If I Told You Brent Bozell Had a Beautiful Body, Would You Promise Not to Hold It Against Me?

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If you read one pointless take on an irrelevant two-week-old news story this weekend, make it Brent Bozell's "Pop Music's Sex Education." Weep for what Ipod hath wrought:

Music is no small part of youngsters' lives. Adolescents typically listen to 1.5 to 2.5 hours of music per day, and that doesn't include the amount of time they are exposed to music through music videos. The researchers were especially concerned about sexually degrading music like the F-bombs and "ho" lyrics of the rappers.

People who want to make excuses for the music industry also argue that sexual lyrics are nothing new in popular music, from "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones to any number of songs that discuss "making love." But a lot of late 20th century music that played on the radio had a layer or two of euphemism or double entendre. It might have gone over the heads of grade-schoolers riding along in the car.

Oh, that's what "making love" means? This must be why teen pregnancy rates dropped all through the 90's—a decade-long spike in the use of cryptic euphemisms and double entendre.

I don't want to be one of those people who go around making excuses for the music industry and the way it forces small children to consume offensive lyrics at gunpoint. But not long ago, Ipods were being blamed for increased social isolation among adolescents. Shouldn't we greet their Ipod-induced social activity with enthusiasm? Then again, I certainly haven't spent as much time thinking about teen sex as the author of this column.

Now that you know the seed of destruction fits in the palm of your hand, buy an OhMiBod for someone you love.

David Weigel was on the Ipod story when it was "news." Just a few days back, Jacob Sullum hipped us to an ad campaign Brent Bozell could get behind.

NEXT: In Deep Macaca

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  1. You might want to add “NSFW” before that OhMiBod link.

  2. But a lot of late 20th century music that played on the radio had a layer or two of euphemism or double entendre.

    Is there a double entendre in “Whole Lotta Love”? …and is “Back Door Man” really a double entrendre? I mean, “chicken” and “pork and beans” are certainly metaphors, but what is the second meaning of the term “back door man”?

    It might have gone over the heads of grade-schoolers riding along in the car.

    People presumed, back then, that there was an adult driving the car within reach of the off switch. Even today, you can censor what music your children download. …and just like grown-ups of yore, you can always take their ipods away.

  3. Ken:

    back door man (n)
    1. one who cuckolds another man; origin: thought to be in reference to sneaking out the back door upon arrival of the cuckold
    2. one who engages in anal sex

  4. Now that you know the seed of destruction fits in the palm of your hand, buy an OhMiBod for someone you love.

    Oh, thank you for that. I propose we exchange the “Friday Fun Link” (when’s the last time we got one anyway) for Friday Fun with Kitten Kerry.

  5. The thing that’s worse for kids than the sex or violence is this recent trend towards the glorification of victimization. I’m thinking of Eminem in particular. He’s had more than a handful hit songs about how persecuted he is and how he’s not gonna take it and all this crap. This from a guy who makes untold millions for being a music performer. And he’s a victim because some critics slam him? Oh yeah, and his girlfriend cheats on him too and his mom used to abuse him. Wah, wah, wah.

    I was a teen not too long ago so I think I may be more familiar with the recent trends than other people here.

    Here’s a great article from Slate that illustrates this point. http://www.slate.com/id/2066292/

  6. Won’t somebody sqeeze my lemon?

  7. Hey! Brent and his ilk have led me to many new and interesting shows! Thanks Brent!

    Now learn about statistics and causality!

    Blue noses are ruining the Repubs!

  8. I wonder if Mr. B has ever listened to the lyrics for the following:

    “Sixty Minute Man” performed by the Dominoes,in 1954, who became the Drifters later;

    “Love for Sale,” written by Cole Porter in the 1920’s;

    Any one of 5 million cheatin’ songs played on country radio, especially “It wasn’t God who made honky tonk angels,” and “Just walk on by, wait on the corner.”

    I remember listening to the wholesome and family-friendly lyrics to things like “Momma Tried,” “Green Green Grass of Home,” “Two Dollars in the Juke Box,” the aforementioned “Just Walk on By,” “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town,” and many others on my dad’s pickup radio at the farm before I turned 10. I have managed without much of a struggle to grow up without cheating on my husband, becoming a drunk, whore, or felon.

    While none of those songs used cuss words, they didn’t obscure the meaning at all. If I didn’t understand ’em, it’s because I had no idea what adultery or drunkeness was in the first place so I had no referent for the idea in the song. If little kids understand “Baby Got Back” it’s because they live a life which permits them to understand, not because the song explains the concept. (I know the title of exactly two rap songs; that one and “U Can’t Touch This,” so I used the only one I knew.)

