Music throwback: banned songs?

Here’s a song – and I think it’s a good thing – that you DON’T hear much anymore.

Julie Brown
Julie Brown
The discussion about whether radio stations should play Baby, It’s Cold Outside heated up in 2018, with some suggesting that the song should go away and others suggesting the song is not a problem. A LOT of people in this discussion argue, “Don’t they have something better to do?”

I commented about the song back in 2017. My basic belief is that I don’t much care – ban it, don’t.

These posts led to some nifty conversations about what ELSE has been banned. To be sure, a radio station choosing not to play a song isn’t an outright ban unless some government entity actually prohibits it. The FBI checked out Louie Louie by the Kingsmen (#2 pop for six weeks, #1 r&b for six weeks in 1963) but couldn’t figure out what was said.

I recall Society’s Child by Janis Ian (#14 pop in 1967) didn’t get played on certain radio stations because of the interracial reference. Even Love Child by Diana Ross and the Supremes (#1 pop for two weeks pop, #2 r&b for three weeks) got yanked by a couple stations.

The more interesting conversation is what songs SHOULD be axed now. More than one person noted Run For Your Life by the Beatles (1965), “I’d rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man.” I admit it is one of my least favorite songs by the group, and John Lennon himself has dismissed it. It’s possibly the reason the Revolver album ranks higher with me than Rubber Soul.

What about Hey Joe, by the Leaves (#31 in 1966), famously covered by Jimi Hendrix (1968), about actually shooting someone? Ditto Neil Young’s Down by the River (1969). Or do they belong to the genre of “murder ballads” such as Pretty Polly (1968), famously covered by Judy Collins?

Now here’s a song – and I think it’s a good thing – that you DON’T hear much anymore. The Crystals’ He Hit Me (and It Felt Like a Kiss) (1962) was written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King.

There’s one song that I own a Dr. Demento album that I’ve not heard for decades on the radio. Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun by Julie Brown (1983) was played on MTV in the early days. School shootings were once a rare event, so this was just an absurd, possibly tasteless, joke in the 1980s. I can’t imagine it being played in the era of Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Stoneman Douglas, and Brown hasn’t performed it in two decades.

What songs, if any, would you ban?

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

One thought on “Music throwback: banned songs?”

  1. Too close to “He Hit Me” for comfort: “Johnny Get Angry,” Joanie Sommers’ plea for a shouting match, or something, and “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” Lesley Gore’s sequel to “It’s My Party” which winds up with “So I kissed some other guy / Johnny jumped up and he hit him.” He still loves her, she says.

    And even in 1963, it was still possible to get Richard Berry’s original version of “Louie Louie,” complete with intelligibility.

  2. Smash It Up by The damned (1979) was banned in Britain as it was because it was thought to “promote hooliganism.” Or actually, according to their drummer, it wasn’t officially banned but it was simply eliminated from playlists. (I understand The Offspring did a version of the song for a Batman movie in 1995 with changed lyrics.)

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