THE EVOLUTION OF SONG LYRICS

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Remember the times when it was all about love: sweet, faithful, ever-lasting love?

If you do, you’re getting old.

It’s been a long way from “I want to hold your hand” to “We might not get tomorrow / Let’s do it tonight!”… The reality hasn’t changed that much; at the time The Beatles sang the cute song with the above title, they were in Hamburg, Germany, doing drugs, pulling all-nighters at clubs and allegedly having more groupies they could handle. The ’60s and the ’70s were probably the most decadent decades in recent history, when it comes to relationships and sexuality. It totally beats me how they managed to produce some of the most beautiful song lyrics (along with lots of unplanned babies). The ’80s got a bit further – into sickeningly sweet, knee-bending, heart-melting ballads. It was all pure bliss even in the ’90s – until the 21st century rolled in.

A sampler? Here it is:
    “Look into my eyes, you will see
      What you mean to me
      Search your heart, search your soul
      And when you find me there you’ll search no more”
            Bryan Adams (“Everything I Do…”)

                        “I am a man who will fight for your honor
                         I’ll be the hero that you’ve been dreaming of
                         We’re gonna live forever
                         Knowing together that we did it all for the glory of love”
                                Peter Cetera (“For the Glory of Love”)

                                        “So close, no matter how far
                                         Couldn’t be much more from the heart
                                         Forever  trust in who we are
                                         And nothing else matters”
                                                 Metallica (“And Nothing Else Matters”)
                                        
                                                          “Love me tender, love me sweet
                                                            Never let me go
                                                            You have made my life complete
                                                            And I love you so”
                                                                Elvis Presley (“Love Me Tender”)

You don’t even need to see them – and they were so handsome! – to fall head-over-heels in love with those guys! Just the same way as men are all visual, we women can go crazy hearing things like that. It’s true. I would have had a thing for Bryan Adams even if he looked like Danny De Vito – after all the sap he has produced over the past 35 years! I was this close to chaining myself to his boat in Plattsburgh a few years ago, just to meet him. Not kidding.

Now let’s review what’s on these days.

I was driving my little daughters and a friend of theirs (all between the ages of six and nine), when I got a bit of a jolt from the song playing on the radio:
    “If happy-ever-after did exist
      I would still be holding you like this
      All those fairy tales are full of it
      One more stupid love song, I’ll be sick”
            Maroon 5 (“Payphone”)
This was actually funny, coming from three little girls, singing along at the top of their lungs. By the way, “stupid” is the family-friendly version for radio, while in the video the word is “f***ing”. I’ll leave it to you to guess the original word replaced by “it”. This song would never have made it to the top in 1963. Or 1983.

Don’t get me wrong: I love Maroon 5, their edge and their talent. Just comparing, not judging!

Not convinced? How about the oldest, lamest drunken pickup line about only living once, the only reality being right now, and tomorrow not being granted to us? I swear, it’s the only thing you hear these days, in every hit, on every station:
    “For all we know we might not get tomorrow
    Lets do it tonight
    Grab somebody sexy tell ’em hey
    Give me everything tonight”
        NE-YO (“Give Me Everything”)
Awww, turns out it’s not even you – it’s just anybody in your immediate grabbing area! Now doesn’t this make you feel special?

               “Baby let’s do it right now
                Baby let’s do it right now
                Baby let’s do it  right now
                Baby let’s do it right now
                I got the time – I got the love
                Baby I’m a rubber cement man
                Baby won’t you do it with your hand…”
                            Bad Examples (“Rubber Cement Man”)
 
I don’t know about you, but my heart is melting. And the English teacher in me is weeping.

And I’m not even going into the hard-core rap. It’s today’s regular, mass media blasting all this, bleeping a word here and there, just to attract some more attention to the fact that the soundtrack of our lives has become one big swearing, cursing, ghetto-inspired work of art.

Makes you nostalgic for the time when The Rolling Stones could only sing “Let’s spend SOME TIME together” because “Let’s spend the night together” was too raunchy for prime-time TV; or the scandal caused by Jim Morrison when he dared sing “Girl, we couldn’t get much HIGHER” on live TV, before delays and recording took care of the decency required (and wardrobe malfunctions).

I love teaching English with songs: they have the real everyday modern language in them, help the students improve their listening comprehension, bring some fun into a classroom, and can be used to practice grammar and spelling…

I’m far from being a prude. I’m not preaching or
pretending to be overly shocked.
But the guy who tries to impress me or my daughters with this kind of lyrics had better watch out.

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