    Seriously, I have no love for lyrics that use f-bombs, principally because it takes no skill or talent to produce such dreck. I can cuss, I don’t need any dumbass teenager young enough to be my own son to teach me. The pathologies Mr. B and company worry about won’t disappear if iTunes no longer sells anything with “fuck” in the words. For Mr. B’s crowd, though, attacking lyrics is much, much easier than trying to address all the problems of poverty.

  9. “I don’t want no woman
    wants every downtown man she meets
    I don’t want no woman
    wants every downtown man she meets
    She’s a no good doney
    they shouldn’t allow her on the street”
    –I Believe I’ll dust My Broom, Robert Johnson, circa 1929. Sounds like he’s calling the bitch a ho.

    “And if she gets unruly
    thinks she don’t wan do
    If she gets unruly
    thinks she don’t wan do
    Take my 32-20 now and
    cut her half in two

    She got a 38 special but I believe its much too light
    She got a 38 special but I believe its much too light
    I got a 32-20, got to make the camps alright”
    –32-20 Blues, Robert Johnson, circa 1929. I believe he’s going to shoot the unruly ho with a Colt .32

    “Now you can squeeze my lemon ’til the juice run down my…
    (spoken) ’til the juice rune down my leg, baby, you know what I’m talkin’ about
    You can squeeze my lemon ’til the juice run down my leg
    (spoken) That’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout, now”
    –Traveling Riverside Blues, Robert Johnson, circa 1929. I believe he’s talking about someone flogging his dolphin.

  10. “Bumble bee, bumble bee, please come back to me
    Bumble bee, bumble bee, please come back to me
    He got the best old stinger any bumble bee that I ever seen

    He stung me this morning, I been looking for him all day long
    He stung me this morning, I been looking for him all day long
    Lord, it got me to the place, hate to see my bumble bee leave home”
    –Bumble Bee, Memphis Minnie, 1929. The lady got herself some morning sex.

    “I ain’t no doctor, but I’m the doctor’s wife
    You better come to me if you want to save your life
    He’s a dirty mother fuyer1, he don’t mean no good
    He got drunk this morning, tore up the neighborhood

    I want you to come here, baby, come here quick
    He done give me something ’bout to make me sick
    Awwww, dirty mother fuyer, he don’t mean no good
    He got drunk this morning, tore up the neighborhood”
    –Dirty Mother For You, Memphis Minnie, circa 1935. Yeah, she’s calling him a dirty motherfucker.

    “I met a man, asked me did I want to pally
    Yes, baby, let’s go down in the alley
    Take me down in the alley
    Take me down in the alley
    Take me down in the alley
    I can get any business fixed all right

    I met another man, asked me for a dollar
    Might have heard that mother fuyer holler
    Let’s go down in the alley
    Let’s go down in the alley
    Let’s go down in the alley
    You can get your business fixed all right”
    –Down In The Alley, Memphis Minnie, circa 1935. Yup. She don’t mind fucking in the alley.

  11. Kerry Howley hit it on the head: Brent Rozell is a freak who likes to dwell on what his neighbor’s daughter is up to. Prudery is pornography’s repressed mirror twin, the neighborhood voyeur protesting far, far too much that they are only interested in protecting public morals.

    Or, as Jesus put it: And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

    Smart man, Jesus. Saw right through the self-righteous.

  12. Oh, please! Referencing Robert Johnson proves nothing. He may have performed explicitly sexual songs in his day, but he wasn’t marketed as broadly as performers are today — and he wasn’t marketed quite as relentlessly towards children and pre-teens as, say, Eminem. I don’t think that it’s unreasonable to suggest that there is a genuine difference between a bluesman performing at an adult venue (and putting out records that were obscure and rare even in his day), and a video with explicit sexual references on a show like Total Request Live that’s beamed into millions upon millions of households immediately after school.

    And let’s be honest here. Like it or not, there is a difference in lyrical content. In “I Believe I’ll Dust My Broom”, Robert Johnson expresses disapproval of a woman who sleeps around. In “P.I.M.P.”, 50 Cent essentially extolls the virtues of degrading, humiliating, and physically beating a woman so thoroughly that she becomes a piece of property — and then throwing her away when he’s done.

    Does this mean that the youth of today are any more or less “degenerate” or “virtuous” than the youth of previous generations? I don’t know,and I’m not going to pretend that I do. The effect of popular culture on childhood development is a complicated matter.

    However, I’m able to at least appreciate why parents would be troubled by the difference between the generally more innocent popular music they (or their parents) grew up with and the explicitly sexual and demeaning lyrics kids are literally blasted with today.

