Writing songs for the Canadian market? Mind your language!

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Record-Producer.com.

Friday January 14, 2011
FREE EBOOK DOWNLOAD ►

It is important not to cause offense these days, particularly when in some jurisdictions it is the person who is being offended who decides whether or not an offense has been caused.

Writing songs for the Canadian market? Mind your language!

Words can offend, there is no doubt of that, and most of us wouldn't dream of using certain words that are widely held as being offensive.

But words can change in their meanings, and the threshold of offensiveness changes over time.

So certain words that could have been used at one time may not be permissible now. Whether it is their meaning or their degree of offensiveness that has changed would be open for debate in individual cases.

So here's the song...

Cover your ears around 1.48, 1.56 and 2.00.

Well I'm not going to repeat the word here and get banned in Canada too, but I can tell you from a close and detailed reading of Wikipedia that it means a bundle of sticks and that no-one really knows why it has become a word that could cause offense.

However that isn't the point. If it is used as an offensive word, then it is offensive. I think that is reasonable to say.

What is unreasonable though is the banning of this song, or at least this verse, from the airwaves.

This song is unusual in that the lyrics are written in first person. And it is not the singer Mark Knopfler who is telling the story, it is a character he has invented.

So if the character is the person who is prone to the use of offensive language, then it is a feature of the art that is this song.

But according to the logic of the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, you can't create fictional characters who use offensive language and incorporate their words into a song. Well you can, but it won't be broadcast.

Oh by the way, here's another song on the same topic. Once again the performers are singing in character. Cover your ears at 2.12...

Legend has it that when Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl performed the song on Top of the Pops, as shown above, in December 1987, the BBC insisted that the word 'arse' should be replaced by 'ass', which in the UK means nothing other than a donkey. The other word remained. How times change...

Like, follow, and comment on this article at Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram or the social network of your choice.

Come on the Audio Masterclass Pro Home Studio MiniCourse - 60 great hints and tips to get your home recording studio MOVING

It's FREE!

Get It Now >>

An interesting microphone setup for violinist Nigel Kennedy

Are you compressing too much? Here's how to tell...

If setting the gain correctly is so important, why don't mic preamplifiers have meters?

The Internet goes analogue!

How to choose an audio interface

Audio left-right test. Does it matter?

Electric guitar - compress before the amp, or after?

What is comb filtering? What does it sound like?

NEW: Audio crossfades come to Final Cut Pro X 10.4.9!

What is the difference between EQ and filters? *With Audio*

What difference will a preamp make to your recording?

Watch our video on linear phase filters and frequency response with the FabFilter Pro Q 2

Read our post on linear phase filters and frequency response with the Fabfilter Pro Q 2

Harmonic distortion with the Soundtoys Decapitator

What's the best height for studio monitors? Answer - Not too low!

What is the Red Book standard? Do I need to use it? Why?

Will floating point change the way we record?

Mixing: What is the 'Pedalboard Exception'?

The difference between mic level and line level

The problem with parallel compression that you didn't know you had. What it sounds like and how to fix it.

Compressing a snare drum to even out the level

What does parallel compression on vocals sound like?

How to automate tracks that have parallel compression

Why mono is better than stereo for recording vocals and dialogue