5 Hits That Were “Banned” [VIDEO]
Fist of all, very little sets me off as much as YouTube and internet post that claim certain songs were “banned”. Yes, they want you to look at their posts so they try to come up with the most salacious headline possible.
Here is the lowdown on a few songs that were “banned.”
The truth of the matter is that, with a tiny few exceptions, songs are not “banned” in this country.
Having said that, a certain amount of common sense among broadcasters (oxy-moron) has lead to certain songs not being played. Radio stations are pretty much left to themselves when it comes to playing certain songs. Of course, the F.C.C has rules concerning “obscenity” and most radio stations comply with those rules of their own free will.
The BBC has “banned” a few songs over the years but the main reason is that, at one time, songs that mentioned “commercial products” were not allowed. “Lola” by the Kinks because it mentioned Coca-Cola and “Maybelline” by Chuck Berry because it is the brand name of a line of cosmetics.
So here we go. Here is a list of songs that, while not really “banned” were certainly either just not played or, in two cases, re-recorded so they would be played. Let’s start with the Mac Daddy of “banned” songs.
1. Louie, Louie-The Kingsmen- 11/30/63
Even the FBI waded in on this one. Someone thought that, since the lyrics were so hard to understand, they must surely be obscene. The FBI listened to the song over and over and all they could come up with was a statement that they couldn’t understand the lyrics. Yeah, well, join the club. Meanwhile, every radio station in the country was playing it. The song went to # 2 on the Billboard Charts and stayed there for 6 weeks.
There were a great many versions of the “lyrics” circulated around schools that no group in the world would have recorded and no record company (in 1963) would have released.
Here it is in all it’s Glory…
2. Greenback Dollar-Kingston Trio-2/23/63
Next up, the best selling group of the “folk era”, The Kingston Trio. (Odd that “Kingston Trio” comes right after “Kingsmen” in the Billboard Top 40 List)
The Trio was near the end of their string of hits when they recorded “Greenback Dollar”. The song was released and radio stations complained that they couldn’t play the song because it contained the word “damn”! (Gimmie a break, it was 1963). So, the producers went back to the master tapes and inserted a single guitar chord in place of the offending expletive and voila, it was a hit. Pay no mind to the fact that everyone knew what word was being “strummed” out. Everyone was happy now. Especially the Kingston Trio!
Here is the original version:
3. Lou Christie -Rhapsody in the Rain-4/23/66
In January of 1966, Lou Christie had his only #1 hit with “Lightnin’ Strikes”. I guess they thought, “why not do another weather record.” So, in April of that year, Christie released “Rhapsody in the Rain”. Good follow-up but the lyrics were just a tad too suggestive for the times. Part of the lyrics were: “In my car, our love went too much too far”. Innocent for this day, but in 1966 you couldn’t sing about going all the way in Daddy’s Buick. So, MGM re-recorded the song to say, “Love came like a shining star”. Christie still makes a big deal about it when he performs live. Here is the original version
4. 8 Miles High-The Byrds-4/30/66
One week after Lou Christie’s “Rhapsody in the Rain” debuted, the Byrds hit the Charts with “8 Miles High”. Obviously had to be about drugs, didn’t it? I mean, after all, it had the word “high” right there in the title.
The truth may disappoint you, but the song is about a plane trip to London. The Byrds were finally going to get to tour England and they were more than excited. That’s all the song is about. Great tune, but several stations around the country refused to play it. Roger McGuinn’s Jangling Rickenbacker really makes this record.
5.Puff, the Magic Dragon- Peter, Paul and Mary- 3/30/63
If there has ever been a case of “Much Ado about Nothing” this is it! The funny thing is that, the rumors about drug references didn’t start until a couple of years after the song was on the charts. It wasn’t just broadcasters and concerned parents who went looking for drug references in songs. The kids were a big part of the “they’re singing about drugs” mind-set. “Hippies” were the world’s worst about deciding that certain songs were about drugs or that certain performers must be “getting high all the time”.
Here’s the truth about “Puff, the Magic Dragon”. It’s about growing up and being sad about it. it’s about loss of youthful innocence. The lyrics were written by a young college student who realized that he wasn’t a kid anymore and it was a sad thing.
If you always thought it was a song about marijuana, listen again. Look at the faces of the audience..Now, that’s magic!
Hope you enjoyed this look at “banned” songs. It was a different time. Very, very different.