terrorist attacks, Clear Channel Communications released a list of 150 "lyrically questionable" songs that it was requesting stations remove from their play lists (Nuzum). Some of these songs were: "Highway to Hell" and "Shoot to Thrill" AC/DC, "Jet Airliner" Steve Miller Band, "Fly" Sugar Ray, "Another One Bites the dust" Queen, all songs by Rage Against the Machine, and, to beat all else, "Walk Like an Egyptian" The Bangles. Some of the songs on this list are just ridiculous to the point of hilarity! I'm sure "99 Luft Balloons" is going to start a riot!

 

      Another amusing example was in June 1965, radio stations across the country ban the Rolling Stones "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" because they believe the lyrics are too sexually suggestive.

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Here are the lyrics: I can't get no satisfaction,

 

(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction** 

The Rolling Stones

 

 

 

I can't get no satisfaction.

'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try.

I can't get no, I can't get no.

When I'm drivin' in my car

and that man comes on the radio

and he's tellin' me more and more

about some useless information

supposed to fire my imagination.

I can't get no, oh no no no.

Hey hey hey, that's what I say.

 

I can't get no satisfaction,

I can't get no satisfaction.

'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try.

I can't get no, I can't get no.

 

When I'm watchin' my TV

and that man comes on to tell me

how white my shirts can be.

Well he can't be a man 'cause he doesn't smoke

the same cigarrettes as me.

I can't get no, oh no no no.

Hey hey hey, that's what I say.

 

I can't get no satisfaction,

I can't get no girl with action.

'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try.

I can't get no, I can't get no.

 

When I'm ridin' round the world

and I'm doin' this and I'm signing that

and I'm tryin' to make some girl

who tells me baby better come back later next week

'cause you see I'm on losing streak.

I can't get no, oh no no no.

Hey hey hey, that's what I say.

 

I can't get no, I can't get no,

I can't get no satisfaction,

no satisfaction, no satisfaction, no satisfaction***

 

 

      Now, I'm sure whatever censor looked at this probably mistook "Satisfaction" for sexual pleasure. The fact that Mick Jagger "Cant Get No Satisfaction" means, well, he can't get any. I'm guessing "I try, and I try, and I try" is supposed to be symbolic of masturbation... Maybe I'm reading into this a BIT much... So did the censors.

 

      Another, sadder, incident, is not only censorship, but also boycotting! I went to "Rolling Stone" to find this one (Nuzum makes mention of it too). At a London concert, the Dixie Chicks' Natalie Maines caused quite a stir when she said, "I am ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas," the Chicks' home state. In trying to justify her remark, she said, "I feel that the President is ignoring the opinions of the American people and alienating the rest o the world." Freedom of speech does have a heavy toll. She can say that, but no one will play the Dixie Chicks' records now. Gee... Sounds like a little bit of censorship blackmail to me! Maines, however, finally apologized for the remark. She goes on to say "I apologize to Pres. Bush because my statement was disrespectful. I feel that whoever holds that office deserves the utmost respect. We are currently in Europe and experiencing a huge anti-American sentiment as a result of the perceived rush to war. I love my country. I am a proud American (Decurtis)." You go girl! I feel pretty much the same way she does, however, my job's not in jeopardy because of it.

 

I then strolled to "TIME". The headline of the article reads: "A Senate committee asks: 'Have lyrics gone too far?'" Tipper Gore recites lyrics from a song by W.A.S.P. Not many people have actually heard of the band W.A.S.P. She and some other well-connected women in Washington are trying to change that. They have come together to create the P.M.R.C. (Parents Music Resource Center) and, with the national Parent Teacher Association, they are letting everyone know that rock n' roll has gone too far (Cocks).

 

They subject that it is not only W.A.S.P. who stand accused. Everyone gets to taste Tipper's fury: Judas Priest, Madonna, Twisted Sister, AC/DC, and Sheena Easton (WHO?!). They are also apparently very upset about a girl masturbating with a magazine (Cocks). Would it be any different if it were a guy with a Playboy? The ruckus over rock's excesses flares on historical cue: Elvis' pelvis in the 50's, Beatles and drugs, sex and Stones in the 60's, punk anarchy in the 70's (Cocks). Many of the songs targeted for censure are performed by marginal rock acts or obscure cuts on albums. Increasingly, with Band Aid, Live Aid and Farm Aid, this is a time of social activism for rock, and this storm over ratings breaks at a time when, as Goldberg puts it, "music is getting political again, and some political forces want to put music back in its place." It comes down to a simple matter of history. Rock 'n' roll is proud music that has never known its place, so it will be hard to put it in one now (Cocks). I have always contested that it is the duty of the parents to raise their own children, not the responsibility of the artists. They created PARENTAL Advisory stickers for a reason: so that the PARENTS could filter and know what their children are listening to.

 

Parents and political leaders spend so much time and money debating all of this stupid stuff that they could be using to do some REAL good. It is absolutely ridiculous. Why not help the poor, or feed the hungry, instead of trying to make everyone conform to their standards of living?! Why not focus on their selves? Maybe they would then realize that they play a more important part in their children's problems than music does. My mom was in a bunch of bands when I was little. We were always listening to Metallica, or AC/DC, or Lynard Skynard! I turned out better than a LOT of "good little church boys and girls".  I have my own mind, I know what's right and what's wrong, and I ABSOLUTELY believe it is wrong to heap all of this scrutinization on artists who are doing the same as everyone else: just trying to survive. The senator rides in a cushy limo, so does James Hetfield. But I'll bet James's came from money he EARNED by making and selling his product, not by using tax money that the average Joe (like me) spent hours of working so he could get!

 

      The world is a messed up place, and for those of us who do not lead a life of privilege, it never gets any easier. We fight to stay alive, we strive to find the courage to make it through every day, and we pray that someday, things might get a little easier. We all have our own outlets. For some of us it's music, for other's reading or writing. That release is what gets us through the day, our one sip of pleasure in a teacup full of torment. It is being fought against. It is being ripped apart and made to seem it's something it's not. It is crumbling before us, as we watch with galvanized eyes that shed petroleum tears. We fight because it is the one thing we can call our own, that no one can take away from us. It is our soul through a set of amps, excited by the pluck of a string, the beat of a drum. It is the fire that burns within us. It is music, and it is under attack.

                                                

     Works Cited

 

Cocks, Jay. "Rock Is a Four-Letter Word." TIME Sept. 30, 1985

Dansby, Andrew. "Anti-Chicks Show Planned." Rolling Stone April 1, 2003

Nuzum, Eric. www.ericnuzun.com/parentaladvisory/

http://www.getlyrics.com/

 

 

 
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