ICPL is currently celebrating Banned Books Week and we have a strong history of supporting people’s Freedom to Read. As the music selector, the theme this week has also made me reflect on how amazing it is that the U.S. still creates lyrically censored versions of music because “won’t somebody please think of the children“. The National Coalition Against Censorship created a great list last year of 40 banned and censored songs that I felt needed to be shared as an ICPL display with a vintage shot of Tipper Gore and the Parents Music Resource Center.
There were some surprises on their list, I never would have guessed someone would have a censorship concern about Phil Collins! I definitely remember MTV censoring Tom Petty’s use of the word “joint” in “You Don’t Know How it Feels”, you can check out the original from us.
As a youngster, I was minimally affected by the PMRC and further outcry, though the summer after 4th grade my friend wasn’t allowed to get the Whitesnake cassette for me for my birthday because my mom told his mom it was too racy. Just imagine the person I might be today if I’d been able to rock out to “Here I Go Again” that summer! I recall being in Musicland just a few years later attempting to convince my Dad that the Parental Advisory label on the Tone Lōc cassette was probably put on by mistake. To his credit, he bought me that tape and I rapped along to “Cheeba Cheeba” blissfully unaware of what Tone was talking about. And while Tone Lōc might not be musically or historically interesting enough to warrant inclusion in the ICPL collection, I’m happy to report that we only purchase unaltered lyrical versions of other albums and leave the decision up to your household to decide what is appropriate. I highly recommend all parents take the risk and check out “Appetite for Destruction” for their kid(s), I learned an important 5th grade playground life lesson about swearing at classmates when parroting Axl from their song “It’s So Easy“! Feel free to share your own stories in the comments!