  13. I hate Eminem even more than the next guy, but please, Grand Chalupa, whining about your victimized life has been a staple of hip music forever–just look at “(I can’t get no) satisfaction.” Yeahsure, Mick, you’re a millionaire rock star, and you can’t get any? Street Fighting Man is another good example, right out of Eminem’s whiny playbook–“now what can a poor boy do ‘cept to sing for a rock ‘n roll band?”

    This doesn’t make them bad–these are among my fave RS songs–but it just points to the difficulty of rooting for the square who wants to conform and hates rebellion. Rockstars always make themselves the underdog, ’cause nobody likes a winner.

  14. “Rockstars always make themselves the underdog, ’cause nobody likes a winner.”

    Really? Seems to me that Queen had a pretty big hit with “We are the Champions”.

    -jcr

  15. If I said your mom had a beautiful body would you hold it against me?

  16. Besides, what kind of a square listens to music with lyrics anymore?

  17. If you listen to more than the arena-stomp chorus, We Are the Champions is actually in line with the “woe is me” theme:

    I’ve paid my dues –
    Time after time –
    I’ve done my sentence
    But committed no crime –
    And bad mistakes
    I’ve made a few
    I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face –
    But I’ve come through

    I’ve taken my bows
    And my curtain calls –
    You brought me fame and fortune and everything that goes with it
    I thank you all –
    But it’s been no bed of roses
    No pleasure cruise –
    I consider it a challenge before the whole human race –
    And I ain’t gonna lose –

  18. Well if we’re talk’n double-entendre and post lyrics. I think we need to pay a little tribute to the master; Jim Stafford

    Bill walked me to my door last night
    And he said, ‘Before I go
    There’s something about our love affair
    That I have a right to know
    I said, “Let’s not stand out here like this
    What would the neighbors think
    Why don’t we just…step inside
    And I’ll fix us both a drink”

    My girl, Bill
    My, my, girl, Bill
    Can’t say enough about the way I feel
    About my girl
    (My girl, my girl)
    My girl, Bill

    William’s hands were shaking
    As he took his glass of wine
    And I could see we both felt the same
    When his eyes met mine
    I said, “‘Who we love and why we love
    It’s hard to understand
    So let’s just sit here on the couch
    And face this, man to man”

    My girl, Bill
    My, my, girl, Bill
    Can’t say enough about the way I feel
    About my girl
    (My girl, my girl)
    My girl Bill

    Bill, you know we just left her place
    And we both know what she said
    She doesn’t want to see your face
    And she wishes you were dead
    Now, I know we both love her
    And I guess we always will
    But you’re gonna have to find another
    ‘Cause she’s my girl…Bill

    My girl, Bill
    My, my, girl, Bill
    Can’t say enough about the way I feel
    About my girl
    (My girl, my girl)
    Talkin’ ’bout my little girl
    My girl, Bill

    My girl, Bill
    My, my, girl, Bill
    Can’t say enough about the way I feel
    About my girl
    (My girl, my girl)
    My girl, Bill

  19. Oh, please! Referencing Robert Johnson proves nothing.

    Wow. Your argument is so awful that I don’t know where to start.

    He may have performed explicitly sexual songs in his day,

    Not may have, he DID. DID perform sexually explicit songs in his day, though not as explicit as Memphis Minnie.

    but he wasn’t marketed as broadly as performers are today

    Yes, because artists were often marketed broadly in 1929. Yes, because artists were marketed broadly AT ALL in 1929. “Marketed broadly”, you’re going to be a great middle manager some day.

    — and he wasn’t marketed quite as relentlessly towards children and pre-teens as, say, Eminem.

    Uh, riiiiiiiiiight. Methinks someone doesn’t understand music in the deep south from 1930 onwards. Of COURSE it wasn’t “marketed” – music wasn’t then. What a stupid statement you make. But his music was the most popular thing to listen to and play and emulate for kids in the deep south then. Not to mention all of the kids in Europe in the 50s and 60s that called him their hero.

    I don’t think that it’s unreasonable to suggest that there is a genuine difference between a bluesman performing at an adult venue (and putting out records that were obscure and rare even in his day),

    Yeah, because the popular artists like Johnson and Minnie wouldn’t have had a record deal and wouldn’t have been making videos had that possibility existed then. You should swim back into the pool of shallow thought. The deep end is too much for you.

  20. I’m not much of a country music fan, but I’ve been learning a little about it recently:

    1) My uncle took me to a blue grass concert by some guy who’s apparently a legend in bluegrass circles several months ago (sorry, I can’t remember his name). Three generations of the family were on stage, and the teenage son and elderly grandfather stood there and listened proudly as a man sang about wanting to get his gun and shoot his wife.

