Tuning into the car radio is a big turn off. The relentless hum of racy songs on every station is putting a damper on carpool time with my 11-year-old son. Does he really need to have “Girl all I really want is you down on me, put it down on me” stuck in his noggin all day?
Do I, for that matter?
When I was a kid, my mother would change the dial if any song even remotely hinted at sex. Thunder Island got kicked off thanks to its suggestive line, “In the sun with your dress undone,” long before the blatant refrain, “Making love out on Thunder Island.” Muskrat Love also got the boot because “Muzzle to muzzle, now anything goes” was far too risqué, even for rodents in heat. But mom’s button pushing also increased the odds of hearing Stepping Stone by my harmless fake boyfriends, the Monkees, so I was all for it.
I think a lot of songs got past her, though, thanks to some silly allegory. Neither of us had any idea that My Sharona was anything other than goofy fun as we blithely sang along. There are others we missed, too, thanks to the possibility of multiple interpretations.
Conversely, we swooned at the sweetest and most unassuming love songs, like Glen Campbell’s Wichita Lineman who crooned, “And I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time.” Hear it again, here.
Swoon central. I couldn’t wait to grow up and have lifelong amore with the lineman of my dreams. Glen’s song – and perfect pitch – made my mom lovesick, too. Once we arrived at home, she’d put on a nice dress for dinner with my dad. Romance filled the air, joining the wafts of Saturday night’s Hungry-Man Salisbury steak.
Thirty-five years later finds me in the driver’s seat.
Now my car radio is practically on permanent scan to shelter my son from the onslaught of overtly explicit lyrics. Case in point is Maroon 5’s hit Sugar – on heavy rotation on every single station since last summer. On first listen, I allowed myself to be seduced into thinking that Adam Levine was comparing his girlfriend to a piece of cake: “I want that red velvet, I want that sugar sweet, Don’t let nobody touch it, Unless that somebody’s me.” Sadly, his barely there metaphor requires minimal interpretation.
Elsewhere on the dial, my son’s fake girlfriend Meghan Trainor is telling us that her mama said, “boys like a little more booty to hold at night.” Okay, missy, it’s one thing to be all about that bass – a much-needed anthem for actual-size females – but it’s another to be all about that sex. Beyoncé was right, I’m not ready for that jelly, and neither is my pre-tween son.
I’m reluctant to admit – especially in this context – that songs like these have an adverse affect on my sex drive as well as my commute. None of them make me want to put on a fancy dress and seduce my husband (of 18 years) out there on Thunder Island. Quite frankly, I’d prefer a muumuu and a nap.
Indeed, the only thing going down is my head on the pillow. I feel bad about my sagging bottom that’s not keeping up with Kanye’s Kardashian. I’m pretty sure I don’t moan melodiously like Taylor Swift does in her Wildest Dreams.
And thanks to menopause, dear Adam, my sugar is more like artificial sweetener.
Maybe I should blame my carnal reluctance on some kind of oppositional disorder because I’m certainly no prude. By the time Chrissy Amphlett of the Divinyls was belting out “I touch myself” in 1991, much of my life was below the belt.
Cut to 2015 and it sounds like pop stars are saying how much cooler their sex lives are than mine – or yours – ever was. As if they invented the act! I feel defeated by the bravado and machismo in their lyrics, not to mention their references to coital calisthenics – some of which make Olivia Newton John’s song “Physical” sound tame. Remember that video?
There’s also the possibility that I’m ready to leave to the table at which these young-pup pop stars have just begun to eat. Or, I suppose, there’s a remote chance that my frigid reaction to their music is a side effect of a medication I take. I can see the new warning label now: These pills may make you intolerant of explicit lyrics which could later manifest as a lowered libido.
Perhaps I should be listening to CDs in the car, or a hand-picked Spotify playlist. But where’s the mystery in that? I still want to be tuned into the random world – where music and people and places catch us by surprise and stir up emotion. Knowing what’s coming whenever you turn on the stereo would be like having Salisbury Steak for dinner every night. Besides, every so often, Glen Campbell comes on the radio to tell me that the Wichita Lineman is still on the line.