What Lady Gaga Taught Me About Innocence

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Song lyrics are the bane of my life at the moment.

I have already written about my angst over Katy Perry and her songs.

Twice.

In fact, the more pop songs enter my world, the more I’m becoming freaked out by them.

I don’t usually listen to lyrics.

I’m sure exquisite yearnings of epic love songs have completely passed me by as I’ve travelled through life but I’ve managed to get to middle-age despite this.

If I do listen to the words, I can’t make them out.

I’ve learned recently, corrected by my children, that what I hear is completely wrong and complete nonsense (as if today’s lyrics were poetry of Shakespearean proportions.)

What is, in fact, ‘Baby, I’ll be bulletproof,’ I hear as ‘Mummy, I’m Babe Ruth.’ And so on.

Not a talent of mine.

My kids are at an age where they want the radio on and they want to dance.

And I’m simply not sure how to keep this music out.

But when I don’t, I’m appalled by what I hear – songs of violent arguments, raps about abuse, sex and more sex.

Which brings me to Lady Gaga…

I don’t know much about Lady Gaga but I’m learning.

I know she’s out-Madonna’d Madonna, and she wore a meat dress, although I’m not quite sure what her message was there. I know her music videos are, according to my kids, ‘disturbing.’

I do know the lyrics to her songs make me cringe.

I know all about her disco stick and her poker face and her bad girl meat.

The reason I know this is because I read the little booklet that comes with her CD.

I knew straightaway I wasn’t going to like it because the font size was so small that parents couldn’t possibly read the words without their reading glasses.

The reason I read the lyrics is because while deciphering them isn’t a skill of mine, it is one that, if it were paid, my kids would quickly be able to support me with.

One in particular is a whizz at understanding and remembering lyrics; it is astounding.

So it was inevitable that I found myself in one of those cringeworthy parenting moments. We were in Wholefoods and they kept singing the chorus of Lady Gaga’s ‘I Like It Rough.’

In case you don’t know, the chorus just repeats that phrase over and over (seems like it anyway) in a rather melodic way that is strangely comforting.

When we got home and were putting the groceries away, they carried on and on. In the end I couldn’t stand any more and decided to address it.

Just sort of casual-like.

‘You know those words? They’re rather rude. I don’t think Nanna would like them.’

I’m not sure that was a terribly PC thing to say but my higher neurological thought processes had abandoned me.

‘Rude?’

‘Yes, what do you think those words mean?’

They turned around and looked at me. They paused. They looked at each other like I was one weird mother.

Camping.

That was their answer. Straight up. Camping.

They thought ‘I like it rough’ was all about Boy Scouts.

What’s rude about camping? For the second time this weekend, I had no words.

‘Nothing,’ I answered quickly, ‘nothing at all. Camping is a perfectly healthy, positive endeavor to be enjoyed by all.’ (Note the irony.)

And with that they returned to putting the groceries away, none the wiser.

Until they are much older and something triggers their thoughts back to this day when they thought ‘roughing it’ meant campfires, singalongs, tents and s’mores.

And I claimed a small, undoubtedly temporary, victory against an industry that seems to be stomping all over my family values and over which I seemingly have no discernible defense.

What do you do about music? How can I balance my need to protect them and their need to fit in? Or are they innocent (and it goes over their heads) until they are not? Please let me know in the comments!

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Shawn Christenson October 25, 2010 at 4:45 pm

Honestly Alison, for me at this point all I can do is hark back to when I was young and how I feel it affected me. And I don’t think it did – but i’m not normal.

I loved Green Day and The Smashing Pumpkins because it spoke to me. The music that is – I never listened to the lyrics. My parents told me how dark and depressing the lyrics were and I wasn’t so sure because when I listened I felt great!

Now – how will I be in 8 years when my daughter is 10? I dunno really. But the best thing i’ll be able to do is look at myself when I was little and see if I can remember how it affected me.

Now music VIDEOS is another story. Many of those really get close to crossing lines we don’t know where to place.
Shawn Christenson recently posted..Jaime Tardy – Entrepreneur CoachMy Profile

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Alison Golden October 26, 2010 at 11:10 am

Hi Shawn!

Good to see you here. I totally understand when you say depressing songs don’t depress you. If the tune is good, so am I. And I hope you’re right, that everything is flying over their head at the moment. It just feels wrong though. These sweet, innocent kids contrasted with the ugly/provocative language of the music. Difficult to reconcile as a parent.

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Darlene October 26, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Lyrics of songs DO have control over the minds of the people that listen to them.
Very good topic you decided to write about.
Make many people conscious about this effect that they usually would never give importance to.

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Alison Golden October 26, 2010 at 7:15 pm

Hi Darlene!

Good to see you back. I enjoy getting your perspective. Interesting opinions. 😉

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Mary E. Ulrich
Twitter:
October 27, 2010 at 5:20 am

Alison–I love your kids. The line about camping is an absolute CLASSIC!

