It’s a real bummer discovering that your favorite song from one of your favorite bands has an “explicit” version in which you can FINALLY understand the lyrics, and they a) don’t make sense, and b) have completely gratuitous profanity.
The song is “Promise” by Eve 6.
Lemme say first that in general I love the lyrics from Eve 6. They’re evocative, poetic, and extremely literate. That they bind these lyrics to kickin’ crunch-chords and a great beat only improves the delivery.
I don’t get out and buy albums much anymore now that I’m not running sound for a comedy troupe, so the only Eve 6 album I have is their first one. Yesterday I bought some singles via iTunes, and I paid for “Promise” by Eve 6 twice — once for the non-explicit “radio” version, and once for the explicit version.
The lyric in question runs like this:
“I promise not to try not to [mute] with your mind”
In the non-explicit version the odd turn of grammar and the clutter of instruments masks what should have been obvious. Even if you’re not familiar with the song, you probably know what’s going to go in the [mute] spot.
Consider first the double-negative. “I promise not to try not to…” means, in effect, “I promise to.” In context, that’s not what’s meant, unless the singer is schizo. A simple change to “I promise that I’ll try not to…” would scan almost as well and make more sense.
Consider now the profanity. The phrase “f*** with your mind” is used all-too-conversationally these days, and is a cheap shot. Sure, sure, the metaphor is vivid: violation of intimately private spaces (the mind) with what SHOULD be intimately private tools (genitals). You take the concept of “rape” and blend it with the concept of “emotional abuse,” and you have a very powerful meme. Great. IT’S BEEN DONE. In the non-explicit version of the song, muting the f-word renders the whole phrase powerless. REPLACING the word, however… THAT would have been artistic.
“mess with your mind” may lack some of the power of the mindrape meme, but it’s alliterative. In the context of good song lyrics, it’s BETTER. Especially if you have to do a non-explicit version of the song. Grrr…
There’s a band that actually did this quite well. Nine Days, “Story of a Girl.” The non-explicit lyric is:
“How many lovers would stay
Just to put up with this every day and all day”
The explict one is :
“How many lovers would stay
Just to put up with this sh** day after day”
The non explicit lyric is more poetic, conveys more meaning (not just every day, but ALL day) and will reach a broader audience by virtue of it being non-explicit. My only gripe there is that when I bought the Nine Days album the version of the song I got was not the one I wanted.
Moral of the story: I’m glad I used iTunes. The lesson I learned yesterday only cost me 99 cents.