These days seems like somebody is offended by something. I am not at all using this blog space to argue the validity of someone taking offense at something. But, when someone being offended by, say, a piece of music leads to the banning of said piece of music, especially when that piece of music is a classic hit record that pre-dates that person’s time on the planet, I do have some thoughts about that.
In the mid-80s, there was a group of parents using their connections to powerful people in Congress to sue hard rock bands, try to ban certain records from radio airplay, and force recording artists to put “parental advisory labels” on their records because these parents – unlike my parents – had a problem telling their kids things like, “Turn that crap down” or “Stop playing that record over and over and over again” or “No, you can’t have that” or “No, I won’t buy that for you” or “You can’t play that in my house.” The group fizzled out by the late 90s.
I stopped listening to Top 40 radio – i.e. having it on my radio in the house/car on a regular basis – in 1994 – that’s nineteen NINETY-FOUR, and I had a bunch of reasons, at the time, which I might revisit on this blog at some point. But that’s not to say that I don’t hear current radio hits in the Uber of the moment, or in a friend’s car/house, or in a store.
As time has moved on from the mid-90s, recording technologies have become more user-friendly, music programs have all but disappeared from public school curriculums, and stuff that would never have gotten “in the door” of a radio programmer’s office before has now become acceptable as music in the first place, I hear several things in many current radio hits that are offensive to mine ears before I ever get around to the lyrical content or general “message” of the hit record. So, you know… there’s that.
Again, not questioning the validity of a person taking offense to a piece of music, or the circumstances (however tragic) that might be brought to mind by said piece of music. But really, people. Your offense to it should not have any bearing on my ability to hear it, and vice versa. That’s why we now have headphones and earphones, and various devices upon which we can hear anything we want at a given moment and, thereby, not hear whatever else might be playing in an environment where we do not control the playlist.
And so, you know… since I’ve been my own programmer for the past 25 years, I’m playing the Ray Charles-Betty Carter recording of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” on a daily basis this holiday season because I love that record!!! Also, because it really is cold outside.