Memory Monday—It’s a thing…
In 1985, this thing called the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) was formed. On the surface, they wanted to give parents more control over what their children listened to especially if the music was violent, sexual, or contained lyrics about drugs. They even released a handy-dandy list of their “Filthy Fifteen.” (You can Google the list if you want to see it.) Tipper Gore and her merry band of dolts are why those little stickers are warnings are plastered over album covers.
Let’s just call the goal of the PMRC what it really is/was: Censorship. That is a dirtier word and concept than anything ever written or recorded in the Filthy Fifteen.
Thankfully, my mom and grandmother didn’t really believe in censorship. I watched, read, and listened to stuff other kids my age weren’t allowed to touch. If you know me at all, you know Prince is one of my all time favorites and when the line is “I met her in a hotel lobby/Masturbating with a magazine” it’s pretty obvious what the song is about. It was probably alright that I was allowed to listen to whatever I wanted because I basically didn’t get most of it. For example, I didn’t really get that Madonna’s Dress You Up was about sex. I understood that Like a Virgin was about sex and to this day, I don’t understand how Dress You Up is on the list and Like a Virgin isn’t. Also, I’ll just put it out there, She Bop is on the list and I didn’t know it was about sex/masturbating. I just googled that one and I had to read the lyrics about four times before I really saw the connection.
While the kids I went to school with were stuck listening to Disney tracks, I was rockin’ out to the dirty, filthy, sexy, drug music they all wanted to listen to (and apparently not getting the references in those songs). For as long as music has had lyrics, I think there has been a rumor that if you played certain songs backwards you could hear Satanic messages. Boy howdy! What fun! Except by the mid- to late 80s, cassettes were more popular and there really wasn’t an easy way for most people to play those backwards. Still myth prevailed and was the top reason not to let your kids listen to certain things.
Picture it. 1988. A little town in the Bible Belt. Poison’s Open Up and Say…Ahh was HOT! Melting the charts hot! The single Every Rose Has Its Thorn was killing the charts and I had a copy of the album. This was the ultimate in Devil worshiping music. Just look at the cover if you need proof of the demonic message encoded in the music.
Have I mentioned I have the coolest Mom ever? I do. She was at a school function and some of the parents started in with the devil music stuff. They asked Mom if she was worried about me listening to that “awful Poison record with the devil on the cover.”
“Yes! Oh, isn’t it just terrible?” Again, I already had a copy of it and I’m pretty sure she bought it for me. I kind of think Mom hates stupid about as much as I do.
The parents whipped themselves into a proper little frenzy over the next twenty minutes or so. Then Mom chimes in with this gem:
“I played that Every Rose Has Its Thorn song backwards. And do you know what it said?” I’m not kidding here, she paused for dramatic effect. The goober parents were on the edge of their seats just waiting for someone to finally confirm what they knew all along. “It said, ‘Every head has two horns’.” Her audience nearly fell out. She never cracked a smile. She never told them she was joking. She walked away, got my things, and we left.
To this day, any time I hear that song, I sing “every head has two horns” because it’s just better that way.