Sunday, December 9, 2018

But Baby, It's Cold Outside

More than 50 years ago, Jim Morrison took a firm stance as a dissident poet when The Doors appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show to perform "Light My Fire."  The lyrics, of course, include the phrase, "Girl we couldn’t get much higher" and Morrison was told he couldn't sing the word "higher" on air. It was agreed that Jim would replace "higher" with "better," despite the song being the No. 1 hit worldwide. Of course, Morrison sang the original lyrics as intended and when all was sung and done, Sullivan proclaimed, "You will never do this show again." Jim, being Jim, turned to Sullivan and replied, "Hey, that's okay – we just did the Ed Sullivan show."

Mick Jagger, despite The Stones having the reputation as the bad boys of rock, were faced with the same censorship when Sullivan demanded that the band change "Let's Spend the Night Together" to "Let's Spend Some Time Together." The Stones, though, would bow down to Sullivan's demands. That same year, the BBC banned The Beatles "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" for its inherent reference to LSD, pointing out that the acronym was even in the song's title with the words Lucy, Sky and Diamonds. Van Morrison's "Browned-Eyed Girl" was originally titled "Brown-Skinned Girl" but Van altered it for a more "radio friendly" title before it was released. Interestingly in the 50s, artists like Little Richard and Chuck Berry, whose sexual inuendo was far more obvious, flew right under the radar.

Censorship on radio was clearly a reaction in the 60s to changing times and mores, and 50 years later, we're still at it. While AM rarely takes a political stance, I have to come out in support of "Baby, It"s Cold Outside," a Holiday tune written by Frank Loesser in 1944. Are we really moving toward a world in which flirtation and the sensual inuendo that has been the catalyst for dating since The Flintstones is banned?

Seriously, "Baby, It's Cold Outside" is considered "rapey," based on the line: "Say, what's in this drink," which many naive listeners assume is a reference to a date rape drug, ignoring what precedes and follows the line. The song's structure is conversational repartee between the male and female singers. Every statement the woman makes is answered in turn, until the two come together at the end of the song.

Our romantic tale is of a woman who has dropped by her beau's house on a cold winter night. They talk about how long she's going to stay. She has "another drink" and stays a little longer, and later it's implied that she will stay the night. Keep in mind the woman provides plenty of evidence that she does indeed want to stay in a time when "good" girls did no such thing. The tension is brought about based on her desires. Her beau's response offers the justification she needs to stay without guilt, never once proclaiming that she doesn't want to. Her beau has a myriad of reasons for her stay that include it's snowing, the cabs aren't running, the storm is getting worse, and she might get hurt trying to get home.

Interestingly, another politicized criticism is the man's flirtatious "trolling" by stating that she has beautiful eyes, that her lips look "delicious," and her hair looks "swell."

The song ends with the couple, now in harmony deciding that she will indeed stay. Preposterous! Bottom line, boys and girls, it's a Christmas song; not everything needs to be politicized.

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