Top-40 hit lyrics of the past that would not be acceptable today

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Panther, Dec 12, 2019.

  1. Panther

    Panther Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Tokyo, Japan
    There are probably thousands of such examples from less sensitive times of the past. Not necessarily "bad" lyrics -- they might even be very clever, literary, or well-written --, but lyrics that just wouldn't fly in today's more "politically-correct" and diverse-identity inclusive times. I was listening to Sam Cooke's classic "Another Saturday Night" the other day when this lyric make me smile:

    Another fella told me he had a sister who looked just fine.
    Instead of being my deliverance, she had a strange resemblance
    to a cat named Frankenstein.

    It's nothing terrible, but I just don't see pop radio playing a song with lyrics like that nowadays.

    A more egregious one that many will think of this humdinger, first recorded by Jimmy Soul (song is "If You Wanna Be Happy"):

    If you wanna be happy for the rest of your life,
    never make a pretty woman your wife.
    So, for my personal point of view,
    Get an ugly girl to marry you.

    Even in the early/mid-1970s, Paul Anka's "(You're) Having My Baby" was considered too sexist and he was pushed to sometimes alter the lyrics to "(You're) Having Our Baby" in future performances, after the record hit. But even then, the lyric is pretty tasteless, and I do not see this passing the censors nowadays:

    Didn't have to keep it;
    Wouldn't put you through it.
    You could have swept it from your life,
    but you wouldn't do it.


    What else ya got?

    (A reminder: This thread is for lyrics from songs that were already relatively big, mainstream top-40 pop hits in the past -- not for songs that received scant or little radio-play.)

  2. anduandi

    anduandi Forum Resident

    Clair by Gilbert 'O Sullivan...
    "To me you're more than a child".....
    fer2 and tug_of_war like this.
  3. blair207

    blair207 Forum Resident

    Fife, Scotland
    Money for Nothing. Dire Straits
  4. guitarman1969

    guitarman1969 Forum Resident

    London, UK
    Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen by Neil Sedaka. The whole song is about an older guy who’s been waiting for a girl to reach the age of consent...ever since she was a small child.

    Little Child by The Beatles
    Again, we have an older guy trying to entice a child to spend time with him.

    Shame and Scandal in the Family by Lance Percival
    Lance was a British comedian from the 1960s so apologies to our US friends who might not have heard of him. This song was never off the radio in the 70s. The basic premise is that Trinidadians are sexually incontinent and may even be interbreeding.
    tug_of_war likes this.
  5. Chrisaw

    Chrisaw Well-Known Member

    Gary Puckett & The Union Gap - Young Girl
    "You better run girl, you're much too young girl"

    Ringo - You're Sixteen
    CrazyCatz, tug_of_war and DavidD like this.
  6. vinylontubes

    vinylontubes Forum Resident

    Katy, TX
    There is a dichotomy in lyrics today. For some reason you still get away with a lot of stuff in Hip-Hop that you can't get away with in other musical genres.
    pantofis, DeRosa, ispace and 31 others like this.
  7. MrEWhite

    MrEWhite Forum Resident

    United States
    Was coming here to say this. No way in hell this would pass in the modern day.
  8. Eleventh Earl of Mar

    Eleventh Earl of Mar Somehow got them all this far.

    New York
    And yet it's still uncensored today for the most part. The context makes sense but regardless... I'm still a bit iffy about that one, that part was probably hard to overlook at the time for a lot of people I'd think. The problem I have is more of how powerful that word actually is which I don't think had a lot of thought put into it.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2019
  9. bob_32_116

    bob_32_116 Forum Resident

    Perth Australia
    As a gay man, I found "Les Boys" far more offensive than "Money For Nothing", which, as should be obvious to anyone who actually listens to the lyrics, is quoting the kind of things that people from a certain socio-economic background might typically say. If anyone should be offended at all, it would be furniture removalists.

    Funny, I don't remember the latter-day censors of the song actually asking the gay community for their input, nor do I recall being told by any other gay person that they felt offended by it. Something I do find offensive, however, is other people telling me what I should be offended by.
  10. Celebrated Summer

    Celebrated Summer Forum Resident

    Mungo Jerry's "In The Summertime:"

    "Have a drink, have a drive, go out and see what you can find." I'm sure anyone involved with Mothers Against Drunk Driving cringes when that comes on oldies radio.
    Chemguy, lc1995, phillyal1 and 13 others like this.
  11. Eleventh Earl of Mar

    Eleventh Earl of Mar Somehow got them all this far.

    New York
    Not sure what the last part is about.

