Just a thought… Experience doesn’t come with age. Experience comes with doing things, trying things or even thinking things. [James Blacker]
We’ll get to the “Baby It’s Cold Outside” discussion in a second…but I want to start today with a special shout-out to a woman who is tiny in stature but occupies a great big place in our hearts.
Helen Moase today turns 89 years old and she’s the very example of strength and heart. Shortly after Helen’s husband, our very dear friend and former bandmate Carl, passed away in 2004, she suffered a heart attack. Those of us who know this couple just weeks away from marking their 50th wedding anniversary, also know that Helen was suffering from a broken heart, as many are saying helped contribute to the passing of 41st US President George H.W. Bush only eight months after his wife Barbara died.
But Helen was fortunate in that she was still able to fight: she decided to do whatever it took to return to good health, determined that her children were not going to bury two parents in one year. And I’m happy to say that, not only did she recover fully, but Helen went on to volunteer at the same hospital that treated her, so that she could help others who’d gone through what she’d endured, to recover and find good health again.
Soon she’ll mark the milestone of being the longest-serving volunteer there and we couldn’t be prouder of our friend, who was, in addition to being married to a man that Rob considered to be like his father in many ways, Lauren’s surrogate grandmother. She’s a part of our family and this is a big day. And here she is with the tiniest member of our family at our old place on Lake Simcoe: Molly on the couch and almost on Helen’s shoulder!
From the sublime to the (possibly) ridiculous: I’ve had people asking my opinion here this week on the fact that radio stations are opting out of playing the holiday season staple “Baby It’s Cold Outside” because of its lascivious lyrics. I guess I’m asked because Mike Cooper and I did a version that was played every Christmas season on CHFI. It was fun, silly and sounded like two very good, hammy friends flirting with each other (as we did – with hopeless, helpless abandon and to the amusement of our spouses).
Here’s a link to our version (which you weren’t going to hear on the air again anyway). You be the judge. To me the most offensive part of this song may well be how we digitally down-tuned the instrumental track so that the band sounded like they’d been on a three-day binge! But Mike and I have a shared vocal range that is, shall we say, limited. (Mike wrote yesterday and said, “Thanks for making me sound like a perv.” Ah, Mike!)
The issue that has come to light thanks to a CBC article is that the lyrics just aren’t acceptable in a post-#metoo era. Of course, some call it the Golden Age of Being Offended.
Like the true Libra I am, I’m of two minds. (We’re all about weighing all the options and still being unable to pick one damned thing off the menu.) I’ve read comments on that CBC site and a great many of them are from men who basically say “lighten up or change the channel.” One part of me agrees wholeheartedly. As the comedian Ricky Gervais put it, just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right.
But…what if they are? What if they are right? The lyrics to this Oscar-winning song include, “Hey, what’s in this drink?” (which I assumed meant he’d put booze in, but others’ minds go in a more Cosby-like direction) and his relentless pursuit of a woman who keeps on saying no – again and again. Clearly, he wants her to stay and fool around. I hear that as a fun song. But is the song instead deep down about rape or a lack of consent?
Here’s where interpretation – the ear of the beholder, if you will – comes in. As with almost anything we experience, it’s a matter of our own personal filters. If you were in a position where you were concerned you couldn’t get out of a tight situation that might have turned into assault – or God forbid, you weren’t able to – I can understand finding that song triggering or disturbing.
For others, it’s a hokey and dated song about a guy trying to get lucky. Is she resisting because her aunt and her parents say “no,” is she playing a cat-and-mouse game (and remember this song is well over 50 years old) or is it JUST A SONG?
Some who posted on the CBC’s comments cited lyrics in other songs that get radio airplay despite their controversial content. And they’re right. But once again – your radio has buttons. You have a choice to change the channel or to mute the song, which is what I do whenever I hear certain songs at this time of year. (For the record, they’re not because they make me sad – only “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” does that – but because I just can’t stand them or heard them waaaaaaay too many times from 5am to 9am over the years.)
Does a person have the right to be offended? Absolutely. Does everyone have to agree? Of course not. And the last time I checked, radio stations are allowed to choose which songs they do and do not play. Usually it’s dictated by popularity, what fits a format and what listeners prefer to hear. Right now, one song is probably not the hill many program or music directors want to die on, so it gets put away.
Now, can we get back to things that really matter? Like thanking volunteers. People who look beyond the everyday minutiae to help others. That works for me. Thank you, Helen, and Happy Birthday.