Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Don't Forget The Lyrics

It's the heat.  It gets to me, certain songs just go better with the warm weather.  And so, my brain started singing In The Summertime.  I got to thinking about the song, and the 1995 cover version by Shaggy. More so, I got to thinking about the lyrics.

I love the Mungo Jerry version, with its crazy sound effects.  But if you listen to it, it's a pretty nasty song.  I can fully see why Shaggy changed "have a drink, have a drive, and see what you can find" for the sanitised "driving round, to see what I can find".  In fact, if my memories are accurate, I think the original lyrics were used as a public safety film against drink driving.  Even away from that bit, though, it's still an uncomfortable listen. "If her daddy's rich, take her out for a meal, if her daddy's poor just do what you feel".  Excuse me?  Is a woman's value & virtue entirely linked to her father's bank balance?  Gee, thanks 1970!

Shane - Doesn't Forget The Lyrics

And I carried on thinking, while listening to Squeaky's choice of music in the car.  Justin Fletcher.  No, don't panic, he's just got some good examples.  On one of his CDs he sings Nelly The Elephant.  And his elephant doesn't slip her iron chains, she simply runs away.  I don't think she goes to Hindustan either, but I'm too warm to go & find out for sure.  Fair enough, animal cruelty isn't something to encourage in toddlers.

Then on his latest CD, he sings The Clapping Song. You know, "3, 6, 9, the goose drank wine..." Only his monkey doesn't choke, he thinks it was a joke. And I still have no idea what his momma wouldn't buy him, but it's not a rubber dolly (and I was very disappointed that he didn't kiss a soldier!).  The thing that strikes me strangest about this particular sanitisation is that the goose is still drinking wine and the monkey chewing tobacco, two things that really aren't pre-schooler appropriate, probably more so than the monkey choking.  Couldn't the monkey chew spearmint gum or something?  And the goose drink lime?

(While I was googling for the non-existant lyrics for the Justin version, I found more covers of The Clapping Song than I ever wanted to know about. Aaron Carter, Lady Gaga, dear oh dearie me)

I'm not sure how I feel about sanitising lyrics. On one hand, I'm glad that drink driving isn't an acceptable theme for pop music, but on the other, aren't there enough other songs to cover that don't need the dettol treatment? They're the product of a different time, with different norms.  There's plenty of S Club, Steps, Hannah Montana, TakeSpiceBoyzLife type songs out there, just dying for a cover for a new audience, that don't need their lyrics messing with.  It gets to the point of that atrocious "Christmas Is All Around" from Love, Actually.  Seriously, that was just horrifying.

Sweet Dreams Aren't Made Of This

Don't even get me started on switching the gender of a song for the cover version. Especially when it's completely irrelevant. Cher, I'm looking at you.

What do you think?

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