SWINGIN TO THE OLDIES
Lately I have found myself listening to, of all things, K-EARTH, a radio station that plays "oldies". Not classic rock, but OLDIES. And I know all the words to all the songs. When I was a teenager this station used to play Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry and the Shirelles. Now it plays Bob Seger and Elton John and the lyrics are coming out of my primoridial brain. It's kind of a shocking phenomenon that first evidenced itself down in Mexico over New Year's. My friend Louie, music collector extraordinaire was playing tunes that, I swear I hadn't heard since dances in the Junior high cafeteria. Stuff like Sweet singing Fox on the Run and Mouth and MacNeal doing How Do You Do, Uh Huh, I Thought by Now Na-na-na.
So I have been revisiting some of the music from my long ago past and I just bought Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road on CD. This purchase was also motivated by going to the pre-show for his Las Vegas extravaganza - if you get a chance to go, do so! It's amazing.
Anyway - I'm sitting here today writing and listening and singing along and remembering how we used to dance around in my friend Linda's living room singing at the top of our lungs. This album was released in 1973 and it was one of my favorites because it was a double album that opened up to reveal these cool illustrations with all the lyrics. Today as I am singing along: Sweet painted lady/Seems it's always been the same/Getting paid for being laid/Guess that's the name of the game, I find myself wondering what has changed in this world? There wasn't a massive outcry from our parents that their sweet, innocent little children were being corrupted by this flamboyant man in high heels singing about prostitutes and lesbians? I mean there's this huge outcry about rap having a bad influence the young'uns, and from a fashion sense I have say it hasn't had the best effect on young white boys who are trying to be playahs with their pants belted around their upper thighs, but a lot of rap is more about angry social commentary. Yes they call women bitches and ho's - but so did Elton. There was absolutely no missing what he meant. When he says, "I'm gonna tell the world you're a dirty little girl, someone grab that bitch by her ears/Rub her down scrub her back/And turn her inside out/Cause I bet she hasn't had a bath in years, isn't that a tad mysoginistic?
Maybe it's the melodic tunes? Maybe they weren't paying such close attention as those were the days when we were allowed to play outside in the street without fear of a pedophile carrying us off? Maybe it's because we weren't dressed like Britney Spears when we were singing at the top of our lungs, "I'm a genuine example of a social disease". We were wearing cotton short sets with van tennis shoes and were about as sexual as Lisa Simpson. In any case Linda's mother, a woman who had a helmet hairdo and plastic on every inch of her furniture and carpet, never blinked an eye as we jumped around singing The Bitch is Back!
None of us grew up to be prostitutes and some of us were already bitches and one or two were probably already lesbians but didn't know it yet. I think the key difference is that we were still so innocent. Sure we all had our copies of Our Bodies, Ourselves and we knew how babies were made, but that was so not a part of our experience yet.
I don't think that music or lyrics can corrupt kids - they've already got the information and they're not stupid. I hope that kids can still have the kind of fun that we had - cause it was a blast.