August 19, 2008

James Taylor Has Censorship In His Mind

I've liked James Taylor for as long as I can remember. After all, I grew up on the music of the 60s and 70s, so when I hear a lot of those songs they take me right back to my childhood days.

I used to own a CD called James Taylor: Greatest Hits. It's a great collection, though lacking some of his well-played songs such as Walking Man (which was included on Volume 2).

A few years back Warner released The Best of James Taylor, a 20-song collection all on one disc, which includes just about every great James Taylor song there is. Hooray for me!

But there is one oddity about this album, something that really bugs me...censorship.

The live version of Steamroller has a curse at the end of the song, the only time I know of that James Taylor uses adult language in a song. Steamroller was also included on the earlier collection, but there it was unedited. For some reason, on this new collection, either the power-that-be at WB or J.T. himself have deemed it inappropriate to exist in its original form. They have dubbed over the word...and did a very poor job of it at that. The dubbing is very obvious, it's jarring to the human ear. They may as well have inserted the old-timey BEEP.

Here's how the song originally went:
...This here low down
No where
Half life
Freeze dried
Fat fried
Chicken chokin' motherfucking cocaine
[audience cheers wildly at blatant use of profanity]...

Now, here's the much improved, newer version:
...This here low down
No where
Half life
Freeze dried
Fat fried
Chicken chokin' motherFLUBocaine
[audience cheers wildly, clearly awed by the clever editing job]...

That is literally how bad it sounds, I listened to the cut several times to get it just so. I've heard dubbing done well and poorly, but this ranks as worst among the worst. They may as well have hired a voice actor from a non-english speaking country to say something like 'Mother loves race day', the edit is really that bad.

The edit itself is senseless. Just how many fans were out there complaining about that one word in one of his songs? If it was so offensive, why even include it in the new collection at all?


Blogger Jenn said...

Yeah...if you've listened to any radio station, you'll hear a lot of that. The song that really comes to mind is that song with Kid Rock where he's singing about "cocaine and whisky" and they dubb out cocaine. They also do it with a number of words in Nickel Back songs.

So either JT is figuring that it's best not to talk about drugs, he's decided that it wasn't a good space for him and he wishes that he'd never said it, or it's the WB and the FCC policing what they think we should hear.

Ever noticed the old Warner Brother's cartoons on Nickelodeon? Someone decided that a certain word was offensive or that certain cartoons were offensive and they edited them to pieces or just don't show them any more.

All I know is that I'm really tired of hearing dead air, bad dubbing, or beeps.

That doesn't mean that I want the air waves polluted with vulgarities, I just think that some words like "cocaine" are not offensive. The "f" bomb on the other hand...has lost its shock value. Back when Taylor did was shocking. Now people use it like the word "it".

8:21 AM  
Blogger Rothar said...

Yeah, unfortunately you're absolutely right. Ever since the 'wardrobe malfunction', and the PTC & FCC over-reaction, I've been seeing lots and lots of censorship all over the place.

On the radio, just about every Pearl Jam song now is edited (and the guy mumbles to boot, I never even realized there was profanity in those songs!) Then there's Pink Floyd's 'Money', which I've been listening to since it came out on vinyl and 8-track, which now has an edit where Gilmour says 'do-goody-goody bullshit' (that has never been edited before and it's pretty obvious).

On TV, I've seen them edit some really strange stuff. There's one episode of Futurama I caught a little while ago, where Prof. Fry exclaims 'Sweet Zombie Jesus!' - classic line! Instead, the Prof's lips moved, but not a sound came out. Not a beep, not some other stuff overdubbed, just silence.

Hell, during one of the last Superbowls they had the Rolling Stones play (it was televised in, not in the same stadium, but we're talking about the STONES here!) Their short set list included 'Start Me Up' and their newest song, 'Rough Justice', which has the line "Once upon a time I was your little rooster, But now I'm just one of your cocks."

Both songs were edited. Yup, I said both.

They bleeped out 'cocks' in Rough Justice. And now what could they possibly bleep out of Start Me Up, you ask? Well, in one part of the song towards the end Jagger sings "You make a dead man come." Yep, bleeped.

All this censorship stuff really raises my hackles, because it's just done so unevenly. And a lot of the time the stuff they edit out is harmless. I mean, I really like Nine Inch Nails, but I'm not going to argue at all about editing 'Closer' (the "I want to fuck you like an animal" song). But the stuff I mentioned above and James Taylor's bullshit, that just pisses me off.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Rothar said...

Especially since James Taylor has edited his own song. It's not on the radio or being broadcast, it's on a CD! WTF is that?

8:39 AM  

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