Sunday, November 23, 2014

Songs I like despite their vulgarity*

King Crimson - The Great Deceiver

I've always loved the energy of this song. It is performed beautifully, and has such a cool vibe. Lyrically, everything is great after the offensive first line (i won't reprint them here), but I cringe at it every time, especially with the spitting kind of delivery Wetton gives it. I wish he was talking about a cigarette, or a small firelog, but no, Palmer-James' lyric is decidedly, and gratuitously, homophobic.

Pink Floyd - St. Tropez

Roger Waters has a long history of using racial slurs in his songs. The Wall was, of course, replete with them. This song from Meddle goes back to 1971, and it is mostly a sweet, mellow little tune, bouncing along in it's pseudo-ragtime style. The line in question, however, is 3/4 the way through the song, and uses the term "good-time coon" to describe the way someone drinks champagne. I had a "guitar" music book once that replaced the offensive line with "big tycoon," but Roger clearly doesn't sing that. It would have been a better choice, though, as far as I'm concerned. Bad ol' Rog!

Supertramp - Potter

A couple of years before this band scored big with their song, Dreamer, they recorded a nice record with a close-up of a tattooed woman's breasts on the front cover. Sexploitation aside, there's a song on there called Potter (no it's not about a young wizard), and it's described in the liner notes as "a crude piece of British Rock." True that, as it contains the gratuitous use of the N word. Although I've always liked the song otherwise, I'm uncomfortable hearing that word, perhaps especially because the song was written by a two white dudes, and sung by a another white dude. Interesting coincidence: Richard Palmer-James, who wrote many mid-70's King Crimson lyrics (see above), was Supertramp's first guitarist, although he had nothing to do with this song.

Genesis - Illegal Alien

I kinda hate that I like this song. First, it is not at all from my favorite era of Genesis, but that's only part of the problem. I think it is one of the better songs on their self-titled album of 1983, but then, that album is really not that great anyway. It has a few good songs (Silver Rainbow, Taking It All Too Hard, Just A Job To Do), a couple of earworms (That's All, It's Gonna Get Better), and at least one fairly noodly piece of filler (Mama). Those aside, my problem with Illegal Alien is that Phil Collins sings it with a mocking Hispanic accent. I think other than that, it's a very catchy pop song that does speak to a topical issue. It could have addressed the issue, however, as a general one, potentially applied to any country (most of them, I hear, have borders), but instead Collins tied it to the southwestern American border in a most offensive way.

* Vulgarity here refers mainly to instances of sexism, racism, or homophobia in the lyrics

Sent from my iPhone, thus, is succint.

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