June 17, 2004

Taboo Tunes: A History of Banned Bands & Censored Songs

Taboo Tunes is an entertaining little tome about the history of music censorship (primarily in America). Starting from the early 20th century, it charts the various attempts by US governments and media concerns to ban music which supposedly contained drug references, encouragements to sexual licentiousness, calls to “murder”, satanic worship, or plain old radical politics. In the process, the book exposes ludicrous excesses (like the obsession with back-masking, and the attempt to ban Louie Louie because of its obscene lyrics – even though those lyrics were completely indecipherable), knee-jerk responses (banning Louis Armstrong's “What A Wonderful World” in the aftermath of 9/11…?) and the fact that many of the campaigners rely on tired-old mantras that were once applied to music that they regard as uncontroversially acceptable. (The standard invective about the lascivious “jungle rhythms” of the latest form of black music was being used to demonise ragtime back in the 1910's.)

If you want to find out more about it, check out the website. The book itself can be purchased through Amazon or, if you’re a Sydneysider, you can pick up a copy from Berkelouw Books in Paddington

Posted by Warren at June 17, 2004 08:54 PM | Censorship