Mandan News

Do we really listen

By Dustin White
Mandan News, editor

Have you ever been listening to a song on the radio and all of a sudden, you notice the lyrics? Recently, this happened to me.

Driving my wife to work and son to daycare, I often just let the radio play. While not a big fan of contemporary music, it does provide a nice white noise. And sometimes, I discover a song with a nice beat. A few days ago though, I discovered something quite different.

During one of these trips, a song that I somewhat liked started to play. About half way through it, something clicked. I had actually paid attention to the lyrics. I immediately turned it off, as even though my son is only three and probably wouldn’t understand, it wasn’t something he needed to hear.

Since then, I’ve begun taking an interest in what the music I listen to actually is saying. I’m often surprised at the messages that are being portrayed, especially when it’s in a song that I’ve enjoyed for years. Could it really be that easy to slip things past people?

Many of the messages that I catch are of the ridiculous sort. Lyrics that make me feel foolish for actually having liked the band. But in other instances, the message is much more vicious. It’s derogatory, sexist, and subjugating. In some instances, it normalizes violence, and criminal activity. Yet, it just slips by under a good beat or nice rhythm.

For me, this is concerning. My son is going to grow up, and at some time think, incorrectly I might add, that the music his dad listens to is lame. He is going to explore music, and find what fits him, while probably annoying his mother and me. What if when he does this, these same messages just slip on by?

I can’t say for certain what the effect will be. Maybe it would be nothing, and my worry is for no reason. One hopes that they have raised their children well enough to know right from wrong, and what is acceptable. Yet, inevitably they are their own people, and what they hear can have a lasting impression.

What can really be done though? This music is everywhere. With the Internet, nearly any form of music is just a click away, and its freely broadcasted over the radio. To monitor it all would be nearly impossible. Nor is it really needed.

All that is needed is to listen. For me, it has become a journey. Getting past the music I once listened to, I have discovered a whole new world. The music that now gets stuck in my head has a good message, and one I wouldn’t mind repeating, even though I certainly would be laughed at for my singing abilities.

Hopefully by the time my son is old enough to begin that journey of music discovery, I will have instilled in him the importance of listening. If not just to make sure that the message he gets from the music he plays is positive, but also so I won’t have to repeat myself too much.