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I love playing the bass line for substitute and it is in the songlist for the band I've recently joined, but one line of the lyrics makes me cringe every time I hear it.

I understand it was different times in 1966, but in 2018 it really stands out and ruins the song for me - particularly in the current political climate.

I've read on Wikipedia that the line in question was substituted with "I try walking forward but my feet walk back" for the US release.

Has anyone else cringed when playing or hearing this song?

Would it ruin it if the US lyric was used instead of the line that makes me cringe?

 

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I'm not qualified to speculate on the offensiveness of the line in question, but as someone who likes the song I can safely say:

If I heard a band play it and change that line, I would be fine with that. It would not affect my opinion of them one bit.

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8 minutes ago, MartinB said:

I'm not qualified to speculate on the offensiveness of the line in question, but as someone who likes the song I can safely say:

If I heard a band play it and change that line, I would be fine with that. It would not affect my opinion of them one bit.

But would you be offended if they didn't change the line?

My band changes the homophobic lyric in Dire Straits' Money for Nothing. I wouldn't feel comfortable with a homophobic insult used in that context. However, if the op is referring to "I look all white but my dad was black" then unless I'm missing something in context or other lines I don't find this offensive, it's not saying being black/ white/ mixed race is good, bad or better one than another or giving an insult. Society still has a problem with race and mixed race and calling that out to think about is no bad thing... Unless I'm completely misunderstanding. 

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If you’re unsure then change it. What do they currently sing?

I’m personally of the opinion that there’s no such thing as ‘political correctness’. What there is is respect and good manners, and not saying something that may upset someone else. Just the way I personally was brought up.

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A fine looking suit would normally be made of wool, tweed, cotton, linen, velvet etc.

The line about the suit being made out of sack can only be interpreted as meaning that the suit is actually inferior to how it appears.

Other lines in the lyric follow a similar pattern, including the one about parentage.

Found the US version - I don't think the lyric change actually sounds as clumsy as I thought it might, so I think this is the solution.

 

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As it happens, Daltrey actually sings the "US version" one of the better-known live albums (think it's IoW 1970).

I agree that the line almost certainly bore no ill intention. It does sound rather ham-fisted nowadays, but then so do plenty of other lyrics from that time. You can understand why the US label wanted it changed - the context is very important. The US release went out in April 1966, while the Civil Rights Movement was in full swing (coincidentally, two years almost to the day before the assassination of Martin Luther King), and I can imagine that the label would have been wary of any lines - however neutral their intention - that might have inadvertently whipped up any further tension.

I don't think anyone's going to accuse your band of racism for singing the original line, but I also understand why it makes you wary. Maybe it's worth pointing out to the singer that there's an alternative lyric, which sounds better. You don't even need to make it about the racial sensitivities of the line - I've seen equally spirited debates over whether the first verse of The Kinks' Lola should end with "cherry cola" or "coca-cola"...

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I'd feel faintly ridiculous if I had to sing it,  but there's far more cringeworthy songs from from that era.

Take Brown Sugar, an up beat song featuring a slaver having sex (I don't think it's either confirmed or even necessarily implied that the sex is consensual) with one of his slaves. And that's before you get to 'just like a young girl should' lyric. 

That definitely has the potential to upset.

Mick Jagger might  me able to get away with singing it, I doubt I could.

Edited by Cato
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1 minute ago, Cato said:

I'd feel faintly ridiculous if I had to sing it,  butthere's far more cringeworthy songs from from that era.

Take Brown Sugar, an up beat song about slavers having sex (I don't it's either confirmed or even necessarily implied that the sex is consensual) with one of his slaves. And that's before you get to 'just like a young girl should' lyric. 

That definitely has the potential to upset.

Mick Jagger might  me able to get away with singing it, I doubt I could.

sure I heard an interview with somebody who mixed Brown Sugar, Jagger wanted the vocal as low as possible because he was aware of the contentious lyrical content.

There are hundreds of songs out there that have dodgy lyrics most people sing along without even thinking about it, I'm certainly one of those that doesn't think about lyrics I just sing them without a clue of what they're about.

I've never even thought about that lyric from Substitute before this thread

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1 hour ago, uk_lefty said:

But would you be offended if they didn't change the line?

My band changes the homophobic lyric in Dire Straits' Money for Nothing. I wouldn't feel comfortable with a homophobic insult used in that context. However, if the op is referring to "I look all white but my dad was black" then unless I'm missing something in context or other lines I don't find this offensive, it's not saying being black/ white/ mixed race is good, bad or better one than another or giving an insult. Society still has a problem with race and mixed race and calling that out to think about is no bad thing... Unless I'm completely misunderstanding. 

those lyrics were written down by Knopfler, almost verbatim from a conversation he overheard, as such he is singing in character. Changing the 'offensive' lyric, not only detracts from the ire towards the person being sung about, but also changes the person being sung about (80's American hair metal type). 

IMO of course :) 

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Play and sing that one.  No problem for me at all as it's what Pete wrote and what people would hear on the original record which you can often hear on the radio.  I think the audience might notice if I sang the wrong words though, actually, they probably wouldn't.

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thinking about it, it's airbrushing history isn't it? the song was of it's time that's why we like old songs it reminds us of times past, and part of the charm is the lyrics might not be acceptable in today's climate, for me anyway, I always felt a bit cheated when they took the N word out of the Dambusters film (the name of Guy Gibson's dog) the last few times I've seen it it's back in

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5 hours ago, PaulWarning said:

thinking about it, it's airbrushing history isn't it? the song was of it's time that's why we like old songs it reminds us of times past, and part of the charm is the lyrics might not be acceptable in today's climate, for me anyway, I always felt a bit cheated when they took the N word out of the Dambusters film (the name of Guy Gibson's dog) the last few times I've seen it it's back in

I don’t think it’s airbrushing history, more being aware that there are things that happened, and words that were used in the past that just simply aren’t acceptable now, and probably shouldn’t have been acceptable in the past.

Why on earth would you feel cheated about the n word? Thank god it isn’t used anymore or included in the film.

Edited by ambient
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3 hours ago, uk_lefty said:

Do you mean the line "I look all white but my dad was black"? 

For me the statement is actually true 

 

Similar to Madnesses embarrassment , just drawing attention to the views of some , but not necessarily that of the writer or singer . I wouldn't worry about it but change it if you feel uncomfortable. 

Edited by lojo
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56 minutes ago, ambient said:

I don’t think it’s airbrushing history, more being aware that there are things that happened, and words that were used in the past that just simply aren’t acceptable now, and probably shouldn’t in the past.

Why on earth would you feel cheated about the n word? Thank god it isn’t used anymore or included in the film.

the point is it is used again, they cut it for a while then stopped cutting it, it is a part of history (it is a true story), we learn from history not by ignoring it but by learning from it, by seeing how things were we can see how far we've come

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2 hours ago, MacDaddy said:

those lyrics were written down by Knopfler, almost verbatim from a conversation he overheard, as such he is singing in character. Changing the 'offensive' lyric, not only detracts from the ire towards the person being sung about, but also changes the person being sung about (80's American hair metal type). 

IMO of course :) 

You and I have heard different versions of where that lyric came from, then. And he doesn't sing that line these days either. Anyroad, we just don't want to end up inadvertently offending anyone with it. I have heard the song for years and never picked up on it being "quoted" from someone or in character. Interesting! 

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Blimey  i thought i was on facebook for a minute then,i take none of you are sex pistols fans,The lyrics should remain how they were written and if some  snowflake is offended then so be it,some people are taught to feel offended nowadays but be the lefty schooling kids get now get on with life and stop trying to change history the Lyrics are what they are so what.

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