What It’s Like
By Scott “Dr. Music” Itter
I guess it depends on who you are.
I think of myself as a guy who looks to “walk in someone else’s shoes”; someone that tries to be sensitive to the things that I may not fully understand. Just because it’s not the way I would say or do it, doesn’t mean that it’s the wrong way. Because of this yearning to see both sides of the coin (some say it’s the Libra in me), it’s very rare that I do editorials or pieces that are strongly opinionated. And, if you’re looking for views on religion or politics…. not a chance. But, there are those times when I just can’t fit into my own shoes. Times when I have to run down the street, barefooted, screaming about all of the things that just squeeze my diplomatic lemon. This is one of those times, because the juice is running down my leg.
I was listening to local radio (which is odd these days with my satellite receiver staring at me from the dashboard) and a song called “What It’s Like” came on. This is a song from an artist by the name of Everlast. You might know him as a member of the hip-hop group House Of Pain, or from his collaboration with Santana, when they did a song called “Put Your Lights On.” “What It’s Like” is a slow but gritty acoustic tale of street life, with stories of a gang member and a pregnant teen. It discusses the lives and choices that these individuals might have to face. It’s a song that asks the listener to look at the other side of the coin, and walk in someone else’s shoes. Needless to say, it’s a great song that’s right up my dimly lit alley.
Now, the song does have a small bit of vulgarity. It drops one “F-bomb,” and it might have two or three shits in there. But, in my meaningless opinion, the naughty stuff is barely noticeable the way the song is written and arranged. The deletion of the four-letter standards is something that I expect, and somewhat understand. Society tells us that these words are inappropriate for whatever reason, and I would agree with that when they are presented in an unrestricted public forum, like radio. But this time things were different. Words like “gun,” “drugs” and “smoked” got eaten up by Big Brother’s censorship machine.
I’ve been called many things over the years: overbearing, quiet, intense, lackadaisical, anal, and my personal favorite, Dad. I consider being a father the most important thing I’ve ever done in my life. I preach things like respect, goals, and passion to my children. I teach them manners, as well as the value of basic morality. But, you could say that I am not one to shield my kids from the harsh realities of the world in which they live. And, as we are all aware, this world can be pretty goddamn harsh.
I let them hear about guns. I let them hear about drugs (hell, even the schools teach them to say no to ‘em these days). I let my kids see and hear what it might be like for those in war torn countries. I want them to know what’s happening in the world. I let them hear from kids that don’t have iPods and video games. I want them to know that there are violent people that don’t care about them. I want them to know that there are desperate people without homes. I want them to know that they don’t live in Disneyland, because some crackhead or terrorist took Mickey out a long time ago. For me – and please understand I am talking about my own personal beliefs, and I would never preach about any “right” way to raise kids – awareness is of great importance in today’s world. Whether my approach is right or wrong, not even I know that for sure, but that’s just the way it is. I think the simple teachings of respect, and knowing right from wrong, will protect my kids from just about anything they might see or hear. That’s just what I think. And, here in America at least, I think I still have the right to think.
Looking after my children and keeping them safe is my biggest priority. But I guess the question is, what am I keeping them safe from?
Is it violence?
Is it the “F” word?
Perhaps it’s the word “gun”???
Face it, the music, for the radio executive, is just a vehicle for the advertising whores to sell their wares. (Oh yeah, “whore” was another word I was deprived of when “What It’s Like” got butchered. Sweet irony.) Here we have the fat cats of radio using music as bait for car buyers and those lucky enough to afford penis enlargements, and yet they’re bleeping out harmless common words of the English language. The very reason this song was written was to raise awareness, and this kind of blatant censorship crushes the strong emotional impact that was intended by the artist to accomplish that.
Has the time come where we can’t tell a story that contains any kind of pain or anger?
I know we’re a scared society, terrified that the next tragedy will strike in our own backyard, but does having an R rating for a film that shows someone smoking really going to fix things. Do we really think that a kid listening to the radio (like that happens anymore…..) is going to get pregnant because she heard the word “*hore” in a song, or a kid is going to get in a shoot-out because he heard the word “gun” in a song? Should we cover a 16-year old’s eyes when someone’s smoking a Marlboro?!
What the hell is going on?!
I actually find the deletion of these words offensive. The fact that some almighty suit-and-tie guy at a radio station or a record company is deciding that his audience can’t handle hearing the word “gun” or “smoked,” is more than slightly insulting to me. I’d say even the dumbest, most vulnerable listener can handle hearing these words without too much harm done. The fact these common words of the English language were exorcised from a song scares me.
Are we a society that is so terrified with the current state of the world that we are ready to revert back to the days when Elvis’s hips were offensive? Will I be asked to find “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” vulgar again?
Lord, I hope not, because the day my kids go to school on Red Ribbon Week, and are forced to proclaim “Say No To D***s ,” is the day I fire up a fat blunt, catch the Magic Bus, and say, “F**k it.”
Offended? Yeah, me too.
Hello everyone! My name is Scott Itter, but some know me as Dr. Music. I am a music journalist and photographer out of the Chicagoland area, and I have been in practice for over 20 years. I grew up in the 70’s with two big brothers that showed me all kinds of rock and roll. As I grew older I ventured out into different genres like jazz, funk, folk, and whatever else I could wrap my ears around. As I read every liner note and every Circus and Hit Parader like they were the Old and New Testament, I came to realize that I just love sound and appreciate all the people that create it.
I later became a stay-at-home dad and started honing my writing and photography skills to keep my mind from turning into mashed peas. My kids are now adults, my mind is only slightly mushy, and I am thrilled to have the honor of presenting my work to you!