    2) I saw “Walk the Line” a few months ago. I had no idea that Johnny Cash was such a “gangsta” musician: He sang about drugs, murder, adultery, and prison, and even did prison concerts.

    I know that none of this is really news, but it was news to me. And I suspect that the “family values” crowd would regard it as an “inconvenient truth.” Maybe Al Gore can make a documentary about country music.

  21. TPG,

    Your style of argument is pretty standard for internet discussion. Which is another way of saying that you’re incapable of arguing but you’ve showed that you excel at pedantic nitpicking.

    I obviously didn’t realize that music videos didn’t exist in 1929, so you have proved that you are indeed a very clever monkey. And that crack about me making a great “middle manager” one day? My goodness, I don’t know how I’ll ever recover from that one.

    However, my point still stands. Robert Johnson was a musician who was obscure in his own time. (He recorded only a handful of tracks near the end of his life, which found popularity mostly among white folkies and British blues rockers a decade or more after his death.) If we were to take a sampling of songs that were hits during his life and received wide exposure, we would quickly discover that his works weren’t representative of the music of the era. Whether you want to call it broad marketing or not, or whether you accept the validity of the term “marketing” as applied in the context of late ’20s popular music, I don’t really care. The fact is that there were songs that were extremely popular and found radio airplay, and there were songs that didn’t — and Johnson’s were definitely in that second camp.

    On the other hand, 50 Cent is quite a bit closer to the musical “center” these days. His songs are hardly unique or obscure, and it would be possible to list dozens of artists whose lyrics focus on similar themes.

    And, of course, there is quite a difference between a song expressing disapproval of a woman who sleeps around, and a song that extolls the virtues of emotionally, physically, and sexually abusing women.

    I’m not one of those people who believes that popular music is to blame for what ails us, and I don’t believe that songs are shiny hypno-coins that are capable of forcing people to do things that they wouldn’t do otherwise. The relationship between individuals and popular culture is extremely complex. However, I don’t think that it’s unreasonable (or unseemly) for parents to be concerned about the differences between contemporary popular music, and the stuff that dominated the airwaves in previous eras. And, of course, there is a genuine difference — both in the aggressive martketing techniques used today, and the content of the songs themselves.

  22. Last week I shot a man in Reno. Just to watch him die.

    Maybe I give kids these days too much credit, but I think most consumers of violent or sexually explicit music can differentiate between fantasy and reality.

    Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go lynch my landlord.

  23. Spanky-

    please define “aggressive marketing techniques”.

    side note: your handle is inspiring my to lewd and immoral behavior. I’ll be in my bunk.

  24. Back when I was still in my single-digit years, my parents bought the “Donna Summer’s Greatest Hits” album featuring the song “Love to Love You Baby.” For those of you unfamiliar with the song, the lyrics include about 40 orgasms expertly faked by Ms. Summer.

    So here’s the scenario: I’m sitting on the living-room floor playing with some toys, and my parents, unaware of my presence, are listening to the album. During that song they kept chuckling and saying “Well, sounds like she’s playing with herself again!” and other such comments. Finally I stood up and said (in the voice seven-year-olds use when grown-ups are being idiots) “She is NOT playing with herself, Daddy! I play with myself all the time, and I never sound like that.”

    Naturally, it was many years later before I figured out why my parents thought my remark was so damned funny.

    Conclusion: even if a small kid is listening to explicit lyrics, it doesn’t matter because the kid won’t know what they mean unless her parents do something inappropriate like explain it.

    Admittedly, I DID wind up knowing quite a bit about sex at a rather young age. But it wasn’t because of pop music–it was because of those indignant Christian books explaining (in explicit detail) exactly why pop music is so horrible.

  25. “Ain’t but two kinda people in this world that I can’t stand
    That’s a lying woman and a cheatin’, knockin’ man
    Well, I feel like slapping my pistol in your face
    I’m gonna let the graveyard be your resting place ”
    –Pistol Slapper Blues, Blind Boy Fuller, circa 1925. He’s going to shoot the cheating ho in the face.

    I can go on and on spanky. It’s an entire genre of music based on sex, violence, pain, drinking and loss. And they ALL sang about it. Repeatedly. Men and Women. Stars and local club acts. It’s not one guy with a few hard-to-find records at the time because he wasn’t “broadly marketed”.

    This is a discussion you don’t want to walk into. You are sooooo far in over your head here.

  26. There are things kids should not hear, safe things, and a big gray area. That’s why every kid has at least one guardian to help navigate the gray area.

    I’m more concerned about the stuff kids are required to read in public schools. My english teacher had us read “Pride of Miss Jean Brody”. The plot contained a liaison between a student and Miss Brody’s boyfriend. I decided then that I didn’t want to meet any of my teacher’s boyfriends.

