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Old 06-07-2019, 10:43 AM
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Fish and finger pie, or how did this lyric get by the AM radio censors?


So "Penny Lane" is playing on the office muzak, and Paul mentions "fish and finger pie"- there is literally no other meaning to 'finger pie', other than 'fingerbang', (even according to the Wikipedia page of the song) and they throw in a mention of fish, just in case you had any doubts to the meaning. That this was played on radio, and a top ten hit, in the mid-1960's to me is quite astonishing.

I also distinctly recall my AM station playing an unedited version of Walk on the Wild Side, with the line 'and she never lost her head, even when she was giving head'- in 1973! (or thereabout). How did they miss this?

Current radio is a lot more liberal but up through the 80's at least, examples like this had to be rare I would think?

Last edited by Helmut Doork; 06-07-2019 at 10:43 AM.
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Old 06-07-2019, 11:12 AM
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It is not "fish and finger pie". It is "a four of fish"(four referring to four quid for the cost of an order of fried fish" and "finger pie"( a crude schoolboy euphemism for touching a girl's private parts).
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Old 06-07-2019, 11:15 AM
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Have you ever listened to the lyrics of "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" by Joe Turner and by Bill Haley and the Comets? There's only a few ways to interpret "a one-eyed cat peepin' in a seafood store." Sexual double entendres in rock and roll have been there since the beginning, literally.
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Old 06-07-2019, 11:17 AM
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It is not "fish and finger pie". It is "a four of fish"(four referring to four quid for the cost of an order of fried fish" and "finger pie"( a crude schoolboy euphemism for touching a girl's private parts).
So because it could mean touching the outside of the genitals instead of insertion, that was enough not to censor it? No other radio song of this era comes close to mentioning anything close to heavy petting.
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Old 06-07-2019, 11:19 AM
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So because it could mean touching the outside of the genitals instead of insertion, that was enough not to censor it? No other radio song of this era comes close to mentioning anything close to heavy petting.
I did not say, or even imply that. I was only correcting your take on what "fish and finger pie" actually meant.
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Old 06-07-2019, 11:20 AM
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Have you ever listened to the lyrics of "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" by Joe Turner and by Bill Haley and the Comets? There's only a few ways to interpret "a one-eyed cat peepin' in a seafood store." Sexual double entendres in rock and roll have been there since the beginning, literally.
double entendres sure, but finger pie would be a single entendre, there is no second meaning.
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Old 06-07-2019, 11:21 AM
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And in the UK at least, radio censors (until not that long ago, that meant the BBC) were perhaps not the most worldly of types. "Lola" by the Kinks famously ran into trouble because it mentioned Coca Cola - an unacceptable reference to a brand name. The fact that it was about a transvestite encounter was (presumably) missed completely. Once Coca was changed to Cherry, everything was good.

You could start a thread on things the censor missed. In fact, you have.

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Old 06-07-2019, 11:24 AM
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I did not say, or even imply that. I was only correcting your take on what "fish and finger pie" actually meant.
yes, there is a place somewhere online in the vast internet that says it means external petting. There are also places that say it means insertion. Both would be highly inappropriate for AM radio.
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Old 06-07-2019, 11:29 AM
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So because it could mean touching the outside of the genitals instead of insertion, that was enough not to censor it? No other radio song of this era comes close to mentioning anything close to heavy petting.
Censors deal primarily with actual profanity, not adult themes and situations. If you don't say (according to one well-known list) shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, or tits, you can describe pretty much anything you wish.
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Old 06-07-2019, 11:29 AM
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yes, there is a place somewhere online in the vast internet that says it means external petting. There are also places that say it means insertion. Both would be highly inappropriate for AM radio.
I wasn't relying on any internet site. I was relying on what McCartney told me at the Hollywood USO in the summer of '78.
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Old 06-07-2019, 11:37 AM
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When I heard the song, growing up, I just figured "finger pie" meant it was "finger food", that you ate without plates or utensils*. Possibly a lot of censors thought the same thing, or figured it was a double entendre that could be rationalized as "clean"..




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Old 06-07-2019, 11:37 AM
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I wasn't relying on any internet site. I was relying on what McCartney told me at the Hollywood USO in the summer of '78.
my error then on the fish part then, but we all three agree that finger pie is single entendre slang for stimulation of the female genitalia, yes? And that that is not a subject usually referenced on 1960's AM radio?
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Old 06-07-2019, 11:39 AM
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I dunno, I gave up interpreting Beatles lyrics after the whole "rich fag jew" debate that never got resolved.
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Old 06-07-2019, 11:41 AM
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my error then on the fish part then, but we all three agree that finger pie is single entendre slang for stimulation of the female genitalia, yes? And that that is not a subject usually referenced on 1960's AM radio?
Well, I'm an American Midwestern boy of a certain age, and I never heard that. I'm aware of 'fingering', but never knew 'finger pie' was the same thing.
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Old 06-07-2019, 11:47 AM
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i. A slight correction: "four of fish" meant "fourpennyworth", not "four quid". My misremembrance, not Paul's.
2. While "finger pie" was a euphemism for genital touching, it wasn't a widely known euphemism and the censors probably though it just another nonsense phrase from a couple of blokes known for making up nonsense phrases.

Last edited by Czarcasm; 06-07-2019 at 11:48 AM.
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Old 06-07-2019, 11:50 AM
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And in the UK at least, radio censors (until not that long ago, that meant the BBC) were perhaps not the most worldly of types. "Lola" by the Kinks famously ran into trouble because it mentioned Coca Cola - an unacceptable reference to a brand name. The fact that it was about a transvestite encounter was (presumably) missed completely. Once Coca was changed to Cherry, everything was good.

You could start a thread on things the censor missed. In fact, you have.
I strongly suspect that this is the explanation. Yes, you can look up any potentially naughty term online NOW, and see what it means, but censors back then didn't have that sort of resource. I suspect that they were looking for the overt use of particular words, and many euphamisms slipped past them, for these very reasons.
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Old 06-07-2019, 11:52 AM
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[Made a mistake]

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Old 06-07-2019, 11:56 AM
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yes, there is a place somewhere online in the vast internet that says it means external petting. There are also places that say it means insertion. Both would be highly inappropriate for AM radio.
1) It was the 1960s. Rock and roll got away with a lot of stuff they probably wouldn't get away with before or after them.

2) It was the Beatles, who could get away with a lot more stuff than, say, the Buckinghams.

3) I certainly didn't know what "finger pie" was supposed to mean. I thought it was one of those meat pies the British are supposed to be so fond of.

3A) I suspect a lot of Americans, including a lot of radio station owners, shared my ignorance. The ones who knew either didn't play the record, or didn't care.

4) Even back then, the government didn't "censor" radio stations over content, unless a bunch of people sent angry letters. We had two rock and roll stations here that lost their FCC licenses during that ear. One of them was to to have run a fraudulent promotion, the owner of the other one was convicted of child molestation. We have an AM station here that is currently under investigation because the "owner" is allegedly a shell corporation hiding the identity of the real owner, who's a convicted felon.

4A) See "Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen.

5) By the time McCartney got around to explaining the lyrics, the song was already a part of the oldies collection of every radio station in America. It would be no more scandalous than today's news that your grandmother was three months pregnant when she married your grandfather.
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Old 06-07-2019, 11:56 AM
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i. A slight correction: "four of fish" meant "fourpennyworth", not "four quid". My misremembrance, not Paul's.
2. While "finger pie" was a euphemism for genital touching, it wasn't a widely known euphemism and the censors probably though it just another nonsense phrase from a couple of blokes known for making up nonsense phrases.
I agree with that- if the specific censor had never heard of finger pie, its use in the context of other foods would make it seem it was a British delicacy- very clever of Paul (or Paul 2, whoever wrote it)

Kind of like how Snoop Dogg or someone similar invented the word indo to mean pot, and it wasn't bleeped until word got of what meaning they gave to it, which is silly- if someone starts referring to meth as "pencil", then we may have songs bleeping pencil.
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Old 06-07-2019, 12:04 PM
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Before I was corrected, I used to think that "finger pie" was slang for eel pie.
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Old 06-07-2019, 12:19 PM
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another one, not AM but my local AOR station at the time would on occasion play the album version of "Miracles", with the line "I got a taste of the real world/when I went down on you girl" intact- ugh.
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Old 06-07-2019, 12:24 PM
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Personally I've always wondered how the Beatles got away with John orgasming through the outro of "Lovely Rita". Fish and finger pie is nothing compared to that.
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Old 06-07-2019, 01:01 PM
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My two favorite examples of "stuff that got right past the bleepers" are Jefferson Airplane's "We Can Be Together," which contains the lyric "up against the wall, motherfuckers" (around minute 3:20 or so) and it's plain as day. Never bleeped that I know of. The other is Steely Dan's "Show Business Kids," with the lyric "show business kids making movies of themselves you know they don't give a fuck about anybody else." Also never bleeped that I recall. Been on oldies radio forever and apparently nobody ever complained.

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Old 06-07-2019, 01:10 PM
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2. While "finger pie" was a euphemism for genital touching, it wasn't a widely known euphemism and the censors probably though it just another nonsense phrase from a couple of blokes known for making up nonsense phrases.
This, for sure. Take a look at the lyrics for "Come Together" or "I Am the Walrus" -- there's all sorts of word salad in there.

Now, take a 50-something American, back in 1967, who isn't familiar with current slang, and has no idea what "those kids" mean by just about anything they say, and give him the job of listening to songs for naughty words. All sorts of stuff is going to "get by" them.
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Old 06-07-2019, 01:17 PM
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This, for sure. Take a look at the lyrics for "Come Together" or "I Am the Walrus" -- there's all sorts of word salad in there.

Now, take a 50-something American, back in 1967, who isn't familiar with current slang, and has no idea what "those kids" mean by just about anything they say, and give him the job of listening to songs for naughty words. All sorts of stuff is going to "get by" them.
another great point- I can imagine someone reading the complete lyrics to "Come Together" and saying, ah fuck it, its good to go

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Old 06-07-2019, 01:42 PM
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My two favorite examples of "stuff that got right past the bleepers" are Jefferson Airplane's "We Can Be Together," which contains the lyric "up against the wall, motherfuckers" (around minute 3:20 or so) and it's plain as day. Never bleeped that I know of. The other is Steely Dan's "Show Business Kids," with the lyric "show business kids making movies of themselves you know they don't give a fuck about anybody else." Also never bleeped that I recall. Been on oldies radio forever and apparently nobody ever complained.
Apparently someone has because I heard a local radio station a few weeks ago play "Show Biz Kids" with the f-bomb-containing last verse entirely omitted (thereby blunting the point of the song). Similarly, FM rock stations played the album version of The Who's "Who Are You" for about 20 years without blipping the "who the fuck are you" line before suddenly deciding to play a "clean" version with "fuck" changed to "hell". Both these cases are proverbial examples of closing the barn door after the horse has escaped except that the horse escaped 40 years ago and has been dead for 30.

Incidentally, the "fish and finger pie" is not even the best example of the Beatles getting something past the censors for years. McCartney wrote "Got to Get You Into My Life" about his first experiences with marijuana andnobody caught on for over 40 years. I think we would still be in the dark had McCartney hadn't finally stated what the song was about.
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Old 06-07-2019, 01:47 PM
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Forgot all about "Who Are You," that's a good one. It's baffling to me that after all this time someone would decide that these old songs need the bleep treatment. There has to be some "cleanup" company out there just busily fucking over old music to suit these corporate garbage radio stations even though nobody's ever complained. It would be funny AF though, to send irate "How DARE you fuck with the music like that!" letters--I bet you could get Redditors to join a campaign like that. For the lulz.
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Old 06-07-2019, 01:58 PM
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Fish fingers are the British name for fish sticks, and fish finger pie is a pie made out of fish fingers. I agree "fish and finger pie" is probably John Lennon playing suggestively with words, like how in "Day Tripper" "big teaser" was a double entendre for "prick teaser."

She's a big teaser
She took me half the way there
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Old 06-07-2019, 02:03 PM
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Fish fingers are the British name for fish sticks, and fish finger pie is a pie made out of fish fingers. I agree "fish and finger pie" is probably John Lennon playing suggestively with words, like how in "Day Tripper" "big teaser" was a double entendre for "prick teaser."

She's a big teaser
She took me half the way there
See post #2. The term being discussed isn't "fish finger pie". It is "a four of fish and finger pie"
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Old 06-07-2019, 02:37 PM
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My guess is that there just wasn't as much censorship hysteria over things like this as you may assume. Others have said as much here, and I agree; unless something was overtly profane or generated a lot of complaints from the public, it went on the air.

Even today, censorship is more of a reactive act than a proactive one. So either most people didn't get the reference, or they did but weren't offended. As long as nobody made a stink (ha!) about it at the time, it was kind of a "no harm, no foul" situation.
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Old 06-07-2019, 03:09 PM
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See post #2. The term being discussed isn't "fish finger pie". It is "a four of fish and finger pie"
Still works for the misinterpretation. I, too always figured it was "fish and finger" pie, because Brits eat all sorts of weird shit like Spotted Dick and Toad in the Hole and Larks Tongues in Aspic.
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Old 06-07-2019, 03:26 PM
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The lyrics listed on the Blue Album compilation cover sleeve says "full of fish and finger pies in summer."
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Old 06-07-2019, 03:28 PM
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I don't recall ever hearing a censored version of Start Me Up by the Rolling Stones. "You made a dead man come." But that was early 80s I think.
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Old 06-07-2019, 04:04 PM
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There are bits of Liverpudlian slang in many Beatles song. It probably got through because the BBC was unfamiliar with it. Liverpool was like the North Pole as far as Londoners were concerned.

This I've seen "Ticket to Ride" as referring to a medical exam showing you had no STDs, and the "motor trade" in "She's Leaving Home" referring to an abortionist.
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Old 06-07-2019, 04:09 PM
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I'm another one who figured it was some kind of meat pie, and had no idea it was a double entendre. Doesn't surprise me, mind you.
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Old 06-07-2019, 04:22 PM
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My friends and I certainly didn't catch any hidden meaning from fish and finger pie. We probably just assumed it was some weird Brit thing like fish & chips. But I don't recall even giving this obscure lyric a second thought.

So many of the Beatles lyrics were almost incomprehensible. I gave up understanding the story in A Day in the Life decades ago. Don't even care anymore. It just clever words that go with the melody.

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Old 06-07-2019, 04:40 PM
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Forgot all about "Who Are You," that's a good one. It's baffling to me that after all this time someone would decide that these old songs need the bleep treatment. There has to be some "cleanup" company out there just busily fucking over old music to suit these corporate garbage radio stations even though nobody's ever complained. It would be funny AF though, to send irate "How DARE you fuck with the music like that!" letters--I bet you could get Redditors to join a campaign like that. For the lulz.
The song you hear today may not be the song that was played on the radio.

Back in the '60s record companies (at least the ones based in the U.S.) regularly sent 45 rpm singles to radio stations that were "Edited for Airplay." In fact, I believe some still do. Sometimes the edits were simply for time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Billy Joel [I
The Entertainer[/I])
You've heard my latest record
It's been on the radio
Ah, it took me years to write it
They were the best years of my life
It was a beautiful song
But it ran too long
If you're gonna have a hit
You gotta make it fit
So they cut it down to 3:05
Sometimes the possibly offensive lyric was rewritten and the artist (or maybe a soundalike) did an alternate take. The Lou Christie song Rhapsody in the Rain originally had the line "we were makin' out in the rain," which became "we fell in love in the rain." Sometimes the line was chopped out entirely, either skillfully or not.)

When I worked at an FM station in the Bible Belt during the 1970s, I had to excise the following portion of the Eagles' Life in the Fast Lane.

Quote:
She said, "Listen, baby
You can hear the engine ring
We've been up and down this highway
Haven't seen a god-damn thing"
He said, "Call the doctor
I think I'm gonna crash"
"The doctor say he's coming but you gotta pay in cash"

They were rushing down that freeway
Messed around and got lost
They didn't care, they were just dyin' to get off.
The possibly offensive word was "god-damn." Never mind that the entire song is about a cocaine habit, and there was an earlier verse about the couple having trouble having sex while they were coked up. I knew the one word my boss would hear, and insist we pull the song. But I couldn't just chop out one word because that would have been too easy to detect. My solution was to edit the section highlighted in red. No one said a word, not even the listeners who were Eagles fans.
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Old 06-07-2019, 04:42 PM
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This I've seen "Ticket to Ride" as referring to a medical exam showing you had no STDs, and the "motor trade" in "She's Leaving Home" referring to an abortionist.
I can't wrap my head around either of those. The girl that's driving him mad is going away...because she doesn't have gonorrhea? And a different girl has an abortion but in the chorus following immediately after describes her as having fun. Er, people come up with some nutso crap. Let's not even mention Brown Eyed Girl.
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Old 06-07-2019, 04:47 PM
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When I worked at an FM station in the Bible Belt during the 1970s, I had to excise the following portion of the Eagles' Life in the Fast Lane.


You weren't responsible for the Jethro Tull/Locmotive Breath "got him by the fun" edit were you?

Last edited by Helmut Doork; 06-07-2019 at 04:48 PM.
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Old 06-07-2019, 04:58 PM
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You weren't responsible for the Jethro Tull/Locmotive Breath "got him by the fun" edit were you?
Or Steve Miller's "funky kicks going down in the city"?
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Old 06-07-2019, 05:08 PM
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You weren't responsible for the Jethro Tull/Locmotive Breath "got him by the fun" edit were you?
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Or Steve Miller's "funky kicks going down in the city"?
Not guilty, but one time, just for fun, we took Rod Stewart's The Killing of Georgie, a song we unanimously agreed was too controversial for our station, and tried to edit into something we'd be comfortable playing. As I recall our final edit was something just over a minute long and mostly consisted of "Da da da da da da duh/ Da da da da da da duh/ Da da da da da da duh"

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Old 06-07-2019, 07:04 PM
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I can't wrap my head around either of those. The girl that's driving him mad is going away...because she doesn't have gonorrhea? And a different girl has an abortion but in the chorus following immediately after describes her as having fun. Er, people come up with some nutso crap. Let's not even mention Brown Eyed Girl.
1. The singer knows he can safely have sex with her, but she's going away. She doesn't care that he's horny.

2. She is having fun sexually, but discovers she is pregnant. It probably happened before before she left and could be there reason she left.

"Please Please Me" clearly refers to a blowjob
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Old 06-07-2019, 07:13 PM
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Personally I've always wondered how the Beatles got away with John orgasming through the outro of "Lovely Rita". Fish and finger pie is nothing compared to that.
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There are bits of Liverpudlian slang in many Beatles song.
Don't know if this was strictly Liverpool, but "A soap impression of his wife which he ate and donated to the National Trust" (...consumed and subsequently defecated")
  #44  
Old 06-07-2019, 07:55 PM
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I can't wrap my head around either of those. The girl that's driving him mad is going away...because she doesn't have gonorrhea? And a different girl has an abortion but in the chorus following immediately after describes her as having fun. Er, people come up with some nutso crap. Let's not even mention Brown Eyed Girl.
The "Ticket to Ride" story comes from journalist Don Short, and is almost certainly just John Lennon screwing with him:

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However, Don Short, who was a journalist who travelled quite regularly with The Beatles, remembers John explaining things very differently. As related in Steve Turner’s book “A Hard Day’s Write,” Don relates: “The girls who worked the streets in Hamburg had to have a clean bill of health and so the medical authorities would give them a card saying that they didn’t have a dose of anything. I was with The Beatles when they went back to Hamburg in June 1966 and it was then that John told me that he had coined the phrase ‘a ticket to ride’ to describe these cards. He could have been joking – you always had to be careful with John like that – but I certainly remember him telling me that.”
From here.
  #45  
Old 06-08-2019, 03:27 AM
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So because it could mean touching the outside of the genitals instead of insertion, that was enough not to censor it? No other radio song of this era comes close to mentioning anything close to heavy petting.
"Rock and Roll Kootchie Koo" has the line: "Come on, little pussy, gonna do it to you."
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Old 06-08-2019, 03:33 AM
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My two favorite examples of "stuff that got right past the bleepers" are Jefferson Airplane's "We Can Be Together," which contains the lyric "up against the wall, motherfuckers" (around minute 3:20 or so) and it's plain as day. Never bleeped that I know of. The other is Steely Dan's "Show Business Kids," with the lyric "show business kids making movies of themselves you know they don't give a fuck about anybody else." Also never bleeped that I recall. Been on oldies radio forever and apparently nobody ever complained.
Did they ever crack the Top 40, though? I've never heard that Steely Dan played on the radio, and I've only heard "We Can Be Together," played a few times, usually on college or independent stations.
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Old 06-08-2019, 04:22 AM
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Kind of like how Snoop Dogg or someone similar invented the word indo to mean pot, and it wasn't bleeped until word got of what meaning they gave to it, which is silly- if someone starts referring to meth as "pencil", then we may have songs bleeping pencil.
My favorite in that regard was when Musical Youth used Dutchie as an intended oblique reference to marijuana, but everyone assumed it was an overt reference they didn't know yet, so it became a term for a type of joint.
  #48  
Old 06-08-2019, 08:29 AM
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My favorite in that regard was when Musical Youth used Dutchie as an intended oblique reference to marijuana, but everyone assumed it was an overt reference they didn't know yet, so it became a term for a type of joint.
The song was a cover, and the original is called Pass the Kouchie, which was Rasta for a dope pipe. The Musical Youth version was a weak attempt at obscuring that fact.
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Old 06-08-2019, 08:58 AM
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Who'd figured that a genre whose name itself has been a euphemism for intercourse for over a century would have other, similar, euphemisms in lyrics.
  #50  
Old 06-08-2019, 09:06 AM
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Who'd figured that a genre whose name itself has been a euphemism for intercourse for over a century would have other, similar, euphemisms in lyrics.
That's why I used the word "literally" in reply #3.
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