Comparing and contrasting the wholesome lyrics of my youth with what passes as music today

photo credit: Stormtrooper via photopin (license)
photo credit: Stormtrooper via photopin (license)

Missing: One cheap little MP3 player and lots of 70’s stuff on it.

Last seen in the presence of a kid who looks a lot like me. DNA testing would be conclusive, I’m sure. It’s true … that’s AC/DC’s “Back in Black” and “Hells Bells” ringing in Madison’s ears through her stolen electronics.

But at least it’s not songs from role models Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus, or Lil Kim.

I got the MP3 free for earning points after drinking more Coke products than recommended by the Surgeon General. (My pancreas may never rust if what they say about Coke’s bumper-cleansing properties rings true.)

Among the songs on it: A good smattering of Electric Light Orchestra, Los Lonely Boys, and Paul McCartney & Wings.

As a 70’s kid, I listened to such wholesome ditties as Starland Vocal Band’s “Afternoon Delight” and Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker” (Marie’s take: “He’s not talking about peaches, is he?”). Geez, in the ’80s, there was George Michael’s song, “I Want Your Sex.”

photo credit: KE$HA via photopin (license)
photo credit: KE$HA via photopin (license)

It started with disco …

And yet, I don’t want my kids listening to Sean King’s “Suicidal” or “Get Low” by Flo Rida (even though they play it at our wholesome school’s skate night), or pretty much anything by Ke$ha (although dad likes her a lot more than he should).

Our musical biography begins at age 7 or 8 and continues about 2 years after formal schooling. For me, that launched late in disco, survived Men at Work, Flock of Seagulls, and C&C Music Factory.

It wound down with the Spin Doctors, Creed, and Hootie and the Blowfish.

Years ago, my sister loaded my idle MP3 player with glimmers of our childhood (ELO) and culture (Los Lonely Boys). Now, I’m finding the lyrics to “Mr. Blue Sky” among the kids’ piles of homework and sketches.

They dig the mechanical action intro to “Silly Love Song” and they love “Heaven,” by Los Lonely Boys.

When I was a kid, you knew who sang the wholesome stuff and who was dirty. Crystal clear … Or was it? I remember my cousin Lawrence deciphering the album cover to REO Speedwagon’s “Hi Infidelity” to me. (Had nothing to do with Dolby Stereo.

Was that really 30 years ago?)

photo credit: Elvis non sports cards via photopin (license)
photo credit: Elvis non sports cards via photopin (license)

Deep conversations

At bedtime, song safety once reigned with my girls. I could croon a little Elvis, maybe some Harry Connick, Jr. or Otis Redding to the girls. “Hey, Jude” got us talking about its meaning. Same with “Let it Be.”

“Across the Universe” was a favorite.

My girls enjoyed “Swinging on a Starso much that I wrote three new verses about a crab, a snail, and a skunk. Camdyn, I love that you thought of our daddy when you heard “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars, but you may not sing the “The Lazy Song.”

Madison, I love hearing you sing “Firework” by Katy Perry, but don’t let me catch you and Hayden looking up lyrics to “Teenage Dream” again.

Why not listen to the reflective lyrics of Paul Simon’s album “Rhythm of the Saints”?

How about the Beatles’ “White Album”? The lyrics in George Michael’s “Listen Without Prejudice” address materialism, self-confidence, and society’s betrayal of God. George Michael also had a song called “Faith,” if I remember correctly.

Back when lyrics meant something.

Where are those lyrics? Ah, here we go:

Well I guess it would be nice
If I could touch your body
I know not everybody
Has got a body like you…

Um, never mind.

wirthlin quote modern music


  1. Chris Carter says:

    SO awesome!! I can relate COMPLETELY to so much of the music you shared, as I still LOVE all the 70’s and 80’s music and remember fondly every. single. lyric. 🙂 Damn, now I can’t get that song outa my head, thank you very much!!

    1. Thanks Chris – and I’m so glad stations don’t refer to *our* music as “oldies,” yet. We need to make sure we give our kids a break from Pink and Cher Lloyd with a steady diet of Billy Joel, Chicago and Crowded House. And it could be worse – the song stuck in your head could be “Hot Hot Hot,” “Pump Up the Jam” or “Party All The Time” (did you forget Eddie Murphy’s singing career, too?)

  2. My oldest knows a lot of ’80’s stuff b/c he was the judge when Hubby & I would play “name that tune first” with our Billboard cds! They bring back memories of school dances in middle school…while it reminds Hubby of his days working in a garage (there’s 10 yrs between us). I wasn’t allowed to listen to a lot of music, so now that I’m a “grown-up” (Ha!), I’m enjoying the “retro” music of the 80’s this time around! It must be time to dig out those cds again! Maybe Little Guy would like to be our judge!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      That’s how to raise them, Jenn! The mechanic and the younger girl … isn’t there a musical written for you two? You’re rebelling like the kid who’s raised vegetarian binging on hot dogs.

      80s stuff is consicered oldies now … what does that make us?

      1. Oldies but goodies! 🙂

  3. doyourjob says:

    Awesome stroll down “real music” memory lane. I will say, however, that I am a HUGE rap fan. Sometimes I forget that not everyone appreciates the nuances in a good raunchy Eminem song! Great post, great memories!

    1. This Top 40 (do they still call it that? Because I could swear they play the same seven songs over and over and over, and those seven songs use the same seven words over and over and over) stuff drives me nuts, and makes me wonder how bands like Kool and the Gang and Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band like the current music scene.

      I’m actually not surprised at your affinity for rap – your blog drips of it, and the combo of mom and rap fan is kinda like putting that candy-shell sugar stuff on a double-scoop waffle ice cream cone – it’s just more incentive to come back for more.

      Eminem has this infectious blend of brilliancy and repulsiveness that really melds well in an angry rap. My girls and I would love to see what lyrical fireworks would fly if Eminem and Pink ever dated.


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