Oh Sh*t, He Said F*@k!!

As a KDHX programmer, I keep my ears open all the time, looking for new music to share with all the nice folks who listen to my show. Recently, I was quite taken with a new song by Ben Folds, “You Don’t Know Me,” from his latest album, Way to Normal. Now, mind you, I can’t name another song by Ben Folds which has ever impressed me even a little bit (despite quite a few recommendations from the great pop songwriter Scott Miller on his brilliant blog). This was something unusual for me, and I eagerly took home a promo copy of an EP containing the song. (Hey, you didn’t think I’d pay for it. I love you guys, but I can’t buy everything I play for you, or I’d never eat.)

So, I gave the EP a closer listen in my car, and was bopping my head and congratulating myself for expanding my musical horizons and all that, when all of a sudden I nearly steered the car into a highway sign with exasperation. Because, in a bouncy little pop song, for no good reason, he sings the following charming verse:

If I’m the person that you think I am (Ah ah ahh)
Clueless chump you seem to think I am (Ah ah ahhh)
So easily led astray,
An errant dog who occasionally escapes and needs a shorter leash, then
Why the fuck would you want me back?!

Now, why the fuck would he sing that word? Because, while “piss” seems to have been dropped from the lexicon of forbidden verbiage, “fuck” remains right at the top of the list. Oh, sure, George W. Bush can go on TV and say rich people deserve billions of dollars while poor people need to pull themselves up by thinner and thinner bootstraps, but somehow or another, that simple little emphatic utterance can make radio stations pay thousands of dollars in fines.

Recently, the Supreme Court has been hearing arguments regarding the casual use of profanities, based on Bono of U2 getting so excited about receiving some award or another that he said he was fucking happy on live TV. Now, I’m not expecting the Court to come out on the side of reason – there breathe very few Americans of any age above 6 who haven’t heard or said this word in some conversation or another at some point, so chill the fuck out and let it go so we can concentrate on worrying about the content of sentences, rather than their form. But, I sure do wish I could be a fly on the wall at those hearings. Maybe I could play Antonin Scalia this Ben Folds song and see what he thinks.


  • Vicki Beck

    I can’t agree more. I am always amazed what people get excited over. There are bigger fish to fry.

  • http://AllIsForNaught Fred Friction

    While I’m not offended by songs like Matthew Grimm’s “Fuck, Fuck, Fuck” or “Kill The Poor”, it seems that most artists simply use a shock phrase to gain your attention so they can deliver a message about something somewhat profound (to them at least). I agree with you that sentence content is more important than the form of the phrase. There is much more to be concerned about in this world, and people need to grow up and get fuckin’ over it.

  • http://none Tom Noerper

    Hi Steve,

    I have to say, I disagree with you on this one. I don’t want the gov to be involved, but I think radio station management, or even the dj’s & programmers, ought to show restraint during daytime programming. I just don’t want my kids (future?) or any kids to hear these words, and contemplate these ideas, too soon. One could say, “well, don’t turn on KDHX in the daytime, then.” But it’s also mainstream media and TV that have lowered the standards and moved our media to a “least common denominator” environment of constant sex, obscenity, violence, etc.

  • Steve Pick

    Hi, Tom,

    Just for the record, I’m not advocating turning KDHX into a potty-mouthed unbleeped South Park, or anything remotely like it. On the one hand, I hate the fact that Ben Folds couldn’t have found a radio-friendly word to express his emotion in the song which started me thinking. On the other hand, I equally hate the fact that this word, which, if your kids are over six or seven, probably have used at some point already, is something so profoundly scary. In the context of this song, it’s actually a meaningless place keeper, a cheap method to sound mad when the song itself had already let us know the singer was hurt.

    I simply don’t believe obscenity is inherent in words as much as it is in ideas. I don’t really want to police ideas, either, but I think some sort of common sense middle ground could be found, if a whole lot more work was put into looking for it.

  • Tony Renner

    i think bono said something like “fucking brilliant” on that awards show… he said, of course, because he was fucking excited….

    – tony

  • http://short.kdhx.org/e6c0fd bobEE Sweet

    Ohh Tom. Your kids must know that to kick out the jams you need motherfuckers not sisters and brothers.