  27. I got nipples on my titties, big as the end of my thumb,
    I got somethin’ between my legs’ll make a dead man come,
    Oh daddy, baby won’t you shave ’em dry?
    Aside: Now, draw it out!
    Want you to grind me baby, grind me until I cry.
    (Roland: Uh, huh.)

    Say I fucked all night, and all the night before baby,
    And I feel just like I wanna, fuck some more,
    Oh great God daddy,
    (Roland: Say you gonna get it. You need it.)

    Grind me honey and shave me dry,
    And when you hear me holler baby, want you to shave it dry.
    I got nipples on my titties, big as the end of my thumb,
    Daddy you say that’s the kind of ’em you want, and you can make ’em come,
    Oh, daddy shave me dry,
    (Roland: She ain’t gonna work for it.)

    And I’ll give you somethin’ baby, swear it’ll make you cry.
    I’m gon’ turn back my mattress, and let you oil my springs,
    I want you to grind me daddy, ’til the bell do ring,
    Oh daddy, want you to shave ’em dry,
    Oh great God daddy, if you can’t shave ’em baby won’t you try?
    Now if fuckin’ was the thing, that would take me to heaven,
    I’d be fuckin’ in the studio, till the clock strike eleven,
    Oh daddy, daddy shave ’em dry,
    I would fuck you baby, honey I’d make you cry.
    Now your nuts hang down like a damn bell sapper,
    And your dick stands up like a steeple,
    Your goddam ass-hole stands open like a church door,
    And the crabs walks in like people.
    Aside: Ow, shit!
    (Roland: Aah, sure enough, shave ’em dry?)

    Aside: Ooh! Baby, won’t you shave ’em dry
    A big sow gets fat from eatin’ corn,
    And a pig gets fat from suckin’,
    Reason you see this whore, fat like I am,
    Great God, I got fat from fuckin’.
    Aside: Eeeeh! Shave ’em dry
    (Roland: Aah, shake it, don’t break it)

    My back is made of whalebone,
    And my cock is made of brass,
    And my fuckin’ is made for workin’ men’s two dollars,
    Great God, round to kiss my ass.
    Aside: Oh! Whoo, daddy, shave ’em dry
    –Shave ‘Em Dry, Lucille Bogan, AKA Bessie Smith, circa 1923.

    Yeah, NEVER have we seen ANYTHING like those AWFUL rap lyrics before.


  28. I come to you, sweet man
    And I’m, I’m fallin’ on my knees
    I come to you, pretty papa
    Fallin’ on my knees
    Ask if you don’t have nobody
    Won’t you kindly take me please

    Cause I’m a mighty tight woman
    I’m a real tight woman
    Lord I’m a jack of all trades
    I can be your sweet woman
    Also be your slave
    Lord I can do things so good
    You will swear that I behave”
    –I’m A Mighty Tight Woman, Sippie Wallace, circa 1930.

  29. “All night long he’s drilling me
    He’s my man of war
    His bayonet makes me cry for aid
    Oh, he handles his hand grenades”
    –My Man Of War, Lizzie Miles, circa 1930.

  30. “got me the strangest woman
    believe me this trick’s no cinch
    but I really get her going
    when I whip out my big 10 inch

    record of a band that plays the blues
    well a band that plays its blues
    she just love my big 10 inch
    record of her favorite blues

    last night I tried to tease her
    I gave my love a little pinch
    she said now stop that jivin’
    now whip out your big 10 inch

    record of a band that plays those blues
    well a band that plays the blues
    she just loves my big 10 inch
    record of her favorite blues

    I, I, I cover her with kisses
    and when we’re in a lover’s clinch
    she gets all excited
    when she begs for my big 10 inch

    record of a band that plays those blues
    well a band that plays the blues
    she just love my big 10 inch
    record of her favorite blues

    my girl don’t go for smokin’
    and liquor just make her flinch
    seems she don’t go for nothin’
    ‘cept for my big 10 inch

    record of a band that plays the blues
    band that play the blues
    she just love my big 10 inch
    record of her favorite blues ”
    –My Big Ten Inch, Bull Moose Jackson, circa 1935.

    [whine]Buuuuuuuuuuut Robert Johnson wasn’t popularrrrrrrr[/whine]

  31. Of course, Bull Moose had to record songs like “I love you, yes I do” ( a very conventional romantic ballad without salacious content) to actually sell records that anyone outside of the adult blue market heard or bought. (Not that I wouldn’t have loved to have been one of the people in the late night bar where songs like “My big ten inch record” were played.

