Thursday, February 17, 2011
Gratuitous or essential?
Watching the Grammys the other night and finally succumbing to the hook they seemed to be playing over and over (reminding me of the night, now and forever, the Tonys would not let go of "Midnight . . . all the kitties are sleeping . . ."), I became curious about the apparently runaway success of "Need You Now." (The original is fine but I love this tribute even more.) I was interested to discover that the label had some concern about the line "It's a quarter after one, / I'm a little drunk, / And I need you now." Luckily, the band and wiser heads prevailed, as I think the song became the ubiquitous hit it is because its slight whiff of realism gives those who disdain "adult contemporary" or "smooth country" permission to go ahead and enjoy the song. I wonder if the inclusion of what we used to call swear words do the same thing in books for kids. That even if a sentence would read perfectly well without the fuck thrown into the middle of it, does the use of the offending word gives readers permission to trust the book?