My buddy Steve, a thoughtful man of a certain age, has been rifling through his record collection lately, and he’s making some interesting observations …
To be politically correct you should think before you speak, write, sing or do anything that might offend, upset, exclude, marginalize or insult someone. This may impinge on the right to free speech and limit discussion and debate, but being respectful and considerate of others is what it’s all about.
When I was so much younger I listened to songs on the radio that would now be considered politically incorrect. Back then people didn’t get that these tunes were describing sexual harassment, discrimination, bullying and assault. Gender parity didn’t exist and sexual misconduct was common. Society has changed for the better, right?
Wait a minute, if you watch the 6 o’clock news is Dylan’s song The Times They are a Changin’ really happening? Well, we do have #Me Too on social media showing the magnitude of sexual assault against women. Justin Trudeau, speaking as our new Minister of Public Apologies, giving reconciliation speeches saying he is sorry for past wrongs. There is a sexual tsunami of lewdness and inappropriate behaviour being exposed by many women who now have the courage to out the celebrities and politicians that have sexually harassed them in their work place. Only problem is most of these guys are being immediately fired from their jobs, except for Donald Trump. He is accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of women and now says being politically correct is not affordable. The time’s they aren’t a changin’ as fast as they should.
Music has always played a big role in describing the culture we live in. Going back in time I wonder which famous boy band’s songs showed more political correctness, The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?
The Beatles have a song on their Sergeant Pepper album called Getting Better. Here are a few lines: “I used to be cruel to my woman. I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved. Man, I was mean, but I’m changing my scene.”
The song Run for Your Life from the Rubber Soul album has these lyrics: “Well I’d rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man. Catch you with another man, that’s the end ah little girl.”
On the “B” side of the single Can’t Buy Me Love is the song You Can’t Do That. In 1964 it wasn’t considered misogyny to sing: “I got something to say that might cause you pain, if I catch you talking to that boy again, I’m gonna let you down and leave you flat, because I told you before, oh you can’t do that.”
The Rolling Stones have a very famous song called Under My Thumb. Mick sings: “Under my thumb, the squirmin’ dog who’s just had her day, under my thumb, a girl who has just changed her ways. It’s down to me, the way she does just what she’s told. Down to me the change has come. Under my thumb…”
Taken off the Stones album “Sticky Fingers” is the hit single Brown Sugar. It’s about a young slave. He asks, “Brown Sugar, how come you taste so good, just like a black girl should.” The flip side has the song Bitch which has this line, “When you call my name, I salivate like a Pavlov dog.”
Other politically incorrect records spinning on the juke boxes were by girl groups. In 1963 The Chrystals sang about when a man loves a woman he could hit her. Their misguided lyrics are scary: “He hit me and it felt like a kiss, he hit me but it didn’t hurt me and I knew he loved me. If he didn’t care for me, I could never have made him mad, but he hit me and I was glad.”
Sandy Posey’s song Born a Woman was about her view of society in 1966. “A woman’s place on this old world is under some man’s thumb, and if you’re born a woman you’re born to be hurt, born to be stepped on, lied to, cheated on and treated like dirt.”
Lesley Gore broke ranks and was ahead of her time when she let the politically incorrect men in her life know what was going down: “You don’t own me, I’m not just one of your many toys, You don’t own me, Don’t say I can’t go out with other boys, And don’t tell me what to do, And don’t tell me what to say, And please, when I go out with you don’t put me on display…”
What wasn’t on display on the Ed Sullivan show was Elvis Presley shaking his hips because it was too sexy for young girls to see. Yet his song Kissin’ Cousins got a lot of airtime. “I’ve got a gal, she’s as cute as she can be, she’s a distant cousin but she’s not too distant with me. We’ll kiss all night, I’ll kiss her tight, but we’re kissin’ cousins and that’s what makes it all right.”
Good old Tom Jones, had a “hit song” (in quotations) called Dellilah. He sang: “As she deceived me I watched and went out of my mind… At break of day when the man drove away, I was waiting, I cross the street to her house and she opened the door, she stood there laughing, I felt the knife in my hand and she laughed no more.”
There were many other songs that raced up the charts back in the 60’s and 70’s that wouldn’t climb very high today because they are lacking political correctness: Pat Boone sang about Speedy Gonzales. Ray Stevens did Ahab the Arab. Chuck Berry went on about playing with My Ding-a-ling. Johnny Preston’s song was about a native man called Running Bear and Cher’s song Half Breed did really well. Randy Newman sang about Short People. The band Queen liked Fat Bottomed Girls. Johnny Cash’s “friend” that made him a lot of money was A Boy named Sue.
One of the best selling hit singles in the history of country music is Stand by Your Man by Tammy Wynette. Despite its #1 status the Women’s Liberation Movement claimed it was anti-feminist. “Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman, giving all your love to just one man, you’ll have bad times, and he’ll have good times, doin’ the things that you don’t understand… Stand by your man, after all he’s just a man.”
Today, to be politically correct you would have to sing, stand by your man, woman, lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer or questioning partner, after all he or she is just one of the above. Now, doesn’t that make you want to start singing Shania’s song Man, I Feel Like a Woman?
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect … oh never mind!