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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Nasty '60's?

Most always, it's very hard for the older generation to accept lyrical changes in popular music. In fact, some people blame violent, sexual, drug-laced song lyrics for many ills in society. A study of the history of banned lyrics does provide some interesting insight into this perception of blame.
Since the 1960's have been perceived by many as the height of America's political unrest and careless, Hippy-like freedom of expression, I chose to find some '60's songs and artists that were banned for various reasons. My thanks to Eric Nuzum, author of Harper's Parental Advisory:
Music Censorship in America (2001) for the examples of music and behavior once considered distasteful.
Here is a list from the 1960's:
1960 Radio stations refuse to play Ray Peterson's "Tell Laura I Love Her," calling it the "Death Disk."

1961 The Blazers' surf hit "Beaver Patrol" was banned from California airwaves due to its "indecent" title.

1962 New York Bishop Burke forbids Catholic students from dancing to Chubby Checker's "The Twist."

1963 The FBI begins collecting data on folk singers like Phil Ochs.
1964 Indiana Governor Welsh attempts to ban the Kingsmen "Louie, Louie," but the FCC finds its lyrics indecipherable.
1965 The Barry McGuire song "Eve of Destruction" is pulled from stores and radio because it could promote suicidal feelings amongst teens.
1966 Police attempt to shut down a James Brown concert, alleging his dancing is obscene.
1967 The Ed Sullivan Show requests that Jim Morrison change lyrics to "Light My Fire" to alter "Girl we couldn't get much higher" to a more innocuous phrase.
1968 Sponsors threaten to pull support after a television program shows interracial "touching" in a duet between Petula Clark and Harry Belafonte.
1969 Top refuses to play "The Ballad of John and Yoko" because the lyrics contain references to Christ and crucifixion.
1970 The Movement to Restore Democracy calls for banning of rock music to end the spread of Socialism in America.
These examples of censorship provide some interesting historical perspective. How many, if any, of these samples would be prohibited today? I certainly believe none would. Does this suggest that readers should examine their present stances on popular music? The answer may depend on how many so-called "shocking" behaviors become the norms of a tomorrow fifty years in the future.
Society appeals to change for important advancement. As much as many older people hate to admit that they judge a younger society by dated standards, a certain degree of truth must exist in this view. As people become more tolerant of others and as injustices are exposed, both old and young must agree to alter those things that have hindered positive change.
Music is often at the forefront while driving the initial surge for alteration. To be left in its wake can be a disturbing experience yet a healthy lesson learned. Here's hoping that enough good will emanate to uplift those who may conceive themselves to be drowning in the polluted waters of the music industry.
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