Comment from Peter Saxon
About 10 days ago 96.5 KOIT and other stations in the San Francisco Bay Area started to ban a 75 year old classic song called Baby It’s Cold Outside. Written in 1944 by Frank Loesser, who also wrote the score for Guys and Dolls, the song had become a Christmas favourite in north America where it can become very bloody cold outside, indeed, at that time of the year.
Invariably sung as a duet, the song is acted out as a man that tries every trick in the book to keep a woman from going home by suggesting to her that the benefits of staying with him in his cosy apartment far outweigh risking the elements that lie on the other side of his door.
If the song had been written today, Mr Loesser may have added the further danger of bands of hoodied hip hop artists roaming the streets forcing impressionable youth to listen to misogynist lyrics far worse than his.
It is then somewhat intriguing that rap and hip hop seems to have been issued a leave pass by the same politically correct community that condemns standards from a bygone era.
If they thought Baby It’s Cold Outside was misogynist then they should give Burt Bacharach’s 1963 hit Wives and Lovers a spin. Covered by Frank Sinatra, Dionne Warwick and made famous by Jack Jones the lyrics start with…
Comb your hair, fix your makeup
Soon he will open the door
Don’t think because there’s a ring on your finger
You needn’t try anymore
For wives should always be lovers too
Run to his arms the moment he comes home to you
And it only gets worse from there.
Or take the lyric from Nat King Cole’s, Walking My Baby Back Home. It’s more subtle, innocuous even to those not searching for offense, But the inference of uninvited amorous attention is palpable.
I dry her tears all through the night
It is unlikely that any of these songs from the 1950’s and 60’s would have been written or recorded in the post #metoo era today. Back then the lyrics were totally unremarkable. But that was then and this is now. Times have changed.
The question, though, is whether we should ban, censor or repress anything from the past that doesn’t conform to today’s cultural norms? Was it a good move by post renaissance clergy to cover the naughty bits so lovingly sculpted by Michelangelo or Donatello? Should we have public book burnings of material that no longer conforms to social mores?
Are we all so sensitive to any offense we might take that we need to rush to a safe place at the very thought.
Surely, we possess the wit to understand and learn from the past. Surely we can watch a Bette Davis or Humphrey Bogart movie in which they lit and stubbed out countless cigarettes and shake our heads and say to ourselves or our kids, “Can you believe there was a time when just about everyone smoked?”
For the record, after the intial complaints, KOIT pulled four different versions of Baby It’s Cold Outside from it’s playlist only to endure a bigger backlash. So, they put a poll on their website to find that 90% of listeners wanted the song played.
Here’s an updated, politically correct version of Baby It’s Cold Outside.