Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Who took the drugs out of rock n roll?

So there's this channel on cable that our entire family enjoys watching together - Palladia. If you aren't familiar with it, it is an HD channel of concert performances and they show some really cool stuff. Remember when MTV actually showed music? Well, this channel, 1840, continues to play musical performances and we've been lucky enough to catch the completely over the top The Song Remains the Same, DMB live at Piedmont Park (epic!), as well as various festivals around the world, like the Isle of Wight Festival and Austin City Limits.

Last night I caught a little of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers on an episode of Storytellers. Now, Tom Petty and I have history. My very first arena show in 1981 (!) was TP and the Heartbreakers at the Brendan Byrne Arena, which incidentally is no longer called the Brendan Byrne Arena. On a side note, which do you think is worse - never having an arena named after you, or having an arena named after you and then having the name changed by some corporate sponsor?? Anyway, like I was saying, TP holds a special place in my heart (hello, Glenn Martin!) and I've seen him a number of times. I've always enjoyed watching him perform because he puts on a terrific show filled with enthusiasm and laid back charm, but something happened last night that really disturbed me.

There they were on a hip oriental rug-covered stage, playing their instruments and singing one of their classics - "You Don't Know How it Feels, " when there was a blur in the lyric. Instead of hearing "but let me get to the point, let's roll another joint," I heard "...let's roll another gobbley-gook." Really?? Saying the word "joint" is somehow censorable, but Peter Griffin is free to say: "By the way Lois, I got a piercing over there. I'm not going to tell you where but I will give you a hint--it wasn't on my nose or my ear and it was one of my balls." Really??

Somehow it is acceptable for a character on How I Met Your Mother to say: "Lebanese girls are the new half-Asians, " but merely saying the word JOINT is forbidden? Who makes these decisions? Why is it acceptable to talk about testicles during prime time, on a national network, but not use the "J" word? What makes the word joint so threatening or controversial? Aren't musicians considered to be artists? Why are their works of art, i.e. their songs, being tampered with? I remember, back in the day, listening to commercial radio and realizing that words such as "goddamn," "funky shit," and "son of a bitch" had all be sanitized from songs I grew up listening to. Songs that I had simply enjoyed. Not songs that I looked to add words to my vocabulary or songs that I expected to teach me new ways of being deviant, because, of course, I had real life friends for those purposes. So, Palladia, it really isn't necessary for you to take the drugs out of rock n roll for my protection. Believe me, I can handle it.

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