Let's sue for a little quality on today's CDs

December 16, 2004|by TIM ROWLAND

Parental warning: In paragraph six of this column, you will find the word "lawyer." Parents with young children who may not be emotionally developed enough to view this word should take appropriate action.

Sorry it's come to this, but I do not wish to be sued. I have reason to worry, because I see where a Washington County couple is suing Wal-Mart for selling them a CD that contained lyrics inappropriate for a 13-year-old.

I didn't know this, but apparently Wal-Mart prides itself on its refusal to sell CDs that are compelled to provide parental warnings. That's right, the store may hire companies that employ illegal immigrants and pay them two bits a week, but at least we can be confident that their kids will not be subjected to any music that might threaten the fiber of their family unit.

Anyway, somehow one of these nasty songs slipped through the (can I say this? OK, thanks) cracks, and ended up on the shelf, where it was purchased by the offended family which, being American, decided that the best possible action was to sue.


Presented with a similar situation, I might have gone off the deep end and done something totally nuts, like return the CD for a refund. This explains why I am not rich. I never see a potential money-making situation until it's too late.

The couple wants $74,500 for each person who bought this CD thinking it was gospel or something, and discovered it to be naughty instead. (CBS has to be praying right now that this couple didn't see the Super Bowl).

The lawyer for the couple said, "The people rely on (parental advisory labels) and I don't think..." Stop a second. Do you care what the lawyer thinks? I know I don't. When we've reached the point where half the country is suing rap singers and the other half is suing the Ten Commandments, it all gets a little too surreal for me to handle.

I'm with the couple in question on this point: Is a little decency too much to ask? If you want to live your life unassaulted by a societal raunch barrage pummeling you from every angle, shouldn't you be able to?

I think a lot of people would like to, but they've just given up - because outside of amputating your kids' ears, what can you do? I don't see a lawsuit as an answer. It seems as if you're singularly addressing one of society's dysfunctions with another one of society's dysfunctions. Suing people who cuss, or cussing people who sue, what's the difference?

I'd be more sympathetic if they were suing over the poor quality of what passes for music today. In my day, music was music, and you had thoughtful lyrics such as:

"Another one bites the dust.

Another one bites the dust.

And another one gone,

And another one gone,

Another one bites the dust. Hey!"

Now that was music. But today's songs I just don't get. And my other question is this: How did country music get a free pass on the foul lyrics movement?

In country music, a guy can get drunk, fool around with eight different women and a couple of barnyard geese, get drunk again, go crawling back to his wife and celebrate their reconciliation by getting drunk and going out with eight more women and running his pickup into a train.

And that's just in the song's title.

But that's fine, because instead of the traditional four-letter word, they use words like "cuddle." Um hm. I for one am not fooled.

Reminds me though, I was going to write a country/rap crossover song, but for some reason I never got around to it. It was about a farmer who went into town to get himself a new gardening tool:

"Got a problem wit my furrows

Trouble diggin' up a row

Gettin' funky and frustrated

Got to get myself a hoe."

Instantly, you can see a few problems. Do I spell "hoe" with the final "e" or not? And how many inner-city youth are going to relate to a word like "furrow?" The topic just doesn't come up a lot in the 'hood.

Besides, you talk about agriculture in North Philly and it will probably get you sued.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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