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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Love goes out the door when money comes innuendo

I can be so clueless about song lyrics. As I've said before on this blog, Radiohead's Thom Yorke could sing his grocery list and I wouldn't realize it until I read the lyrics. I'm always listening for the melodies and not trying to see if the lyrics make any sense. Well, it's recently come to attention that an AM gold hit that I grew up on is about one thing and one thing only. "This song is about daytime lovemaking," as legendary broadcaster Ron Burgundy says in his version, "the naughty type."

The song I'm referring to is "Afternoon Delight" by the Starland Vocal Band, a pop rock staple of the '70s. You still hear this song all the time, but here's the rather "Huh?" factor: parents complain all the time that there are so many sexual overtones in the modern music their children listen to while they make light of all the sexual references in the music they grew up on. Well, sorry, I ain't buying the "It was a different time" excuse anymore.

In the case of "Afternoon Delight," let's look at a couple of lines that leave nothing to the imagination:

Why wait until the middle of a cold dark night
When everything's a little clearer in the light of day

and
Thinkin' of you's workin' up my appetite
Looking forward to a little afternoon delight.
Rubbin' sticks and stones together makes the sparks ignite
and the thought of lovin' you is getting so exciting.

Growing up, I never pictured daytime lovemaking when I heard this song. As a matter of fact, I always thought this song was about having an afternoon snack at a picnic with fireworks shooting off in the sky. Well, just like the realization that Bryan Adams was not singing about the summer of 1969 in "Summer of '69," some imaginations get changed over time.

I know there are subtle ways and not-so-subtle ways about talking about sexual innuendo. Sometimes no innuendo is implied at all. I'm still convinced that "I Want to Hold Your Hand" is really about holding a person's hand. "Dancing Queen" is about a young dancing star. "Beat It" is about not fighting. Yet a song like "Go All the Way" by the Raspberries is about one thing and one thing only.

Am I missing something here, or were these songs ever thought of as controversial in their day? I know of plenty of songs that were controversial in their day because of supposed drug or sexual overtones ("Puff, the Magic Dragon" anyone?), but these days, they're thought of as totally harmless. Now I'm not trying to sound like some moral analyst here, but come on, why do parents flip out about a modern song that sings about "the nasty" while they are perfectly fine with "Afternoon Delight"?

3 comments:

fuzzbuzz said...

Today's language is so crude. What comes to mind is " I want to F* you like an animal"....now, ten years down the road you won't have a lightbulb go off over your head on that one. No fun! Theres nothing left to the imagination in today's music...except trying to figure out what the hell half of them are mumbling.

Jon said...

There's a great episode of "Arrested Development" about the sexual overtones of "Afternoon Delight."

Rj said...

someone beat me to mentioning arrested development.

Another song for you is "got to get you into my life" by the beatles. I read a biography about the beatles, where Paul says that this song is actually about marijuana. They had just smoked up for the first time with Bob Dylan, and Paul wrote the song.

Oh, and I felt like an old man the other week. My apartment complex was having pool party, and I stopped by to grab a free beer. They had a DJ there, and he was spinning some real crap.

One song he played must have been called "I'm in love with a stripper", because that is pretty much said over and over again as a "chorus". There were like thirty kids under the age of ten there. There were some older people there as well. I felt embarrased standing there drinking my free beer.