    I could give a shit less about explicit lyrics, but finding records with adult lyrics that are valuable today because of their rarity, and comparing them to the center of multi-million selling pop culture is beyond stretching to support your thesis.

  32. You did leave the “record” part off of the title for “My big ten inch record” by accident right?

    whine/buuuut ommitting inconvenient facts is fiiiine/whine

  33. I could give a shit less about explicit lyrics, but finding records with adult lyrics that are valuable today because of their rarity,

    Because there’s no way anything that was popular or easy-to-find in 1923 could be a valuable rarity here in 2006. Ask any antiques dealer if you don’t believe me.

  34. Sigh.. please watch an episode of Antiques Roadshow some time. They have to bring in thousands of people with items often much older than the 20’s to find a handfull of items woth more than a few dollars. If you think something is rare because it was made 80 years ago, ditch your dealer and buy some of my oh so rare worthless 20’s memorabilia.

    I will trade you a 78 from the 20’s for a 78 of My big ten inch if you think it’s rarity and value is because of its age.

  35. We are calling it my big ten inch now right?

    My persoanl big ten incher is not for sale.

    I also could not find an original copy of “My big ten inch record” for sale anywhere on the web. I can get you 78’s of the same vintage for around a dollar or less.

  36. Some balls are held for charity
    And some for fancy dress
    But when they’re held for pleasure
    They’re the balls that I like best
    My balls are always bouncing
    To the left and to the right
    It’s my belief that my big balls
    Should be held every night

    AC/DC, “Big Balls”, ca. 1976.

  37. Because there’s no way anything that was popular or easy-to-find in 1923 could be a valuable rarity here in 2006. Ask any antiques dealer if you don’t believe me.

    Two commentors on this topic are delusional. Somehow, even though I gave, what, eight examples, they still say “Nuh uh!” and cover their eyes and plug their ears. I could give fifty or sixty examples off of the top of my head and they’d still say that raunchy lyrics didn’t exist.

    Of course, Bull Moose had to record songs like “I love you, yes I do” ( a very conventional romantic ballad without salacious content) to actually sell records that anyone outside of the adult blue market heard or bought.

    And of course, his second and third biggest hits were “My Big Ten Inch” and “I Want a Bow-Legged Woman”. And of course, you keep ignoring this.

    “I want a bow legged
    Woman right now
    I want to find me
    A gal somehow
    She’s gotta be built like an ol’ bass fiddle
    Big bow legs and a hole in the middle”
    –I Want A Bow-Legged Woman, Bull Moose Jackson.

    So, let me get this straight. There were no raunchy expletive-filled lyrics because Robert Johnson wasn’t popular then. There were no raunchy lyrics because Bull Moose Jackson’s second and third most popular songs weren’t his MOST popular song.

    Also, there were no raunchy lyrics because Sippie Wallace, Lucy Bogan, Ma Rainey, Ada Brown, Lil Johnson, Memphis Minnie, Lizzie Miles, Georgia White, Barrelhouse Annie, Clara Smith, Maggie Jones, Blind Boy Fuller, Lonnie Johnson, Big Bill Broonzy, Charlie Jackson, Dorothy Baker, Dorothy Ellis, Kokomo Arnold, Walter Davis, St. Louis Jimmy, Victoria Spivey, Jimmie Gordon, Tampa Red, Rosie Sykes, Georgia Tom, Buddy Woods and hundreds of other artists never existed.

  38. TPG,

    I am certainly not in over my head here. I have a fairly extensive knowledge of the history of the recording industry from the days of Edison Records through to today, as the subject is a hobby and passion of mine. In fact, both people who appear to have knowledge about the recording industry in the ’20s (myself and Realitymeister) appear to agree that the records that you’re referencing were extremely rare even in their day.

    However, you’ve pretty clearly illustrated that you’re not interested in… any sort of discussion at all. Welcome to the internet, the land of know-it-all blowhards who don’t actually know much of anything at all.

    But I’m in over my depth here, right?

    That’s pretty funny.

  39. TPG,

    I’ve got to side with Spanky on this one. You’ve done an excellent job of proving that people recorded naughty lyrics even before BET. I thank you for introducing me to Lucille Bogan. I wonder why nobody has covered her stuff in the past fifty years (or have they?). However, the ubiquity of raunchy and degrading lyrics in the music listened to by young children is easily distinguishable from bygone generations.

    That being said, it does not necessarily follow that kids today are being damaged, and no one here is suggesting “something needs to be done” about it. Furthermore, the music of the youth has always horrified their parents for its sexuality (isn’t that the whole point). However, the constant exposure to explicit and debasing lyrics is a cause for concern that is unprecedented and goes beyond the animal passions stirred up by rock and roll’s one-two beat.

