Suggestive song lyrics — yesterday and today

car stereo dialIt’s not easy being a GenX parent. So much has changed from the decades dominated by the free-range parenting style. I even had the idea to start a special feature about how much harder it is for parents these days, and I get ideas all the time. I’ve just been too lazy to put them into thoughtful posts.

Take for example song lyrics. Considering that music-oriented pop culture is introduced at younger ages these days, and that Miley Cyrus seems to have no limit to what she is willing to do onstage or say in interviews, one might suggest that this is another way in which GenX parents have been burdened with yet another hazard to circumvent.

I’m not sure this is true. As a kid, I heard an ample number of suggestive songs on the pop music stations of my ultra-conservative hometown. (I lived in one of the markets where George Michael’s late-80s hit was, “I Want Your Love.”)

Let’s take a look at yesterday and today through the lens of risqué lyrics.

Today: “Get Lucky” — Daft Punk
Yesterday: “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” — Rod Stewart

It’s a lot easier to tell your kids “Get Lucky” is about visiting casinos in Monte Carlo than trying to explain the concept of sexy and how Rod Stewart could be considered as such. Throw in a rumor about what was found when Rod’s stomach was pumped, and out through the school bus window goes your 10-year-old’s innocence.

Today: “Can’t Feel My Face” — The Weekend
Yesterday: “Cocaine” — Eric Clapton

I am ready with my explanation. If they ask, I will tell my kids that The Weekend is talking about vampires. My supporting evidence is the line, At least we’ll both be beautiful and stay forever young. This may not be the most comforting interpretation, but it beats telling my kids the real story. I’d like to see a parent concoct an alternate meaning for what Clapton sang about.


Today: “Teenage Dream” — Katy Perry
Yesterday: “Afternoon Delight” — Starland Vocal Band

Eventually your kid is going to understand, Let’s go all the way tonight. No regrets, just love. But you can pretty much ignore it until that time. “Afternoon Delight,” though; it’s just so forthright in its ickiness. This song still makes me uncomfortable and embarrassed and all those things you feel when you finally realize what those feminine protection commercials are about. I seriously wonder if this song put a damper on daytime “escapades,” rather than encouraged them. My kids hate it when I sing along to, “Can’t Feel My Face.” They have no idea what my generation suffered hearing our moms singing “Afternoon Delight.”

Today: “Cool for the Summer” — Demi Lovato
Yesterday: “Like a Virgin” — Madonna

“Cool for the Summer” is stuffed with more innuendo than it takes to make Paul Stanley blush. But until kids have already been introduced to these concepts otherwise, the lyrics are explainable. (Really you should turn the song off due to extremely low artistic merit.) “Like a Virgin” has no innuendo. Madonna just puts it all out there. And you can’t turn the station when Madge is on.


Today: “Animals” — Maroon 5
Yesterday: “Sexual Healing” — Marvin Gaye

So the same hometown stations that refused to play “I Want Your Sex,” had no problem putting “Sexual Healing” into heavy rotation. That aside, it’s hard to come up with an innocent twist on a line like, Let’s make love tonight. Wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up. ‘Cause you do it right. The most egregious of lines from “Animals” can’t compare.

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What is Rod Stewart really trying to say?

Is there really an American Songbook III by Rod Stewart?

Is there really a Great American Songbook III by Rod Stewart? On of the songs on the album is “Isn’t It Romantic?” I guess Rod learned a thing or two about love since “Hot Legs.”

The push-pull between misogyny and female worship in rock music is classic. If you listen to lyrics from some songs, it’s hard to consider how someone had the nerve to sing them, let alone put them down on paper. And sometimes I end up laughing out loud imaging such words stripped of their melodious backdrop and left alone to be judged on their own merits.

This morning, it was Rod Stewart’s “Hot Legs” that put me in this frame of mind.

Who’s that knocking on my door? It’s gotta be quarter to four. Is it your, my friend, coming ’round for more? Hmmm… so someone is seeking something he has, at a time to seems to be rather inconvenient. And by “quarter to four,” does he mean a.m. or p.m.? This would reveal a lot.

