I remember when lyrics were poetic indicators, paintings, photographs, lilting, shifting landscapes of innuendo and allusion. Laying on one's belly with the record jacket open, poring over lyrics, trying to decide whether they meant what you originally thought or what your friend Suzie said they meant....
Now I turn on the radio and, if my children are with me, most times turn it right back off again or find a different station. The mainstream music stations have no songs with landscapes, no poetry.
Freud discussed the sublimation of sexuality as having the ability to create art; that is to say, but channeling our sexual impulses away from sex and into other things, we could create works of art. Song lyrics have been that for me. The constancy of finding myself in the poetry accompanying beautiful music is something that allowed me to discover my own path, my own feeling template, validating my most frightening and profound confusion and intense yearning.
Now the songs are about strip clubs, alcohol, lesbianism without commitment, drinking so much you forget where your phone is, paying for lap dances, pimping, prostitution and booty shaking.
Sublimation, it seems, has vanished. There is no channeling away from sexuality to create art, there is simply lyrics that try to rhyme and the most base, the most puerile take on sexuality and altered states of mind are promoted. Its as if the music industry is run by a gang of 16 year old boys pretending to be important men.
While I admit, my kids don't understand a lot of the lyrics, this isn't the domain of a select few anymore. This music permeates our popular culture so that even 'Kids Bop' have versions of it, all cleaned up and heading toward the playground. The school bus driver blares the radio on the long ride to and from school, with Kindergarten, first, second, third and fourth graders straining to hear about people's heads spinning around and someone named "Shorty" and the loads of sex they may have on their birthdays.
As a parent and as a teacher, its uncomfortable and disturbing to say the least.