’Net Junkie

Shawn "Speedy" Lopes

Monday, October 28, 2002

Web site depicts
music censorship

If there's been one constant for Americans over the past 50 years, it's been our elders' intense aversion for the music we grew up with, says Eric Nuzum, author of "Parental Advisory: Music Censorship In America." For a brief history of the music your parents never wanted you to hear, visit

Nuzum's list dates as far back as pre-rock 'n' roll 1951, when radio stations forbade Dean Martin's "Wham Bam, Thank You Ma'am" and Dottie O'Brien's "Four Or Five Times" from the airwaves for being too suggestive. In 1955, all hell broke loose when officials, who'd never seen mass dancing at rock concerts, called in riot squads.

In the 1960s, "Louie, Louie" by the Kingsmen was banned for its sexual references, although it's never been proven that its hard-to-decipher lyrics mean anything at all, while in that decade of excess known as the 1970s, paranoid radio programmers kept John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High" off the airwaves for fear of its perceived "drug references."

Christian groups in the 1980s called for a ban on MTV and a Jimmy Swaggart-led coalition pressured Wal-Mart to remove pop music magazines like Rolling Stone and Tiger Beat from its shelves. A bill was introduced to outlaw all "subliminal messages" from rock records and even patriotic rocker Bruce Springsteen's album "Born In The U.S.A." came under fire when a misguided few believed its cover depicted the Boss urinating on the American flag. The decade also saw the first of notorious Miami rappers 2 Live Crew's long history of obscenity charges.

In the '90s, there were impassioned calls for boycotts of albums by Sinéad O'Connor (she ripped up a photo of the Pope in a "Saturday Night Live" performance) and Ice-T (author of the rock-rap anthem "Cop Killer"). In 1998, a Michigan high school student was suspended for wearing a T-shirt by nü-metal hellions Korn, despite the fact that the shirt bore only the band's name. That same year, a South Carolina principal canceled an Indigo Girls concert at his school when he found out the acoustic twosome were lesbians, while authorities at a St. Louis, Mo., high school ordered an instrumental version of Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" nixed from its marching band's repertoire for its "drug references."

As the saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

’Net Junkie drops every Monday.
Contact Shawn "Speedy" Lopes at

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