But if I really say it, the radio won’t play it

Boldly creative art has been facing censorship for centuries, and attempts to stifle provocative popular music lyrics have been going on since the Top 40 Hit Parade debuted way back in the 1930s.  Over the years and still true today (although to a far lesser extent), song words have been occasionally bleeped, masked and even outright banned to keep lyrics deemed inappropriate or objectionable from being heard on the public airwaves.

musiccensorshipMuch as films were heavily censored in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s to remove any scenes or dialog considered by industry watchdogs to be immoral, popular music in the first decades of the rock and roll era often came under the same sort of scrutiny by record company executives and radio programmers.

Instances of censorship involved different types of objections — profanity, politics, sacrilege, sexual content, drug abuse, even commercial product mentions.  Radio programmers typically said they were worried of running afoul of decency laws or offending powerful interests, but more often than not, they were just as concerned about losing revenues from advertisers or local retailers who refused to be associated with a song’s edgy lyrical content.

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Separating the wheat from the chaff

Beginning in 1968, around the age of 13, I started buying albums.  A lot of albums.  I averaged roughly an album a week — about 50 every year — for two decades, amassing a collection of more than 1,000 LPs.

I like to think I had a pretty solid track record of buying seriously great, consistently strong albums.  A precious few were truly flawless; many had mostly top-shelf stuff with two or three throwaway tracks; others were about 50-50 worthwhile/worthless.  But I must concede that there were at least 100 LPs in my collection that qualify as real duds — LPs that turned out to be, at best, clear disappointments or, at worst, dismal failures.

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