  40. “That being said, it does not necessarily follow that kids today are being damaged, and no one here is suggesting “something needs to be done” about it. Furthermore, the music of the youth has always horrified their parents for its sexuality (isn’t that the whole point). However, the constant exposure to explicit and debasing lyrics is a cause for concern that is unprecedented and goes beyond the animal passions stirred up by rock and roll’s one-two beat.”

    Wait, what? In the same breath you remind us that music of the youth has always offended older generations, then suggest that the current situation is cause for concern.

    before this thread devolved into some sort of vinyl-nerd one-upmanship I asked Spanky a simple question which he seems to have missed. What exactly constitute “aggressive marketing techniques”? Are these the same techniques which make kids fat via cartoon characters and hooked on smoking with their slick product placement?

    Won’t someone think of the poor-fat-brainwashed-voilent-fucking-sucking-addict childeren!!

  41. Comparing today’s rap lyrics with yesterday’s rock lyrics is like comparing Hustler with Playboy. It’s not at all “relative” to the times. Modern rap lyrics are for the most part a witless verbal and auditory assault. There’s nothing subtle about a sledge hammer. (Not that the little punks don’t deserve crappy music.)

  42. Do we really have to argue this nonsense again? Do we really have to relive Tipper Gore accusing the rock music of the 1980s of encouraging drug use (as opposed to say, clean wholesome 1960s rock)? Do we really have to remember the “experts” of the 1930s who accused swing music of encouraging teens to have sex? Or those critics of the 1880s who accused Wagnerian operas of causing young people to lose their inhibitions and — horrors — copulate?

    Do we really have to relive this nonsense every decade?

    Of course, we could be questioning the use of government funds to support studies like this. But that would be a true waste of time, wouldn’t it?

  43. Do we really?

    Yes, yes we do. And I’m sorry.

  44. TPG, given what you said in regards to my comment which you quoted–you are aware that I’m arguing on your side here, right?

  45. Spanky and Reallymeister seem to me what they’re talking about. I am no expert on old records myself, but I would be willing to bet almost any sum of money that at a time when no reputable publishing house, including even dictionaries, would print the word “fuck,” the multiple-f-bomb-dropping Lucille Bogan song above was not within a million miles of being a hit. Actual hits of 1923 or thereabouts include “Nothing Could Be Finer than to be in Carolina,” “Tea for Two,” and “When You and I Were Young, Maggie.”

  46. Why do I forget to use preview? The first sentence should have been “Spanky and Reallymeister seem to me To KNOW what they’re talking about.”

  47. 1. It’s back doorman, not back door man. You know, some bldgs. are so fancy they have a doorman for the back door too.

    2. The whole concept of dirty lyrics sneaking into a family-friendly context was made fun of on Arrested Development with the father singing “Afternoon Delight” with his young son and young niece.

    3. I believe soundies, a film version of the music video, did exist in 1929.

  48. I remember reading Bulwer-Lytton’s execrable book “The Last Days of Pompeii” as a young teen, and later, as a college English major, read about the cultural background of when the book was written–when the Pompeiian excavations began, prudish Victorians were scandalized to learn how ubiquitous sex was in Roman culture. People would actually hang reproductions of the human penis over their doorways as a type of good-luck charm! And in the streets, you could find drawings of a certain female body part, along with arrows poitning you to the nearest brothel where you could see such body parts in the flesh. So the Victorians, including Bulwer-Lytton, thought that the destruction of Pompeii was a type of Sodom-and-Gomorrah retribution against the city for having such appallingly loose sexual mores.

    So tell me, Spanky and Reallymeister–do you think Roman children’s exposure to explicit sex is why the Empire collapsed (after outlasting our own by several hundred years, I mean)? I don’t think so–Rome survived and even thrived for centuries, even with its children’s exposure to shocking sexual content. If the Romans could handle explicit sex without falling to pieces, why the hell can’t we? Why do you find sex so terrifying, anyway?

  49. Do we really have to argue this nonsense again? Do we really have to relive Tipper Gore accusing the rock music of the 1980s of encouraging drug use (as opposed to say, clean wholesome 1960s rock)? Do we really have to remember the “experts” of the 1930s who accused swing music of encouraging teens to have sex? Or those critics of the 1880s who accused Wagnerian operas of causing young people to lose their inhibitions and — horrors — copulate?

    Don’t you see that this time it’s all different? When I was their age, the music wasn’t nearly as bad as the crap that kids these days listen to!

    Back in the good old days, we listened to wholesome acts like Nirvana and Two Live Crew and Dr. Dre and Guns ‘N Roses. Kids these days listen to such filth!

