That Moment When You Really Think About Song Lyrics

I am a child of the 80’s so I grew up listening to a lot of great 70’s and 80’s music. Like any Dad I want my kids to enjoy and appreciate the same kind of music that I do. I’m no fan of Rap and I certainly don’t want my kids listening to it and so much of the new pop music is so heavily auto-tuned that anyone could sing it and sound good. When I’m in the car with the kids I usually try to find some of the old stuff on the iPod and let them listen to some “good” music.

The Police have always been one of my favorite bands, especially their early music. A few days ago while we were on the way home I pulled them up on the iPod and started playing tunes. The first few songs were some towards the end of the Ghost In The Machine album. The song Darkness ended and the next album started playing. Zenyatta Mondatta, one of the best, with hits on it like De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da and Don’t Stand So Close To Me who wouldn’t agree.

Don’t Stand So Close To Me started playing and I started singing along. The boys always get a kick out of it when I sing because it sounds awful and when is someone singing badly NOT funny?

About halfway through the song I actually started paying attention to the words I was saying and it happened….

“Temptation, frustration
So bad it makes him cry
Wet bus stop, she’s waiting
His car is warm and dry”

Wait a minute! Am I really singing about a teacher who is considering an inappropriate relationship with a student? In front of my kids? That can’t be right! Not The Police, I love those guys.

Music - Dads Round TableI quickly reached for the iPod and started up a podcast from NPR. Hopeful a story on bees or whales can undo some of the damage I have just done. The two older boys are six and seven and are really getting to the point of understanding what’s being said on the radio. To make matters worse I was singing those words, ME, DAD!

For the past few days I have stayed away from music and listened to podcasts while they are riding with me. I’m almost afraid to go back to my old favorites. When I do decide to play music again I guess I’ll have to quickly go through the whole song my head before I play it for them. We are so quick to condemn Rap as being inappropriate for our kids but the truth is we need to pay attention to everything this listen to, even our beloved 70’s and 80’s stuff.


The Beginning
About Christopher Neal

I am a happily married father of 3 active boys. Raising them while working a full time job as a law enforcement officer and part time as a web designer has it's challenges. I have blog, where I try to give my unique perspective on everyday life.

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  1. Shawn says:

    For sure. A few years ago, I was teaching Sunday School to some youth at church. Some kids say Hinder’s “Lips of An Angel” was his favorite song. I asked if he had any idea what it was about, and so we dissected the lyrics.

    I’m a Zeppelin fan first, and also MetallIcA, so any number of potential issues there when I’m at home. They also have plenty of great songs to highlight with neutral or positive messages, so I selectively choose them. My kids listen to a lot of country, because their mom has it on. I’ve pointed out lyrics in there more than a few times when the kids are singing along: “Do you know what you’re signing about?” I’m a recovering alcoholic; I’ve suggested to the kids that singing about drinking beer all night doesn’t lend itself to such great outcomes as the song suggests.

    When we’re in the car, we listen to a lot of XM radio and choose Kid’s Place Live! as the station of choice. I get XM for about $25 / 6 months. (Then I cancel, they call back and offer that price to me. It’s about $1 /week which seems to be the only fair price I am willing to pay.) KPL has a lot of great songs, with all fine messages (albeit silly) to the kids. I’ve even found myself 12 miles down the road after dropping them off and still having it on. And singing along with the radio… I admit it.

    If you don’t have XM, you can plug artists such as They Might Be Giants, Boxtop Jenkins, Recess Monkey, Tim & The Space Cadets into Pandora and get some great kid friendly stuff that doesn’t make you want to yank the keys out of the dash and stab yourself in the ears.

  2. When Aaron was six, the New Radicals “You Get What You Give” was huge. It had those last few lines “Fashion shoots with Beck and Hanson,
    Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson
    You’re all fakes, run to your mansions
    Come around, we’ll kick your ass in.”

    I explained that “ass” wasn’t a word that most people used in a nice way. He got it. I know this because he would ask permission to swear when the song came on so he could sing along. And he would sing that last line with great gusto, but we never had a problem with him cursing. Maybe those words become good teaching moments.

This is what I think...