Driving home the other day, I had an interesting conversation with my son. After listening to Ryan Seacrest’s Sunday Top 40, one of his favourite songs – We Are Young by Fun, comes on. We all love that song – it’s a catchy tune after all. Listen to it here.
The conversation gets interesting when Sam says to me, “Why did you tell Dad you like this song, but too bad about the lyrics?”
“Because it’s a drinking song, and tons of little kids are going around singing it now. Sort of weird.” I tell him.
“It’s about everybody getting drunk and having to carry each other out at the end of the night. And at the beginning of the song, he talks about his girlfriend wearing a pair of sunglasses to hide a scar he gave her – so he’s a woman beater to boot.”
Sam is shocked. “No – the part about sunglasses is code for a type of guy (apparently who thinks he’s über cool, but is a poser) , and he asks for a scar.” (which made no sense at all to me, but he insisted that was how it was worded).
When we came home, I googled the lyrics – and it turns out we were both right.
“Give me a second, I need to get my story straight
My friends are in the bathroom getting higher than the Empire State
my lover she’s waiting for me just across the bar
My seats been taken by some sunglasses asking ’bout a scar
and I know I gave it to you months ago
I know you’re trying to forget
but between the drinks and subtle things
the holes in my apologies
you know I’m trying hard to take it back
so if by the time the bar closes
and you feel like falling down
I’ll carry you home
We are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter than the sun
Great song, very catchy tune, but really – these words are horrible for our kids to be chanting as an anthem. And I know perhaps my daughter doesn’t get the lyrics, and I guess my son didn’t either until I tuned him into it – but beyond my kids who are 9 and 12, endless teenagers – who do understand the lyrics – have this looped on their iPods. And I don’t want to completely age myself as a fuddy-duddy here – but can’t we sing about love, lust, heart ache and good times without talking about violence and the acceptance of it? About falling down drunk being jolly and grand?
Here, let me beat you, lets all get drunk and forget about it – we’re young! Ugh.
I know, I know, we had those songs too – I know you’ll remind me of some doozies. After all – in the 80’s bands like AC-DC, Nazareth, Black Sabbath ruled, and I guess they weren’t singing about apple pie and being kind to their women. But did they really openly confess to beating them and have us sing along? I could say I long for the good old days of George Micheal and Boy George – but I guess there may be arguments about intent there too.
I find it an odd predicament – as a writer, and one who facilitates writing workshops, I love when people delve into the dark places. I read or listen to their work and don’t feel like I’m condoning bad behavior or a contributing to a shift of acceptance of such in our society. But as a Mom who sings along to songs like this with her kids on a long car ride, it’s something that makes me cringe, but that tune is just so friggin’ catchy.
I do remember loving the song Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, and belting out the lyrics, and I guess that was about an assassin with bargain basement prices. But it was also the time of Bananarama, The Go Go’s and the rockers like Bryan Adams who could belt a tune, but not make my mother choke on the words being sung over the radio waves.
How about you readers? Do you remember songs you loved as a kid that make you cringe looking back?
Tell me the truth…am I showing my age?