The Charleston Gazette-Mail does a weekly seasonal music column called "Sounds of Summer." It's written on a rotating basis by randomly-selected staff members. I was asked to contribute to a mid-August issue. I looked at the past issues and thought that people were taking it way too seriously; nobody really cares what music we love and what touches us deeply. So, I wanted to have some fun with it. I thought of funny stories involving me and women in my past, added some song titles that related to it, and turned it in. I was told we couldn't print that one, as it was a bit too scandalous. I decided to write a second column. I wanted it to be edgy and funny, and I did that. Without mentioning the word directly, I wrote a column detailing my favorite songs that say "goddamn" in the lyrics -- Fall Out Boy, Panic At The Disco, Foo Fighters, Weezer, etc. I was told it was "too edgy." They say that the 3rd time is the charm, so I decided to write about my favorite musicians who died when they were 27.
The first column can be found by clicking here.
The second column is below. I told a couple friends about my idea and they helped out a little bit. My friend Melisa gave me Fall Out Boy, while my friend Eric suggested Panic at the Disco. I came up with the rest.
The third column was printed by the newspaper and is on their website, found by clicking here.
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By Chris Slater
One of my favorite fictional characters is God. The stories about him are grand. Created a universe. Talking bushes. Snakes and apples. He’s a lot like Magneto: he has so much power and makes a lot of bad decisions, but he has the best intentions. He is revered so much that we aren’t allowed to speak his name in vain. It’s in his list of 10 random rules. It’s above killing people and stealing and non-monogamy.
I love the power that God has to take one of the most casual swear words around, “damn,” and suddenly turn it into something cringeworthy that people hate. Just stick God right there in front of that simple word and you’ve bumped up to a whole new level of swearing. It’s right there with the F one and the S one and the C one. I’m not talking about coal.
With that said, here are my favorite songs by respected artists that feature that incorrigible, filthy word.
“This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race,” Fall Out Boy ... I automatically have to like any band that gets their name from an obscure Simpsons reference. My favorite use of profanity is when it doesn’t add anything to the original point; they’re just words to take up space. And that’s the case here. It’s not just an “arms race,” it’s a, well, you know.
“Stranger Things Have Happened,” Foo Fighters ... This is one of the few songs that Dave Grohl and company have never performed live. That’s likely because it’s one of the most personal songs Grohl has ever written. For the funny, charismatic public persona that he puts out there, he writes a lot of troubling, sad music. With this one, the offending phrase is used to help describe the empty room he finds himself in.
“I Write Sins Not Tragedies,” Panic! At The Disco ... It took me a while to warm up to this band. I was in college when they first came out, and all my friends loved them so much that I think I disliked them out of spite. In this tale of infidelity at a wedding, the star of Broadway’s “Kinky Boots” uses the naughtiest of swears to implore people to keep a door closed.
“Original Prankster,” The Offspring ... The 90s punk group with the highest-selling independent album of all time are still going strong on the nostalgia tour circuit. They typically make two kinds of songs: really poignant ones about internal strife, such as “Gone Away” or “Defy You” or sophomoric pop-rock hits like “Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)” and this one. What I like about this song’s profanity is that there is literally zero need for it. It just exists as a word get from one thought to the other. Nothing more, nothing less.
“El Scorcho,” Weezer ... The title comes from a packet of hot sauce. Aside from its references to mid 90s wrestlers New Jack and Johnny Grunge, I like this song because of its exuberant, happy-sounding shouting of the worst curse word out there. And also because of nonsense lyrics like “The redhead said you shred the cello, and I’m Jell-O, baby.”
Chris Slater is a copy editor with the Charleston Gazette-Mail. His first “Sounds of Summer” contained too many tales of sex and debauchery and was deemed unfit for print. Follow him on twitter, @chris_slater.