I think you are doing a great job showing how Warrior Women (like yourself) are defending their values and dealing with the cultural icons like Lady Gaga.

Fun post, made me laugh… and taught a valuable lesson. GREAT JOB!
Mary E. Ulrich recently posted..Building Community: one grocery trip at a timeMy Profile

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Alison Golden October 28, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Thanks, Mary 🙂 I think I need full body armor to protect us all from the likes of LG and KP.

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Gary Jordon November 25, 2010 at 4:59 pm

Hi Allison Let’s face it this doesn’t sound like the wholesome lyrics of John Denver or philosophical lyrics of some of the old Styx. I don’t listen to the stuff stopped listening to pop music as a teenager in the mid 80’s. It didn’t resonate with me. As such I haven’t got a clue as to how bad it has become. But suspect it is worse then I think

Depending on how old your two kids are these lyrics or anything else for that matter can I have heard program a person’s autopilot. That is important because over 90% of what we do is done apparently by automatic pilot.

So my sense is you did a good job. But maybe at a conscious level they here it as involving camping. I thought the lyrics to John Denver’s Annie’s Song were about friendship as a small child not about romantic love. So it may be both.

I tend to think that the mega-corporations are using these facts to program us to do their bidding. I know its kinda cynical but they do how the means and the motive to do the deed.

At any rate Have a great Thanksgiving and try not to let them get to you with the garbage.

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Alison Golden November 26, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Thanks, Gary!

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Martha February 10, 2011 at 10:57 pm

Love this post!

So, I have a 11 year-old who sings. She sings pretty well actually and is often a hit at our annual school talent show. Two years ago she wanted to sing the Taylor Swift song “Should’ve Said No” in front of a room of elementary school parents. I said no and left it at that. She sung something more appropriate instead. Last year she asked again. This time I told her, much, much more clearly, WHY it was inappropriate. She didn’t ask again. Smart girl.

This year maybe Katy Perry’s Fireworks? She does a decent job with it and the lyrics are relatively innocent…and could be interpreted as positive. http://www.directlyrics.com/katy-perry-firework-lyrics.html

What do you think?

P.S. Personally, I like Katy Perry…but to hear one’s 8 year old daughter singing “I kissed a girl and I liked it” is a bit unnerving. I swear I don’t listen with her around! But I’ll take that over “I wanna take a ride on your disco stick” any day. Yes, the younger one sings too.

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Alison Golden February 11, 2011 at 7:03 pm

I wouldn’t have let her sing that song either, Martha.

Katy Perry released ‘Firework’ soon after I wrote this post. I think it’s fine, inspirational, actually. She reads this blog. Obviously. 😉

Good luck – with two singers in the family, you’ll need it!

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Lori
Twitter:
May 12, 2011 at 3:25 pm

I personally am a lyrics hound. I have been known to fall in love with a melody and then realize that the lyrics are disturbing or against my values, and then that song is dead to me. I sing absolutely horribly, and NEVER in front of people, but I have to be able to belt out a tune in the car with no regret. 😉 As for my kids, I share lyrics with them and we talk about what they mean – at age appropriate levels. My kids are 9 and 10. There have been a few songs that I have had to just say, “That’s inappropriate for you to sing, sweetie, and I don’t want you listening to it.” So far they don’t argue about it. They know how much I love music, and they pretty much go with my judgment. At least at this age… 😉

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b2curious February 10, 2015 at 1:34 pm

I don’t worry too much about what my girls listen to – or more accurately what the oldest (age 20) listened to when she was younger, or what her 12-yr-old sister listens to now. I remember the songs I listened to when I was growing up and how little I understood some of those lyrics. I listened to the likes of Prince – “Little Red Corvette” was released when I was 13, and “Darling Nikki” when I was 14. I had no idea what some of the things he was singing about in those songs really were. As I got older, I listened to harder rock, which is still my primary genre of choice, but I enjoy pop too. I love the stereotypical rock songs – about “sex, drugs [and drinking], and rock and roll. But I really don’t see that they’ve affected my behavior much. I’m not promiscuous. At 45, I can still count the number of men I’ve been with on one hand, I’ve never done recreational drugs, and I’ve never been much of a drinker or partier. I do my best to raise my girls right, and keep tabs on them, and not worry too much about the music. And if you want disturbing lyrics – try some Rob Zombie. I’m partial to “Dragula,” “Living Dead Girl,” and “Superbeast.”

Now, different music affects people differently. A few years ago, when my oldest still lived at home, we were both in the kitchen working one evening. We were listening to music on my phone, so it was primarily hard rock. After about 10 minutes, she asked if we could listen to something else because hard rock tends to make her angry. She found a J-Pop (Japanese pop) station on my music app. It was very upbeat, both the music and lyrics. After just a few minutes, my temper started to build. After a few more minutes, I said “We need to listen to something else before I kill someone.” So she found a dubstep (which I was unfamiliar with) station, and we were both happy.

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