    And yeah, like I said - the context works, I simply think it's a pretty damning word then and now. I like both genders myself, if that helps.
  12. bob_32_116

    bob_32_116 Forum Resident

    Perth Australia
    Not just mothers. Anyone who actually listens to the daily news, and thinks about what they hear, should cringe.

    I have a similar reaction to "Six Days On the Road" by Dave Dudley. The truckie is proudly boasting about the fact that he breaks the speed limit when he can get away with it, takes pills (not ones sold legally I'll wager) to stop himself from falling asleep at the wheel, falsifies his log book, and is carrying more in the truck than is supposed to be permitted by safety regulations. And for good measure, he admits to polluting the atmosphere with careless abandon.
  13. vzok

    vzok Forum Resident

    She was just 17, you know what I mean?
    pantofis, DTK, fluffskul and 16 others like this.
  14. Bobby Morrow

    Bobby Morrow Forum Resident

    Melting Pot by Blue Mink!
    scousette and OobuJoobu like this.
  15. bob_32_116

    bob_32_116 Forum Resident

    Perth Australia
    What's wrong with that? I mean, sure there is sexual innuendo there, but that's hardly grounds for censorship. 17 is over the age of consent in most countries.
  16. Joy-of-radio

    Joy-of-radio Forum Resident

    'Fire' Bruce Springsteen

    "You say you don't like it
    But girl I know you're a liar
    Cause when we kiss
    Ooooh, Fire"

    Sounds kinda rapey to me, so why isn't ME TOO bitching about that?
  17. GubGub

    GubGub Forum Resident

    Ironically Mark Knopfler is from the north east of England where that word primarily refers to a sort of meatball served in a thick gravy. I doubt that he was referring to them but the other usage is still not common in the UK.

    ****** (food) - Wikipedia
    Scribbled_Lines and enfield like this.
  18. katieinthecoconut

    katieinthecoconut Forum Resident

    United Kingdom
    The lyrics to Blurred Lines, which was clearly a crossover moment in pop music, weren't acceptable about two weeks after the song was released. (It took a little time for people to sit up and take issue...)

    The song When I Kissed the Teacher by ABBA sounds particularly bad now. Does Your Mother Know isn't much better, I guess.

    Save Your Kisses for Me by Brotherhood of Man.
    Chemguy and ralph7109 like this.
  19. bob_32_116

    bob_32_116 Forum Resident

    Perth Australia
    Probably because they're busy concerning themselves with more recent songs, such as "Blurred Lines", whose lyrics I DO find disturbing.

    Edit: I see two of us thought of "Blurred Lines" at the same time. :)
  20. dvakman

    dvakman stalking the dread moray eel

    New Orleans
    "I'm Refusing to Acknowledge Your Identity" by Corey Hart
  21. Jmac1979

    Jmac1979 Forum Resident

    Louisville, KY
    I haven't heard the second verse on the radio in ages. Oddly though I'm a gay man and while I'm not a fan of the said word, the context in the song never really offended me and if radio has excised the verse to not offend me, why bother? It's part of the song just like how loosely it was thrown around in eighties cinema in a way it can't fly today
  22. Celebrated Summer

    Celebrated Summer Forum Resident

    If we're going to take the lyric of the Fabs' "Little Child" literally (meaning he's singing about an actual child), then we have to do the same with Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine." Which means Axl was not only singing about a child, but an incestuous relation with one...since a literal reading of the title means it was his child.

    In all seriousness, when discussing this stuff we have to take into account colloquialisms. "Child" was being used as an expression in these songs, not an exact description. The G N' R one was supposedly inspired by Erin Everly, who was around 23 years old when it came out. Definitely not a child.

    If we keep this up it's going to get to the point where someone will hear Joan Baez sing "Daddy, You've Been On My Mind" and run out the room screaming "OMG! Incest with her father!" Or they'll hear the final verse of "Norwegian Wood" and think Lennon was trying to seduce an actual bird ("OMG! It's Beatles Bestiality!!").

    (PS: "Little Child" was not a Top 40 hit or even a single, so I don't know why it was brought up at all.)
  23. guitarman1969

    guitarman1969 Forum Resident

    London, UK
    Mea culpa
  24. blair207

    blair207 Forum Resident

    Fife, Scotland
    Interesting to hear some of the thoughts on Money for Nothing since I posted it. I’ve always been aware it’s not anti gay but I’ve always been of the opinion that F word is as offensive as the N word.
  25. MrEWhite

    MrEWhite Forum Resident

    United States
    I don’t see why one would be offended by Les Boys, as it’s based off something Mark Knopfler actually saw while on a tour after a show in Germany.
    DTK, Fullbug, john lennonist and 3 others like this.

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