You can love me tonight if you want. But in the morning make sure you’re gone. Ok, question answered, though if he said a.m. in the first place, “love” would have been one of my three guesses as to what this visitor sought. Yet, he tells this person to leave in the morning, so how long does he think this is going to take? Because sunrise is on its way.

I’m talking to you. Hot legs… wearing me out. Hot legs… you can scream and shout. Hot legs… are you still in school? I love you honey. Clearly he wants us to think that this woman is young, because I don’t think he’s talking about graduate school. Yet, he never does refer to his visitor as female, so I guess I am making some assumptions with this one.

Got a most persuasive tongue. You promise all kinds of fun. But what you don’t understand… I’m a working man. Are we supposed to believe that Rod is concerned about his ability to concentrate on the job after his early-morning rendezvous with Hottie? Perhaps he wants us to think of him as a responsible individual who’s considering the big picture of this encounter. But, given his indications that he thinks Hottie might be a minor, I’m not buying it at this point.

Hot legs… you’re an alley cat. Hot legs… you scratch my back.  Hot legs… bring your mother too. I love you honey. Really? Hottie’s mother? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

It gets worse…

Imagine how my daddy felt… in your jet black suspender belt. Seventeen years old… he’s touching sixty-four. There are so many ways one can go with this, and none of them bode well for Rod, in my opinion. Either Hottie is a paid professional or Rod’s dad is a better-looking dude at 64 than Rod is at whatever age he’s supposed to be in the song. The best-case-scenario is that his dad is young-at-heart (as in he’s 17 years old and just shy of 64). But with these parental references, I don’t think Rod has a chance of wooing anyone with these lyrics at this point.

As the song wraps up, Rod goes on to tell Hottie to keep her hands to herself and asks a couple of more times if she’s still in school. Ultimately, he does admit to her that she’s making him a fool. And that’s the most truthful thing I heard in the entire three-plus minutes that I subjected myself to this song. One can only hope that this was a sarcastic message from Rod to his fellow songwriters about the perils of chauvinistic rock-n-roll cliches.

I must add that the flip side to “Hot Legs” in the UK was “I Was Only Joking,” so perhaps Rod just had a cheeky sense of humor all along.

You know you are old when Maggie May is younger than you

The other day I was shopping at Trader Joe’s.  As I entered, they were playing Duran Duran (yea!).  As I exited, they were playing “Maggie May,” and one of the lines stuck in my head as I pushed my cart out the door toward my grocery-getter.  “The morning sun when it’s in your face really shows your age.”

And that’s when I realized… I am older than Maggie May.

I don’t know this for certain.  Though I have read numerous biographies of rock musicians and digested the entire VH-1 Behind the Music series, I know relatively little about Rod Stewart and his music.  I know that “Maggie May” is about a young(er) man’s relationship with an older woman.  But, I am surmising that Maggie May is probably something like 30.  My guess is that she isn’t in her 40s.  I don’t get the impression it’s a Mrs. Robinson thing.  My take is that she is an older hot chick who gives the guy an opportunity to put some things on hold in his life so that he can just embrace being a young adult or avoid growing up.  And, as things like this typically transpire, it doesn’t end well.

My first thought was, “My God.  I never thought I’d ever be older than Maggie May!”

Rod Stewart was involved in several situations in my life when I became aware of things for the first time, and among them was the idea that this kind of thing with the young guy and the older woman can happen.  It wasn’t shocking to me, but I had never really thought of things that way.  And because I was a dutiful teenager, I was mystified that this guy would leave school to hang out with an older woman.  And what was this 30-year-old doing with a kid?  I thought, “Who’d want to be a part of that scene?”

I see the story through a different lens now.  To midlife me, the guy is just a boy… as confused as anyone is in their very early-20s, and I have sympathy for him.  Maggie is scrambling to hang on to that last shred of youth, and I can appreciate the angst when the years force you forward, even when you don’t want to go there.

Please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong about Maggie’s age.  It might be a bit of relief to know that I have a few more years before I pass her.  But, I know it’s inevitable.

(This YouTube still includes a cool little intro to the song that we don’t get to hear on the radio or grocery story sound systems.  Check it out.)