    I know what you’re thinking: You’re thinking that parents back then were upset about that stuff. But, you see, this time it’s different.

  50. If Wikipedia is to be trusted (and it can’t always be, but I would trust it over someone called Tom Paine’s Goiter): Lucille Bogan was not the same person as the celebrated Bessie Smith, but rather, someone who also used the pseudonym Bessie Jackson. The song above was recorded in 1935, not 1923, and Wikipedia notes that it was an “alternate take” of lyrics that were usually altered for taste-related reasons in recordings. Bull Moose Jackson does seem to have been genuinely popular, however.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucille_Bogan
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bull_Moose_Jackson
    P.S. I’ll stake out a position that will really drive people nuts – many of the songs of early periods DID deserve to be condemned. Not all, of course: However morally unpleasant people like Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry may have been in real life, and however sexual their onstage style may have been, it’s hard to find many truly objectionable moments in their lyrics or the lyrics of most other early rock-and-rollers,* and that even goes for the performers of the 1960s to some extent as well. But by the time of the AC/DC song mentioned above and others like it, genuinely popular music (as opposed to the obscure blues records mentioned above) had begun a downhill slide which gets worse with every passing year.

    * Yes, I know there are some, especially in Little Richard songs. Don’t belabor me with a list, TPG.

  51. it’s hard to find many truly objectionable moments in their lyrics or the lyrics of most other early rock-and-rollers,

    But what exactly is “objectionable” about sexual lyrics? Or to put it another way: if those toga-wearing pansy Romans were man enough to handle explicit sex without their world collapsing around them, why can’t we do the same?

    Thoreau–

    In all seriousness, when the song “Me So Horny” came out I remember turning to a friend of mine and saying “Just think. When our generation has kids and they become teenagers, our kids will listen to musicians capable of shocking parents who grew up listening to the 2 Live Crew.”

  52. “So tell me, Spanky and Reallymeister–do you think Roman children’s exposure to explicit sex is why the Empire collapsed (after outlasting our own by several hundred years, I mean)? I don’t think so–Rome survived and even thrived for centuries, even with its children’s exposure to shocking sexual content. If the Romans could handle explicit sex without falling to pieces, why the hell can’t we? Why do you find sex so terrifying, anyway?”

    Jennifer,

    With all due respect, what the fuck are you talking about? Kids can listen to live recordings of you fingering your own sphincter for all I care. I was simply calling someone out for lying to make his point. A point I agree with you ignorant slut.

  53. “So, let me get this straight. There were no raunchy expletive-filled lyrics because Robert Johnson wasn’t popular then. There were no raunchy lyrics because Bull Moose Jackson’s second and third most popular songs weren’t his MOST popular song.”

    Are you arguing with the voices in your head? Who said there were no raunchy lyrics? You are the one who does not seem to understand that your ability to google raunchy blues lyrics does not turn those recordings into items of popular culture with the same distribution levels as 50 cents last album.

    They were niche products, but you were not going to see those records in department stores or played on the radio. Some of them sold decently for niche products, but your average joe was not going to hear those songs unless he went looking for them.

    Unless you have some sales figures to suggest otherwise please close your mouth and open your ears and learn something.

    As far as the number one hit and number two hit of Bull Moose, that is a laugh. I found a 78 of “I love you..” for 20 bucks on the net. I can’t find a “My big ten inch record” original anywhere.
    However, since it was such a “hit” I am sure you can find one for the same 20 dollars.

    It is a difference in volume, not kind. There were recordings that would make a whore blush from every era of recording history. They just were not as available. I see no reason to worry about this wider distribution, but to deny it is lunacy.

  54. I wonder of Brent Bozell is familiar with Robert Burns.

    From “Ode to Spring” by Robert Burns circa 1795

    When maukin bucks, at early f-ks,
    In dewy glens are seen, sir,
    When birds on boughs tak aff their m-ws,
    Amang the leaves sae green, sir,
    Latona’s son looks liquorish on
    Dame Nature’s grand impetus,
    Till his p-t-e rise, then westward flies,
    To f-k old Madame Thetis.

  55. From the movie “10”:

    “George: If you were dancing with your wife, or girlfriend you knew in high school, and you said to her, Darling, they’re playing our song, do you know what they’d be playing?
    Don: What?
    George: Why Don’t We Do It In The Road. Fuckin’ hell kind of era is that?”

  56. Bah! Corrupt musicians have been ruining the morals of the youth of the city since before my day. That fellow Bloom, who seems to think he’s my modern press agent, told you all about it.

  57. What we really need to do is ban electricity and go back to the wholesome days when kids this age were milking cows and helping Pa castrate the pigs.

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