As many of you probably already know, Alabama publisher NewSouth Inc. plans to release censored versions of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, replacing the words "nigger" and "Injun" with "slave" and "Indian," respectively.
That's a good start, but there's still a lot of offensive material out there, especially in the world of music. We bet that if we really tried, we could take the teeth out of many wild, troublesome songs and in doing so, remove their impact entirely. Quarrelsome music causes unrest of the innards; we'd much rather listen to stuff that's more middle-of-the-road and forgettable.
Censoring the following artists still won't make them as harmless as the songs of those nice fellows Neil Diamond and Barry Manilow, but it will help.
5. John Lennon, "Working Class Hero"
"A working class hero is something to be" proclaims John Lennon in this song, but it just doesn't sound like he means it at all. He describes in painful detail a growing-up experience full of oppression, difficulty and sadness. Hey, lighten up, John!
Okay, so maybe you were bullied at school, but weren't there also some good days? Maybe some really nice days out on the fields at recess, or perhaps a smooch from his first puppy love? And don't even get us started on the expletives. This must have been one of the first mainstream songs to feature the dreaded f-bomb, and it does so twice.
Was that really necessary? If Lennon could have just cheered the lyrics up a little, he probably would have realized that the profanity was no longer necessary.
A real "the glass is half empty" kind of song.
4. Dr. Dre, "The Day the Niggaz Took Over"
First of all, Dr. Dre - if you're even a real doctor - could you please tell us how the use of the "az" as opposed to "er" somehow makes the n-bomb okay? And that's just the start of the profanity sprinkled liberally throughout this song; not only are there several more n-bombs, but also several s-bombs, b-bombs, both kinds of c-bomb, a cluster of mf-bombs, an i-bomb, and even a w-bomb.
Aside from the atrocious language, the violence depicted in this song is truly deplorable. The LA riots of 1992 are referenced repeatedly. Couldn't Dr. Dre have picked a more positive subject to rap about?
The racial tension at the time of this song's release (mere months after the rioting in question) hardly needed a song like this to exacerbate the situation. It's almost like Dr. Dre and his friends wanted to incite others to resist oppression and stand up for themselves! People get hurt doing that!
3. Green Day, "Longview"
We're told Green Day's name is a reference to marijuana, which is not at all surprising, considering the subject matter of this highly objectionable song. First, it's of course loaded with obscenities, but we've already complained about swearing so much that even we're starting to not give a hoot. (We almost just wrote the f-word, but decided that would be a joke in very poor taste indeed.)
The song describes a lazy layabout who can only sit around his house watching the television, smoking the reefpots, and committing the Sin That Dare Not Speak Its Name. No, not that one. No, it's... okay, if you're under 25, please don't read the next sentence.
He talks about masturbating. Constantly!
He's been doing it so much that it's now lost its appeal. Why such a poor attitude? Sure, we know Green Day were supposed to be punk rock at the time, but aren't there plenty of punk rock bands with positive outlooks? Why can't the song's protagonist think of something constructive to do like paint a nice picture or - here's a thought - volunteer at a homeless shelter?
No wonder he's watching the phone but no one's calling - this guy is a major downer!
2. Nine Inch Nails - "Closer"
We understand that Nine Inch Nails - whose name refers to the length of the nails driven into our Lord's hands upon the cross - reached the height of their popularity at a time when many Christian bands were attempting to cross over into mainstream audiences, but that's no excuse for the images conveyed in this song and the language used to convey them.
"You let me violate you," the song starts off with, and only gets more brazenly sexual from there. We appreciate Mr. Reznor referring to his Christian roots by stating "You get me closer to God." Indeed, the love between people has always partially reflected the love the Lord has for all his children.
But to emphasize the human, sexual side of love by repeating over and over "I want to f*** you like an animal," that's just grossly inappropriate. The love a husband (man) and wife (woman) share for each other should be a private thing, hidden away from the rest of the world.
Instead of trying to court secular audiences with sex and swears, Reznor should have gone with the more accurate and wholesome lyric, "I want to love you like the Lord above." Isn't that so much better? We just thought of that, just now!
Mr. Reznor should also be more careful about who he commissions to film his music videos; this one was dark and scary and frankly, not very Christian.
1. Igor Stravinsky, Rite of Spring
A classic of classical music, you say? Perhaps to the uneducated. But did you know that the night Stravinsky's ballet premiered there were riots in the concert hall? Really!
So disturbing were the pagan rituals depicted onstage that the audience divided into two camps - dissenters and supporters - and began physically fighting with one another. Listen to the piece, and you can see why. It's filled with fiery percussion, dark, menacing strings, and even a bassoon solo, all of which serve the purpose of angrying up the blood.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
If Stravinsky could have only added some slower sections aided by lighter instrumentation like chimes and bells, he may not have had such a conflagration on his hands. And did the ballet onstage really need to depict pagan rituals? Whatever happened to a nice, simple dance for dancing's sake?
Then people could have enjoyed a nice night out at the theater and then gone home and forgotten about it. Instead, if you listen to Rites of Spring even today, you may find yourself moved and stirred by its relentless pacing and pounding drums.
It's really disgusting.