Thoughts About 3 Songs From The 80s
May 12, 2017
We are driving to school. Close to being able to drop V off. We've been side by side in the car for almost an hour, and we're still flipping through radio channels, trying to find some decent tunes that we aren't tired of.
For the 6th or 7th time in the hour, we land on the hip-hop oldies channel. It's "Banned in The U.S.A" by 2 Live Crew. We keep it on.
Maybe it's the current state of national affairs. Maybe it's that I'm a sucker for stories where the little guy sticks it to those who make the rules. I was tickled pink by The People vs Larry Flynt, Private Parts, and Straight Outta Compton, despite not being a big fan of Hustler or Howard Stern. (I do like a little N.W.A. now and then.)
But it strikes me that "Banned in the U.S.A" is a really good, and a very patriotic song. It's much more patriotic in its expression of "no one can trample on our right to free speech in this country" than the song it samples/spoofs. Politicians love to play the Boss's "Born in the U.S.A." at their events, presumingly having never listened to the lyrics. For you youngsters, it's an 80s hit about a guy who returns from was just to be shit on by an America who doesn't really care about his sacrifices. Again, it's hard not to think of current events.
I try to bring my mind back to the 80s. I was a member of the generation whose parents were losing their damned minds over the music. "Satanic lyrics" was in the news night after night. Record banning was the cause of the day. Three kids in West Memphis got convicted of murder with the only real evidence being that they liked to listen to metal and the adults were scared shitless.
The song ends, and another pile of poo is on behind. By now, V is at school, but I'm still in the car channel scanning. I stop on Outlaw Country. The song is Kenny Rogers "Coward of the County." It's a terrible country song released in 1979 that I heard on old dail-based radios in the 80s no less than 9000 times, but I haven't heard it in years. I settle in for one more listen.
The song tells the story of a guy who didn't like to fight. People made fun of him, but he was fine. Until one day, his wife was gang raped. Then, he fought the rapists.
Yes, for real. That's the story of the song.
Jesus H. Christ, it's a terrible song!
So to recap, parents in the 80s were okay with the rape song being on the radio all the time, but not the black kids on cassette tapes chanting "Hey, we want some pussy," a vulgarly worded, but entirely normal sentiment for young men.
Now that I've peaked your interests, I present what I promise is the only playlist to ever feature these three songs together: