WHO said the f-word?

Most songs for radio airplay are edited for profanity. Oh, sure, you’ll occasionally hear the odd “shit,” but even that is often edited out.

Why is it, however, that the Who song “Who Are You” is not edited? The phrase “Who the fuck are you?” can be very clearly discerned at least twice in the song. Other classic rock songs of the same generation can be heard to be edited for much less vulgar profanity on the very same radio stations on which you hear this tune.

“I am a news-paper man, damn it! Come to the point with me, sir, or take your business elsewhere!” - T. Herman Zweibel, Publisher, The Onion

It always amused me to see which stations would edit “Bitch” (the song, not the word). That doesn’t answer your question, but. . . what was your question?


The Power Of Christ: 2000 years and He hasn’t come yet!

To tighten it up a bit, why does the Who get to say “fuck” on the radio in the song “Who are You,” and no other rock and rollers do?

Jefferson Airplane get to say “motherfucker” on the rare occasions when classic rock stations play “We Can Be Together.”

Both songs are at least 25 years old, and the cuss words don’t exactly leap out at you – you have to be paying attention to the lyrics to hear them at all. My guess is that the Powers That Be just don’t listen to older songs very closely.

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Hell, if you listen carefully, you’ll notice that the chant at the end of “I am the Walrus” is “Everybody’s fucked up.”

The FCC only goes into action if someone complains. If the word is buried in the lyrics, and reaches the fans of the group, they don’t get complaints, so don’t do anything.

“East is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does.” – Marx

Read “Sundials” in the new issue of Aboriginal Science Fiction. www.sff.net/people/rothman

For the ultimate in censoring, ad nausium, listen to Everlast’s “What It’s Like”. I heard it on a station that edited out the words “drugs”, “Colt 45”, even “dead”. Jesus, gimme a break! Why did they even play the song in the first place? I had to go out and buy the CD just to find out what the song was about.

“I had a feeling that in Hell there would be mushrooms.” -The Secret of Monkey Island

Member posted 01-02-2000 02:04

No! The chant is “Smoke pot, smoke pot, everybody smoke pot!” :slight_smile:

The Kinks get away with the F-word in the ape man song. Don’t know the name of the song, but I bet it’s “Ape Man” in which they say, “The pollution is fuckin up my eyes.”

It’s funny, I saw “Stand By Me” on TV last night. They censored the “ass” out of “Lardass”. So when they chant “Lardass! Lardass!” in the movie, it was reduced to a very staccato “Lard- Lard-” on TV. It was either incredibly annoying or very funny.

  • Boris B, Hellacious Ornithologist

There’s also Harry Nilsson’s “You’re Breaking My Heart.” No question what’s being said there; we used to ask the freshmen at our college radio station to play it as a minor hazing.

“East is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does.” – Marx

Read “Sundials” in the new issue of Aboriginal Science Fiction. www.sff.net/people/rothman

Can someone answer a censoring question for me? On some of the non-premium cable stations (Comedy Central, for instance), you hear all kinds of swearing, except for the “god” in “goddamn.” You’d think if they were going to edit something, it would be the “damn.” What’s the deal?

“Damn!” is simply profanity. “God!” is blasphamy. The anti-blasphemers (churchys) are better organized than the anti-profanity people.

I’m of the opinion that if a TV or Radio station doesn’t have the balls to air a work (song, film, whatever) in its entirity and unaltered, they shouldn’t air it at all.

According to John Lennon (I believe he said it in the 1970 Jann Wenner interview), the chant at the end of “I Am the Walrus” is “Got one, got one, everybody’s got one”. Ray Davies says in the liner notes to the Kinks’ “Singles Collection” that the line in “Apeman” is “The air pollution is foggin’ up my eyes”.

a little technical detail: rarely do stations edit the songs they play…the record label or the promotion firm sends out copies of the single with mixes and edits on it, so rarely do radio stations have to make their own edits

that everlast song had 6 mixes i think…
long and short versions of:
album version…swears left in
drop out version…swears (and all audio) removed from offending portions of songs
scratch version…swears replaced with record scratching

and now that i think about it…i think they had bad version (all swears) radio versions (nasty words out, “bitch” and gun/drug references left in) and video versions (which is always the worst : all bad (swears, violence, drug) refenences taken out)

so that’d be 7 versions. and the radio station got to choose which version they wanted to play. and it’s all about community standards. howard stern wouldn’t fly in macomb, IL (where i go to school) but bigger cities is fine. a station playing him in macomb would probably get some complaints, whereas in chicago, proably not. bigger cities harden people.

In addition to “Who the fuck are you?” and the other listed tunes, the Steely Dan song Show Biz Kids got some air play in the mid-1970s. Toward the end of the song, one of the verses contains the line, “Show business Kids making movies of themselves, You know they don’t give a fuck about anybody else.” Heard this one in Detroit and Dallas.

Also, the Guns & Roses song Mr. Brownstone got some air play in the late 1980s, despite the line, “But that old man he’s a real motherfucker, Gonna kick him on down the line.” Only heard this in Phoenix.

Maybe it depends on the station’s music director.

Lawrence: That would be somewhat of a stretch. IMHO, the words “Everybody smoke(s) pot” are discernable, especially if you use headphones. Guess I’ll have to double check.

Omni–it may sound like it, but Lennon (the songwriter) said the line is “everybody’s got one.” He wanted an ambiguous line, so listeners could decide what the “one” was.

And for the record, John does NOT say “I burried Paul.”

Here in Columbus, OH USA, the same station that plays Everlast’s unedited “What it’s like” (“Get a job you fkin slob") plays the edited version of of Steve Miller’s “Jet Airliner” (“Funky kicks going down in the city” instaed of the original "Funky st…”)


There are TWO separate things going on at the end of “I Am The Walrus.” A chorus of women is singing, “Everybody’s got one, everybody’s got one,” while a chorus of men is singing, “Ommpah, ommpah, stick it up your jumper.” typically silly Lennon-ism, and the overlapping of the two accounts for the often misheard lyrics. (I believe this is from Mark Lewisohn’s “The Beatles Recording Sessions,” but I’ll have to check when I’m at home.)

“It’s my considered opinion you’re all a bunch of sissies!”–Paul’s Grandfather

I’m deviating from my own OP here a bit, but Guy, I wouldn’t accept Lennon’s explanation of “Everybody’s Got One” as gospel, just because that is what he said.

Lennon and McCartney both maintained that “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” was not a reference to LSD. (For anybody out there that doesn’t get it, Lucy-Sky-Diamonds= LSD.)

What a load of B.S. Listen to the lyrics of that song, note how unusual the title is and what phase of their careers the Beatles were in at the time. Yeah, right, John and Paul.

“I am a news-paper man, damn it! Come to the point with me, sir, or take your business elsewhere!” - T. Herman Zweibel, Publisher, The Onion

Call me old fashioned, but when the guy that wrote the song tells me the lyrics, I believe him.

Lennon was a very straight spoken man, and not one to mince words (this is the man, after all, that said the Beatles were bigger than God). If he had wanted to write a lyric that said “everybody smokes pot”, he would have.

The title of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” came from a drawing young Julian Lennon made for his dad.