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.
Much 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.