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Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Shh, Randy! Not in front of the children!


I listen to a lot of hip hop and rap – and I have a few rules about it. I never play it with other people’s kids in the car, and my kids and I have had plenty of discussions about the inappropriate attitudes or swearing and they even understand the issues around the “N” word.  My 11 year old informed me he’d refer to Ni**as in Paris as ‘Track 3’ and he was quite horrified when he heard it on the radio “But Mum, what will they say when they back announce it? (eyes wide in alarm) What will they CALL it?”
So I thought nothing when I dug out the Randy Newman Songbook CD – lovely, melodic grand piano sing-a-long music…or so I thought.
My 8 year old had endless questions – “Why does he love money so much?” (It’s Money that I Love), “Why did they kill them if they were gay?” (Great Nations of Europe), “How can they be holy if they kill people like that?” (Great Nations of Europe) and midway through Rednecks, “Why do you like this guy? He’s weird.”  (I did realise Rednecks is TOTALLY inappropriate but it’s so catchy I can’t help it. I thought I could explain it but I failed miserably. )
He’s not weird, he’s clever and a satirist. He points out the hypocrisies of mankind, and that is harder to explain to a child than a few warnings about swear words and offensive or sexist/racist words. There is apparently some age when you don’t get it, and then you magically do, that concept that what the words are saying, and what the songwriter actually thinks are not the same.
Kids hear and see such adult things these days - I hated that Katy Perry could sing about getting so drunk she blacked out and having a three way and every little girl merrily sings along. Jesse J says not to dress like a 'ho' and that gets beeped out. What do our kids make of all this? I don't know what to make of it!
For the record, by the time I got to Leave your Hat on, I just pressed skip. Even I wasn’t brave enough to go there.  Political Science, on the other hand, I loved as a kid.  It came out in ’72 but I didn’t hear it until after Short People (I was slightly nuts about Newman as an 8 year old.) I figure if I could understand it was a joke at 8 (in the less savvy '70's), then my kids can too. Otherwise I’ll just have to dig out his Toy Story soundtrack….at least I KNOW those songs are safe!

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12 comments:

  1. At the risk of making myself sound a bit slow, I took Randy Newman's "short people" literally as a child. I think its OK to play his edgier stuff around your kids. It's not like its obscene and it will make them think.
    Great post.

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  2. I remember my neice staying with us when she was a teen. She came with us on the school drop off for year 1 kids and she had tuned the radio. Half way through a song she looked at me and started trying to reset the station! She'd already learned that 6 year olds have more questions than a teenager wants to answer :D
    And it's not just songs. When my daughter was about 8, every day about 10 minustes after primary school finished there would be an advert for errection problems - and not the building sort. If an 8 yo thinks it's weird, what were the advert space people on the radio thinking? Feral007

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  3. I torture my kids with Carpenters so Randy Newman isn't that bad because at least, as Mumabs mentioned, it gets them thinking. And isn't he the dude who wrote the songs for Toy Story?

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  4. Hip-hop artists are just plain inconsiderate to parents with CD players in their cars, aren't they? Driving my 6 year old to swimming last week, I managed to listen to Kendrick Lamar by adjusting the volume so that the music could be heard in the back but the lyrics were just too soft to hear.

    Kids are definitely sponges - my 4 year old daughter can recite most of the recent Tegan and Sara album. However, she "mondegreens" some of the girl-on-girl lyrics, which is fine by me!

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  5. Music and kids can be hard can't it? I'm constantly grabbing the volume dial in the car to censor out swearing and other unsavoury lyrics. I do think though that if the artist is a satirist and is making a statement about society or hypocrisy then this can be a great discussion point with kids old enough to grasp the concepts.

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  6. We have our car radio tuned permanently to classic fm. Get some brain cells working in those little heads. Sometimes I mix it up with jazz or Latino beats. I certainly wouldn't want to try to explain Emininem (or today's equivalent) to my kids!

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  7. It's all playschool songs for us at the moment - ever tried to explain to a 3 year old why he might get a big surprise if he goes out in the woods & finds a bunch of 'teddy bears having a picnic'!! ;) haha!! Big Randy Newman fan here too!

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  8. It doesn't need to be hip hop to be problematic for little ears. My Miss 6 is all about Taylor Swift and Jessie J and I have just as much trouble explaining the lyrics! I have to say I don't listen to much Randy Newman though.

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  9. There is a meme getting around that says you don't realise how sexual a song is until you hear a kid sing it and it's so true!

    Thanks for linking up with us at The Lounge

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  10. I hate to say it but I've not listened to Randy Newman before but from your post I think I would like him. It's funny how even now, as an adult, I hear songs that I used to sing along to as a kid and I only now get them and are shocked by what they are actually singing about!

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  11. I still get concerned at some of the lyrics I hear kids singing..so inappropriate and as a retired teacher made me sad to see teachers even 'thinking' about using some of these songs in concerts!! Happy New Year Lydia xx

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  12. There was some song that said "really nice sex" and the word sex was not bleeped as such, but muffled out. And I thought, but that's not a rude word! It wasn't being used in a negative context... it's just a thing that happens in life.

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