“If you got bad news, you want to kick them blues / Cocaine / When your day is done, and you want to run / Cocaine / She don’t lie, she don’t lie, she don’t lie / Cocaine.”
Glorifying drugs is not great. Just a few barely noticeable tweaks in a rerecording, and we’re good to go:
“If you got to boozin’ and want to keep from snoozin’ / Caffeine / When your day commences, to hold on to your senses / Caffeine / Don’t get high, don’t get high, don’t get high / Caffeine.”
Next up, Ringo Starr
“You come on like a dream / Peaches and cream / Lips like strawberry wine / You’re 16, you’re beautiful, and you’re mine.”
Nononono. Horrible on many levels. Instead:
“You come on with real class / You’re cookin’ with gas / You got cute but low-maintenance textured hair / You’re 44, you’re defending your dissertation, and we’re a mutually respectful pair.”
"Nine Bullets," by Drive-By Truckers
“My roommate’s gun got nine bullets in it / Nine bullets in my roommate’s gun / My roommate’s gun got nine bullets in it / I’m gonna find a use for every last one./ One for the love who chose to betray me ...”
This dreadful ode to violence has to go. For your consideration:
“My housemate’s fridge has nine pullets in it / Nine pullets in my housemate’s room. / Gonna cook up some chicken for his non-ostentatious weddin’ / Tikka masala for the bride and groom!”
"Short People" by Randy Newman
“Short people got no reason to live / They got little hands and little eyes / And they walk around / tellin’ great big lies.”
“Shout people got no reason to live. / They’re thunderous bores and spit-talk in roars, / They blast when they sneeze and when they cut the cheese.”
"Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds"
Obviously objectionable. It can be rescued with a more wholesome acronym: “Torie in the Library With Chaucer.”
"Puff the Magic Dragon"
Its unwholesome marijuana references (Little Jackie Paper?) get defanged by renaming the central character “Puff the Magic Police Breathalyzer.”
And finally ... The Boss
“Hey, little girl, is your daddy home? / Did he go and leave you all alone? / I got a bad desire. / Oh, oh, oh, I’m on fire.”
The Boss, rescued from himself:
“Hey, little girl, is your daddy home? / Did he go and leave you all alone? / I got a bad ... / Oh, oh, whew, there’s your dad!”
Email Gene Weingarten at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find chats and updates at washingtonpost.com/magazine.
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