Friends, I know that I have already discussed the perils of trying to ride in the car with your kids while listening to music. Lyrics nowadays- am I right? OK, OK, Musique’s 1978 hit, “In the Bush,” was insane, but back then, what kid knew what this song was about? It was disco! Disco made no sense. It was all about hopping around, gyrating madly to a mind numbing, hypnotic beat. With disco balls and lava lamps and bell bottoms- those were the days! We were screen-free, sheltered little critters who had no idea what the lyrics were saying. But today’s savvy child’s mind needs to be redirected away from the actual meaning of songs on a daily basis. After all, they are constantly exposed to all sorts of revealing information in songs, TV shows and movies- and maybe they will be able to put it all together themselves! It’s exhausting but we must stop them! On a positive note, a parent’s level of mental gymnastics and quick thinking will help stave off Alzheimer’s for at least a couple years more….
Now, there is no need to reinvent the wheel. So, to help out my fellow parents, below are several examples of appropriate lyric translations. Trust me, they turn the absurdly vulgar into an absolutely acceptable- and believable!- product. I cannot emphasize enough the need to extend childhood as long as possible- and nothing kills childhood faster than taking a bite from the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. You do that, and the next thing you know you are in a world of trouble whilst naked in the middle of a garden. Oddly enough I have a similar recurring dream that ties together my two greatest fears: nudity and nature- no thanks to both! But I digress…. Here we go!
1. “Is it too late now to say sorry…?
I’m not just trying to get you back on me, oh no
‘Cause I’m missing more than just your body, oh…”
Oh, oh, oh, Justin, that is a very moving example of contrition. It says a lot about his life philosophy and the power of low standards, not to mention single syllable words. Who knew there were so many of them? Oops, that was unkind. Sorry! All of that aside, why is he trying to convince himself that he does not want to get her “back on” him- or that he is not fixated on her “body?” Nope, I’m not trying to psychoanalyze a megalomaniacal Canadian youth. So I will focus instead on cleansing this ditty of all its Bieber DNA. So please don’t “go and get angry at all of my honesty.” Here is how I have explained these subversive lyrics:
“Children, did you know that Justin Bieber is Canadian and that they have tons of different expressions there? For God’s sake they refer to American cheese as ‘processed’ cheese! It’s hard to believe. At any rate, in Canada ‘to get back on’ someone means to be ‘back on their good side.'”
“But, mommy, he said that he is missing more than her body. That’s weird.”
“No, no, no! In Canada ‘body’ is another term for personality. You know, like saying that Justin Trudeau really has a great body– you know, personality. So, let’s imagine that mommy has a sort of relationship with Trudeau that has sadly turned sour. For the sake of argument, let’s imagine I’m a member of his cabinet and I mistakenly proposed to extradite Justin Bieber from the U.S., which no Canadian wants. I would then have to apologize because I sure wish I could ‘get back on Trudeau’s body.’ But we don’t talk like that here. So don’t. OK? Ever!”
Scene! It’s a wrap!
2. “Can’t keep my hands to myself
No matter how hard I’m trying to….”
Wow. Based on Selena Gomez’s compulsive touching disorder (which probably falls within the OCD spectrum), one word of “sorry” from the Biebs should settle that whole getting “back” on her “body” issue, but I may be reading into this a bit much. How to explain this to children? Easy peasy lemon squeezy! Just go into all the possible compulsions that are out there: fear of corners, eating your own hair, counting every Canadian you pass, the need to rub certain objects repeatedly (the mind reels, Selena!), washing your hands every five minutes (after all, you can’t keep them to yourself), revulsion at your own body (not Bieber’s issue)… you get the point. This should convince your little ones that Selena has real mental issues, but is fiercely proud to celebrate them, because in today’s self-indulgent society, why the hell not?!?!
3. “Well, I had me a boy, turned him into a man
I showed him all the things that he didn’t understand…
They always wanna come, but they never wanna leave.”
Egads! This is a tough one. How do you turn a boy into a man? Damned if I know, but this gal, Elle, does it like it’s her job. I mean, she hasn’t shown me all the things that I don’t understand- yet- but one can only hope she is reading this and is willing to throw me a bone, as it were. Till then, focus on the scenario that Elle is an itinerant teacher who focuses on an all-male curriculum. She is such a good teacher, the students always want to come… to her office and “never wanna leave.” As a high school teacher myself, I know how patently absurd that idea is since I have more than twenty years experience boring adolescents, and they always want to leave- always. But I ain’t no Elle King, after all. Just focus on the transformative powers of education and watch Stand and Deliver when you get home. Done and dusted!
4. “Talk to me, baby
I’m going blind from this sweet, sweet craving, whoa
Let’s lose our minds and go f*cking crazy
Ah ya ya ya ya I keep on hoping we’ll eat cake by the ocean.”
Frankly, on this one, I got nothing. Donna Summer’s “MacArthur Park” song makes a hell of a lot more sense, and that one is a doozy. Introduce your children to Candy Crush Soda Saga and move on. How hard can it be to pack a neat lunch that includes cake, and then head down to the beach? Apparently it’s very, very hard-the stuff that “sweet” dreams are made of. Or that makes you spiral into violent mental illness. Or makes you prattle on in gibberish while you stoke the fires of eternal hope. Whatever. It’s stupid. Although, mind you, it has quite the catchy tune!
OK, gang, I hope this was helpful. I’m now going to go listen to some Gershwin or Cole Porter or Billie Holiday or Ray Charles, for God’s sake, like the damned adult I am. Unfortunately, though, I now have a hankering for cake- and for Donna Summer, the Queen of Disco! And we come full circle….