Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tipper Gore Took On Zappa and Prince

I see Tipper Gore is in the news. As some of you remember I am a frequent Democrat basher but not here and not now. I am sad when any marriage dissolves. Tipper and Al were only celebrating their 40th anniversary two weeks ago. I found out my parents marriage was over one month before their 30th anniversary.

You may not know too many people like me but I heard of Tipper Gore before I heard of Al. In the mid 80's in a day when the phrase "gangsta rap " did not exist. People like Judas Priest , Ozzy Osborne and Prince were controversial for the words in their songs. The weird thing is in Canada we had Maclean and Maclean who were pretty much under the radar. Maybe because they were too Canadian to ever cross the 49th parallel culturally. What I mean by that is they were obscene but their jokes were really meant for Canadians so Americans had no idea who they were.

Tipper's story is that she was appalled by the lyrics in a song called Darling Nikki. I will not quote them here but the audio is below courtesy of Youtube. Prince I have known of since I first heard the hit "I Wanna Be Your Lover" back in 1980. Even back then this guy was genius. Playing almost all the instruments in his record. Let's forward five years later to 1985 when Prince was at his commercial peak. Tipper's 11 year old daughter had the Purple Rain record. Things are different now in 2010 with digital technology but back then you had to be 18 to rent Quest for Fire or any other R Rated movie in the video store. But there were no such measures for records and cassette tapes.

Here is where it starts to get dicey. I completely understand a mother of an 11 year old being alarmed by what her daughter was in possession of. Tipper had no intention of telling Prince what to sing about. What she wanted was a ratings system and for all lyrics to be printed on the back cover of all records. So that a parent could make a quick assessment what their child could be listening to. So calling what she wanted to do censorship would not be accurate in my book. Prince can be Prince. She just felt parents had the right to make an informed decision on what words were going into their kids' ears. Ironically the album Purple Rain is a powerful work of music. A truly magnificent listen from start to finish. Mixture of funk, soul, rock. I can not recommend it enough. Unless of course you are Tipper Gore's daughter. Who would be about 36 now.

Count Youtube as one thing where first impressions do not count. I was not a fan at first then the more I blogged and the more I had to reference things, Youtube became among other things a very important historical tool. For those of you interested in this 25 year old debate I included Dee Snider and the very articulate Frank Zappa making their points. Ironically the guy who started all this (Prince) renounced his raunchy behavior and became a Jehovah's Witness.

I think this topic is worth looking at from the opposing views. Although I want to end it like this. People have the right to listen to rap music. People have the right to perform rap music. But I have a right to declare that rap lyrics are worth less than a balance statement of a Bernie Madoff investment. It's all about bragging , violence, misogyny, and the whole notion that to make ones self feel better the other side has to be degraded.

I don't believe in Pravda type censorship even if morons have greater access to the public.


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