Sex And Drugs Have Always Been In The Music

3758 words - 15 pages


It seems as if someone is always complaining about popular music on the market.  References to illegal drugs and sexual conduct are two of the most common complaints.  Adults claim that rock and roll stars are bad influences to children.  The lyrical content of songs and the examples set by musical idols are not suitable for minors.  Today's music, especially, tests the limits of good taste.  Objections to artists like Eminem, Lil' Kim, and Fred Durst are everyday occurrences, but what the judgmental public and media do not discuss is that these complaints are anything but new.  Songs by the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and the Doors have also been objects of this type of condemnation.  Even as far back as operas by Germany's Richard Wagner in the late 19th century, there exist examples of sexual behavior in music.  Perhaps these scornful antagonists should look into their own music collection before they burn their children's at the stake.

The Beatles were English heartthrobs that took America by storm.  Songs like "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," and "When I Saw You," were teenage girls' anthems. The Beatles were the picture of a good role model.  Who would imagine that these clean-cut boys with harmonious voices would sing about drugs in some of their later work?  It is well known that after a while some of the band began to abuse illegal drugs.  "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," which was so well known that archeologists were naming findings after it, was actually a tribute to LSD.  "Hey Jude," which was publicized as a song written by Paul McCartney to John Lennon's oldest son Julian at the time of his father's remarriage, was rumored to actually be about heroin.  "The minute you let it under your skin, then you begin to make it better."(Bailey 8)  "Puff the Magic Dragon," by Peter, Paul, and Mary, quickly became "the anthem of the drug revolution," even though the group denies the connection to smoking marijuana. (Bailey 8)

These examples are indirect examples, however.  A more explicit song from the days of an earlier generation would be "Cocaine," by Jackson Browne.  Perhaps Ella Fitzgerald never mentioned the word cocaine in her song "Wacky Dust," but the subject of the song is clear.  "Do a marathon, you'll want to go on, kicking the ceiling apart." (Bailey 7)  Even though the song "You're a Viper," never mentions marijuana, the verse containing "Dream about a reefer, 5 feet long, mighty immense, but not too strong, you'll get high, but not for long, if you're a viper," is a dead giveaway and was meant to be. (Bailey 7)   The Beach Boys, as well gave a symbolic shout-out to acid in "Sloop John B," when they refer to "Officer John Stone," and "this is the worst trip I've ever been on." 

Do the adults of today forget that they are the children of Woodstock?  Do they forget that their friends attended a concert where people rolled in the mud because they were tripping so hard on acid?  Woodstock...

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