I was saddened and angered by the news I read today that Somali militants have banned the playing of music from the country’s airwaves. Well technically the transition government only control a small part of the capital Mogadishu so it is actually the work of the militants that run the rest of the country. There has not been a functioning government in the state since 1991. The militants have closed down five BBC radio relay stations in the south of the country, so now there are just two FM transmitters left in the transition government and UN controlled part of Mogadishu. Is there anything we can do about it? I don’t know, but I doubt it. The waters off Somalia are already full of proper pirates so the chances of setting up a pirate radio station off shore seems unlikely. Can we write to our politicians? Well sure you can, but certainly in the UK at the moment the self-regarding parasites are so far up their own sphincters with the General Election and new ways to fiddle their expenses that they won’t be bothered by something so trifling as this. But if you do believe there is something we could do then please get in touch. If anyone from Somalia is actually reading this I would love to hear from you. You can read the BBC report on this story by clicking here
The ban on music radio in Somalia has led to the discovery and use of many innovative living instruments. I'm not quite sure where you blow on this one though!
This whole sorry episode got me thinking about songs that have been banned from airplay in the UK, so that, my dear readers is what this post is all about!
One of the biggest en masse bans occurred just after 9/11 back in 2001. A Programme Director at one of the Clear Channel Radio Stations produced a list of songs that he felt might be in bad taste after the events of 2001. It was allegedly meant as a guideline and supposedly received no corporate backing. I kind of see where this person was coming from with some of the choices (although I do not agree at all) but how the hell did the following make it on to the list?
“Ob La Di Ob La Da” – Beatles
“What A Wonderful World” – Louis Armstrong
“99 red Balloons” – Nena
Alice In Chains, the Beatles and Metallica have four entries each while AC/ DC are way out in front with six. It seems that almost any song mentioning planes, fire, death, bombs, New York or the middle east was included. Click here to see the whole list. The BBC actually preceded this during the Gulf War of 1991. This list included Abba’s “Waterloo” and also the instruction that Massive Attack would be referred to as Massive during the conflict. Click here to see the BBC’s Gulf War banned list and many other lists referenced in this post
The BBC has quite a long history of banning songs for various reasons and here is just a small selection along with the reasons they received a beeb ban!
“Je T’Aime” – Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg. Obviously the powers that be at the BBC back in 1969 understood french far better than I did then or even do today. personally I think there would have only been a tiny minority of people in the UK in 1969 who would have understood the lyrics anyway. It allegedly wasn’t helped though by the inclusion in the lyric of Serge’s desire to “entre te reins” which I’m told means between the kidneys, or in English probably ‘up the bum’
“The Day After You” – Blow Monkeys (supported by Curtis Mayfield). This was banned for being anti Margaret Thatcher. Since when was that a crime? I always have been and always will be. If you feel the same maybe you should also check out Elvis Costello’s “Tramp The Dirt Down”
“Tribute To Buddy Holly” – Mike Berry and the Outlaws. This was a Joe Meek production from 1961 and was banned for being a morbid celebration of a dead teen idol
“Cover Of The Rolling Stone” – Dr Hook and the Medicine Show. Obviously the BBC were not going to advertise an American publication, which in those days was almost impossible to get in this country anyway. The band tried to help by recording a new version of the song which replaced Rolling Stone with Radio Times, which was and still is a BBC published TV and Radio listings magazine (other listing magazines are available!)
Many other songs, especially more recently have been banned for including swearing. The earliest of these that I am aware of is John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero” in 1970. John Lydon (formerly known as Johnny Rotten remains the only person to have sneaked the ‘C’ word into a song and had it played though. Listen to the Sex Pistols “Pretty Vacant” again and hear how he pronounces ‘vacant’ in the chorus. I understand that this was deliberate. Nice one Mr Lydon 😉
I could go on and on with this post but I will draw it to a close, but I would like to hear your stories of banned songs wherever you are. Personally I think the world would be a nicer place if the likes of Boyzone, Westlife, Robbie Williams and anyone who wins X Factor were to be banned from getting any airplay ever!
I will finish with a story about Michael Logan who recently received an ASBO for singing Bob Marley songs outside his home in the UK from 8 a.m until midnight. (Click here for the link to the story from the Manchester Evening News) Now I don’t condone that sort of thing but it does give me a great excuse to end with a Bob Marley song! This is Bob with a great live segue of “War/ No More Trouble”
Did you know that the lyrics to Marley’s “War” were the words of a speech made by Haile Selassie?