When I was in fifth grade, I was subjected to censorship.
My mother made it clear that I was not to sing the lyrics to Nick Gilder's hit "Hot Child in the City." The song, which peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard top singles chart in the summer of 1978, was a catchy, glam-rock tune that, to this day, finds its way into my head.
My mom hated the song because it was about a girl who was "running wild and lookin' pretty."
"If you listen to the words, it's about bad things," she said.
I know she was trying to protect me from harmful lyrics. And I'm sure having an 11-year-old singing "hot child in the city" over and over probably drove her crazy.
But in reality, that song's content was the least of her worries. She never heard the 1973 song "Stickball," by Rod McKuen. (Not the Rod McKuen who wrote songs for Universal Movies in the 1950s and 1960s.) That record, which my stepfather let me listen to when I was 13, would give even the explicit sexual lyrics by 2 Live Crew a run for their money.
Anyway, I bring up the topic of banned music because I attended Plan-B Theatre Company's ". . . and the Banned Played On," at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center on Monday.
The event, which served as the company's "annual fund-raiser celebrating the First Amendment," was funny, educational and thought-provoking.
Hosted by X-96's "Radio from Hell" crew Kerry Jackson, Bill Allred and Gina Barberi the production was more a music concert than anything else.
The Rev. Tom Goldsmith of First Unitarian Church and Peter Corroon, Salt Lake County mayor, started things by reading a partial list of songs banned by media giant Clear Channel in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001. The actual wording was "songs deemed inappropriate" for radio play.
The two set the mood as they read titles, including Peter, Paul & Mary's "Leaving on a Jet Plane," John Lennon's "Imagine," Louis Armstong's "It's a Wonderful World," the Beatles' "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," Kansas' "Dust in the Wind," Jerry Lee Lewis' "Great Balls of Fire" and Neil Diamond's "America," to name a few.
Rodney Carter, known in the area as Diamondmania, a Neil Diamond tribute show, sang "America." Aaron Swenson revived his character from "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" and sang Olivia Newton-John's No. 1 hit "Physical," a song that was banned by radio stations in Orem back in 1981. And City Weekly associate editor Bill Frost donned his cowboy hat and guitar for Bob Dylan's "Talking John Birch Paranoid Blues."
Jeanette Puhich revived her Yitzak role from "Hedwig" to sing the infamous Kingsmen hit "Louie Louie," a song that was deemed so obscene back in 1963 that the FBI got involved but, after years of study, dropped the case because the lyrics were indecipherable.
One of the most poignant moments at Monday's event was Egyptian Theatre Company's Kenneth Wayne's performance of "I Don't Know How to Love Him," from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's groundbreaking "Jesus Christ Superstar."
Even the Saliva Sisters got in the act with "Sodomy," from the musical "Hair" and their Beatles' "Day Tripper" parody, which became "Gay Mormon," which got them banned at an area Media Play when they were promoting their album.
While the atmosphere was light-hearted, the production made me think about the First Amendment and what responsibilities I have as a parent.
I grew up with artists, dancers, actors and musicians. I know the importance of freedom of expression, especially when it comes to art. (Yes, I know that art to one person isn't necessarily art to another, but that's another column.)
At the same time, as a parent I know how important it is to make sure my children are protected from material not suitable for their viewing and listening pleasures.
Still, and this is the point I want to make, it's my job as a parent not the government's or Clear Channel's to censor what my kids listen to or watch, until they are old enough to make their own choices.
I understand what my mother was doing when she told me to never sing "Hot Child in the City." I do the same thing with my kids.
But it's not Nick Gilder that I forbid. It's Britney Spears.
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