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Monday, April 6, 2009

The needle and the damage done

Anthony Silicia
April 6th 2009
Foundations of Writing
COMP 1500 Section 1

The Needle and the Damage Done
By Anthony Sicilia
The reason why this argumentative essay is entitled, The Needle and the Damage Done, to symbolically suggest the damaging effects music can have in our society. It is understood that music is a form of expression through emotion. Music can motivate, it can empower, and it can also decide the effects of vocabulary. In this essay, the topics under discussion are; Social State, Psychological State, and Emotional State.

To explain reasons into how socially subculture music is recent interviewer, Frank Struth, has this to say, "Music can be a very powerful force, which can impact our mood and devotions. Our culture is really shaped by the music scene." The Parental Advisory Explicit sticker is seen everywhere on CD's these days. But to be given understanding how music has evolved, we must take our selves back, way back to the era of the 60's, and the evolution of the freedom of speech movement. During the 50's and 60's music in general was "clean" and "polite". No offensive material in the form of lyrics wouldn't ever think of being promoted or sang about on air. However, musicians still felt they wanted to express themselves, and they had a right to. To do so, they came up with creative lyrics in essence to what society would call "sticking it to the man". Musicians came up with the concept of creative lyrics because they wanted equal air time on the radio. In addition, they wanted their message to be heard from around the world.

Very popular songs sung by The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Neil Young were chart toppers. The Beatles, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", has many literal interpretations. To a fan, the song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" may be considered as a "groovy" song. In addition, a verse from the famous Beatles tune "a girl with kaleidoscope eyes" could be interpreted as as girl high on drugs. Bob Dylan's, "Mr. Tambourine Man", when first heard may be interpreted as just a good old-fashion song. However, "Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me, in the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you. “Could be literally interpreted as Dylan seeking drugs from a drug dealer and in the morning still receiving shakes from the "high" and is motivated to seek more drugs.

During the 60's these were "polite" and "clean" lyrics. Well-renouned radio announcer and host of the on-going history of new music which is syndicated on over 50 radio stations around Canada Alan Cross says this in an interview. Radio as we know it is under constant censorship control, it is important that no "uber bad" language is played on the radio before 9 o'clock p.m. There is really no way around hearing explicit lyrics. However, it is a matter of taste. When it comes to rap and swearing, Cross does not feel like swearing in rap songs does the rap stars justice because he says "it takes no talent to swear". In the report, Rap on Rap, Kill if you want to kill by Bill O'Reilly. Shaggy, of the Insane Clown Posse, is quoted as saying in the article, "with those kid's vulgarity in their speech, an anti-white attitude and acceptance of dope and violence. The only way that they are likely to leave the hood is on a stretcher". Furthermore, The ICP member says "if people don't wish to hear the explicate language in our songs, then they should turn off the radio".

It is understood that in music people adapt likings to many different genres. The artist known an Eminem is no exception. On the release of the "Marshall Mathers LP" Album the label was considering not releasing the CD due to over explicate and profane lyrics. The gay and lesbian alliance has issued a statement declaring that the "Marshall Mathers LP" contains the most blatantly homophobic lyrics they have seen in its many years.

As it was stated in the beginning of the essay music can have an emotion effect on us as human beings. The songs we hear can affect us emotionally in the sense that we could cry, scream at the top of our lungs in anger, or just bob our heads. Take for instance the band Metallica; some people may consider that the band promotes Satanism. Others may feel that be band "rocks". To find out answers to these questions, investigation is necessary. Local Toronto DJ, 2000 & Nate has a perfect response to how bands like Metallica and others can affect us. He states in an interview that "There is constant controversy in any genre of music, whether you like the song or not is a matter of personal preference, and you are responsible for what you listen to". To counter that argument, Local Kitchener musician, known for his acoustics, Rory O’Keefe, says this when asked if vocabulary can impact us as humans, "I believe that indeed music from today can affect our vocabulary, you see it every day and every time you walk down the street. More and more kids are swearing and using profanity at younger age". He then adds, "I feel that record stores should take more responsibility when selling records to "minors".

Now we develop an insight into the psychological effects that music has on us. Without a doubt, every musician's goal is to deliver a message and for that message to be heard. People have many different interpretations of specific lyrics and "messages". Some would say these messages encourage bad behaviour. Others would say it is just music, and that is just the way it is. This is especially become a hot topic with the advancement of the freedom of speech. We have come a long way - as musicians and fans of alike. What some parents may consider "good music", their kids may consider boring, and need more of an "edge". Regardless of societies opinions on music and all the freedoms the musicians now have there is still control from "the man".

In the suicide letter of Kurt Cobain he writes a warning, "all the warnings from the punk rock 101 courses over the years since my first introduction to, shall we say - ethics. Involved with independence and the embracement of your community proven to the true. I hadn't felt excitement of listen and creating music along with reading and writing for too many years now. I feel guilty beyond words". Also in his suicide note, he says, "the worst crime I can think of would be to rip people off by faking it and pretending as if I'm having 100% fun". Ending the note with "Peace, Love and Empathy".

The final thoughts are that society knows this much about music. It can uplift people when they are having a crappy day. Adrenaline can pump; heart racing can occur all for the sake at listeners enjoy their style of music. However, in genres of today it is difficult to see where artists draw the line. This is due to the freedom of speech. Take for instance, the utter desensitization of lyrics from today’s musicians. The culture, and make no mistake about it, music is a culture, is so desensitized from what is being aired on the radio that phrases and words like "I want to fuck you", "Bitch", "Nigger" are socially acceptable to society. There is an acceptance and common understanding and possibly a realization that fans understand that musicians want to speak their minds. But musicians have a responsibility to their lyrics, and how they affect people.

If this downward spiral into music "ethics" continues we will have to go back to the 60's where all messages were put into other less offensive terms, but are still understood by their fans and were acceptable for radio. But, as 2000 & Nate states earlier music is a matter of personal preference. The battle for music ethics starts now. The decision is in the hands of the fans when it comes to what they listen to.

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