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Songs that make you feel uncomfortable


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There's two songs in our set at the moment that I really don't enjoy playing as the lyrics make me feel uncomfortable.

I'm not the singer, so has less of an impact on me, but I don't feel good playing them, which also makes me not want to practice them, I will of course, though.

The first is Brown Sugar and whilst the lyrics do strike me as more than a little racist, I'm less uncomfortable with that one. The other is Delilah and I really don't like it. It's a song about domestic violence and murder that's sympathetic to the killer and I feel bad every time I play it.

What's the best route here? We've got a dep guitarist this weekend so are a bit limited on set list, but I think I might have a chat with the singer/band leader and say that going forward I'd really rather not play Delilah at least.

Or should I just suck it up and ignore it, particularly as I'm not singing them?

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lots of things have 'moved on' recently... if these songs were released now how would they be recieved? would they actually get released at all? If you are uncomfortable, i think that speaks volumes... Is that not one of the beauties of music? how it makes you feel, but if certain lyrics give any degree of reservation rather than reverance, make your thoughts and feelings known there are plenty of other great tunes to choose from.

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I'd raise your concerns with the band - you are part of a group that (at first glance) endorse the song by playing it.

I've left bands before now over song lyrics, as I'm not going to promote or perpetuate outdated attitudes and/or misogyny or racism (amongst other things).

Simply by being on stage performing the material you are part of that in the eyes of the punters.

I've also been in bands that did Brown Sugar, but changed the lyrics to make it acceptable in the 21st century. Happy compromise.

 

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I had a very similar conversation to this with my drummer friend a while ago.

We were talking about what music we are comfortable listening to and playing based on the artist and their antics.

I think you need to stay true to what you believe and if you are uncomfortable you should speak up.  At least one person in a potential audience will be feeling the same as you.

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You are of course entitled to your opinion, and your feelings are valid.

For me, I don't really believe Elton John thinks it's alright to fight on a Saturday night, or that The Proclaimers really would walk 1,000 miles, or that Sting really thought every little thing she did was magic.

I think it's possible for a lyricist/author/screenwriter to write a story about characters, without necessarily sharing the opinions of those characters. 

I don't think it's necessary to agree with the sentiment of a song to perform it. Musical theatre is on my side here 🙂

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Speak up! We change some words in songs because even though they're maybe meant to be ironic, sarcastic or whatever we aren't comfortable with them and how they can come across. I want to raise the use of b!tch in Uptown Funk as another one we need to get rid of. I hate the word and how it's used. 

If I get my way with that I might try and get the band to remove some rubbish songs too... 

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we play at least 2 Whitesnake numbers in the set, with a female singer.

Pretty sure Mr Coverdale is/was taking the p1ss

and even is he wasn't I'm pretty confident his dodgy old 70's Carry-On lyrics aren't going to suddenly misogynize  our blue rinse punters too much.

It's all fair in Love & War down the Dog 'n Duck...on a Saturday (before the last 11pm bus)

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I’d reckon that most drunk people in the pub will care less about the lyrical content and just sing along if you play them well. Until this thread I had no idea what Delilah was about and suspect that will be the case for many punters.

I’m with the @MacDaddy school of thought on this, especially as I’ve played Last Caress by The Misfits and didn’t really mean what we were singing.

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1 hour ago, MacDaddy said:

I think it's possible for a lyricist/author/screenwriter to write a story about characters, without necessarily sharing the opinions of those characters. 

I don't think it's necessary to agree with the sentiment of a song to perform it. Musical theatre is on my side here 🙂

Fairytale of New York is a great example of this.

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This made me smile. When I was a teenager, I was a little preoccupied with the respective threats of death, nuclear war and rabies. I had an album by Magnum (Marauder) which had a song that included the line 'there' ll be no new day dawning for me'. I didn't play the tune for years despite playing the rest of the record.

 

I can cope with it now. 😁

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12 hours ago, Graham said:

I'm not the singer, so has less of an impact on me, but I don't feel good playing them, which also makes me not want to practice them, I will of course, though.

The first is Brown Sugar and whilst the lyrics do strike me as more than a little racist, I'm less uncomfortable with that one. The other is Delilah and I really don't like it. It's a song about domestic violence and murder that's sympathetic to the killer and I feel bad every time I play it.

If you actually feel uncomfortable doing them then bring it up, is it not suppsoed to be for enjoyment or is it the day job? My wife refused to do brown sugar as the singer in the last group I was in with her, but that was easier as she wasnt a fan of the stones either (or am i) so happy to drop it.

I certainly wouldn't do blurred lines.

The guitarist always has a bit of a problem with doing billy jean because of the jaco connection - but he changes his mind, if he really didn't want to do it (like any song) we wouldn't.

Doing Tubthumping, by chumbawumba makes me feel uncomfortable!

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Not a song I have ever played in a band, but I always feel uncomfortable when I hear it:

I would rather, I would rather go blind
Then to see you walk away from me

How must blind people feel when they hear these lyrics?

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Tears for Fears' "Sowing the seeds of love" is just about jizzing in public. 

So many hit songs should be binned if you scrutinize the contents enough.

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24 minutes ago, thebrig said:

Not a song I have ever played in a band, but I always feel uncomfortable when I hear it:

I would rather, I would rather go blind
Then to see you walk away from me

How must blind people feel when they hear these lyrics?

Do amputees feel excluded when they hear

And when the rain comes down
Would you choose to walk or stay
Would you choose to walk
Would you choose to stay

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7 minutes ago, Ricky Rioli said:

Do amputees feel excluded when they hear

And when the rain comes down
Would you choose to walk or stay
Would you choose to walk
Would you choose to stay

I could be wrong, but surely these lyrics are only asking, Would you choose to walk or stay? I really don't see the connection with amputees.

But, saying, I would rather go blind! is a statement that they would choose to go blind, which to my mind is a terrible thing to say.

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12 hours ago, wateroftyne said:

My goodness.. if that's how you feel, don't ever join a folk band. The lyrics to half of those tunes will give you nightmares.

Or Blues, stay well away from the Blues..

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26 minutes ago, thebrig said:

I could be wrong, but surely these lyrics are only asking, Would you choose to walk or stay? I really don't see the connection with amputees.

But, saying, I would rather go blind! is a statement that they would choose to go blind, which to my mind is a terrible thing to say.

Surely its a statement of absolute distress at the thought of losing a lover. Its not a statement of fact. People say and do odd things when they are in love. Or was Tom Petty actually having his heart dragged around? They are songs for goodness sake, and if they bring to the public's attention something awful that happened in the past, Brown Sugar, then kids should know about it.

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Am I the only one that is shocked at someones woke'ness about old songs? Brown Sugar is an anti slave song and Delilah is about someones, albeit over the top, revenge on someone who wronged him. Make believe and in the past.

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36 minutes ago, wateroftyne said:

To be fair, when we’re listening to music we’re largely excluding deaf people.

From what I read sometime ago, that isn't even slightly true, in they were saying the marjority of deaf people like music. Unlike excluding blind people who can't get much out of a light shows, music can be easily felt by anyone.

 

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