"Offensive" (Old) Lyrics Question

Fred Dabney fdabney@NMSU.EDU
Mon Jun 29 13:50:57 EDT 1998


>When I sing a song, I take it personal.  It's coming out of my mouth,
>and it should be something I agree with.  There are songs I would refuse
>to perform, or at least I wouldn't do them vocally, because I don't
>agree with the lyrics.
>
>I'm not telling others what they must do, nor am I really arguing with
>DavidS. I'm just sharing my opinion and "take" on the subject.  It's my
>conscience that has to answer the bell when I perform.  Your mileage may
>vary.

A true dilemma, well expressed.  But you are an artist, not a pamphleteer
and there is a difference.

Back during the Viet Nam era, one of the science fiction mags did a feature
where they invited prominent writers to write essays on whether or not we
should stay or get out of the war.

I was surprised to read some cogent essays supporting the viewpoint that we
were killing to support a despicable regime for no reason etc.  What
surprised me wasn't the viewpoint, it was the fact that they were being
expressed by writers who, based on their fiction, I'd have expected to be of
the "nuke 'em until they glow" school.  Over and over again, someone writes
into Analog, castigating the authors for writing and the editor for
publishing stories
the premise of which the letter writer finds distasteful, and over and over
the editor has to explain that in fiction, the writer doesn't /have/ to be
espousing the viewpoint, but that as a writer he does have the right to
explore where it can take you.

Ok.  This is a bit far afield, so let's at least get it to music.  Opera is
full of some truly nasty villans.  Iago, in Verdi's "Otello" is a louse of
the first order, but I seriously doubt if anyone in the house things that
Gene Ramey actually behaves that way off stage.

Final analysis, of course is that you do what you're comfortable doing, and
if you can't sing a line, don't.
But I'd rather hear the original version and make my own mind up as to
whether or not the singer is a viscious brute or just one who likes old
songs.

And let's face it- if we remove all those violent images, those bawdy lyrics
and those sexist references, we don't have much left.  It's the stuff that
/makes/ it blues and not just Campfire Girls' Songs...

BTW- I read that Louis /loved/ the song "Shine" and was disappointed when
the public made him quit singing it in his acts, and refused for a long time
to change the lyrics to "Sleepy Time down South" which he used as a theme
for many years.

Hear something obscure from the world of early blues and jazz at 9 pm Friday
and Saturday night with host Fred Dabney from the Back Room of KRWG-FM, 90.7
FM, Las Cruces, NM
<fdabney@nmsu.edu>



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