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20 Greatest Songs with Swearing
  • March 21, 2014 : 07:03
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In December 1976 the Sex Pistols shocked a nation of prim, umbrella-carrying tea drinkers by swearing multiple times (a pair of shits and three fucks—a full house!) on a six P.M. TV news program. They were instantly on the front page of British newspapers, with headlines such as FURY AT FILTHY TV CHAT and FOUR-LETTER PUNK ROCK GROUP IN TV STORM. For their debut album they recorded “Bodies,” in which Johnny Rotten swears not for fun or outrage, like most singers, but at the horror of humanity. “Fuck this and fuck that / Fuck it all and fuck a fucking brat,” he hollers, making each fuck a percussive splat. SEX PISTOLS IN NEW ‘FOUR LETTER’ STORM, The Sun soon reported.

Faithfull was an English rose, the most gorgeous blonde in swinging London, with schoolgirl eyes, a sweet singing voice and Mick Jagger at her side. Then came heroin addiction, homelessness and a suicide attempt (via 150 sleeping pills). You can hear all that misery, plus about 5 million cigarettes, on her 1979 album, Broken English, which she has called an “exorcism.” A highlight is “Why’d Ya Do It,” a raging response to infidelity sung in a witchy voice two octaves below Lauren Bacall’s range. “Why’d ya let her suck your cock?” Faithfull demands. “Every time I see your dick, I see her cunt in my bed.” When she first sang it onstage, to people who remembered her as an innocent, they were “absolutely staggered,” she said. “I’d see people’s jaws dropping.” Yours might too.

Elmer Valentine, co-founder of Whisky a Go Go, the L.A. club where the Doors got their start, said of Jim Morrison, “He was kind of ahead of his time on certain things—like swearing.” Indeed, Morrison was a proud troublemaker and button-pusher, as well as a drunk, which combined to make him the William Shakespeare of cussing singers—most notoriously in “The End,” an oedipal melodrama that climaxes with Morrison telling his father, “I want to kill you,” then saying to his mother, “I want to fuck you.” The first time the Doors played “The End” at the Whisky, they were fired. In 1967, when Morrison’s kindly mother, Clara, came to see the Doors at a show in Washington, D.C., he screamed his illicit urge, then looked at his mom, who stood on the side of the stage, stunned. We get it, Jim. You’re a rebel.

When “Killing in the Name” became an unlikely U.K. hit in late 2009, the BBC invited Rage Against the Machine—an American hard-rock band notorious for its contempt for authority—to play it live on a breakfast show, politely requesting that Rage omit the “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me” refrain. Defying the network, vocalist Zack de la Rocha fired off four fucks, causing millions of Brits to gag on their scones before the host shouted, “Get rid of it,” and a BBC engineer faded out the performance. In effect, Rage had told the BBC, “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me.” Who was surprised by that outcome?

The song, written by longtime Playboy contributor Shel Silverstein, tells the story of a guy who “grew up mean” because he was taunted for having a girl’s name. He vows to kill the dad who named him Sue, and the song culminates in a bloody barroom brawl between the two. When Cash debuted “Sue” at San Quentin State Prison in 1969, the inmates roared. It then topped the country chart for five weeks—though only after Cash’s record company bleeped out “son of a bitch” and “damn.” In 1979 singer Carlene Carter described herself to a New York audience as “the gal who put the ‘cunt’ in country.” She didn’t know her stepdad, Johnny Cash, had flown to New York City to surprise her. “My dad didn’t speak to me for about a year,” she said. Kinda hypocritical, no?

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read more: entertainment, Celebrities, magazine, music, issue april 2014


  • Tony
    You forgot the grand daddy of all cuss songs. "Kick Out the Jams", by the MC5 FROM lINCOLN pARK, mi (Detroit)