Sunday, September 3, 2017

The Fascinating World of "Car Crash Songs"

So, what is a "car crash song"?

The term refers to older songs whose lyrics have been changed to reflect contemporary concerns. Many beloved holiday tunes have undergone this treatment, as well as several other Christian hymns. Usually the rewritten lyrics are to remove references to "man", "men", and "mankind" to be more gender inclusive, but there are other manners of doing this as well. Here are some examples of well-known songs that have undergone "car crash" changes.

I'm not encouraging these changes (though I did write a screenplay about how boys and girls should be treated, and their talents seen, equally) but I'm not against them, either. For all the Seinfeld watchers reading this, I'm like Switzerland. I'm just fascinated with the premise.

"Joy to the World"
Original/offending lyrics: "Let men their songs employ"
Changed to: "Let us our songs employ" or "Let saints their songs employ".
I prefer the second one, but I do not exactly know why.

"O Come Emmanuel"
Original/offending lyrics: "O come desire of nations, bind / In one the hearts of all mankind"
Changed to: "O come desire of nations, bind / In one the hearts of humankind" (but I did hear a version on the radio that changed the line to "O come desire of nations, bind / All peoples in one heart and mind"
Again, I prefer the second one - the first one seems a little lazy (no offense intended), while the second one is actually an improvement from the original, sexist (?) lyric.

"Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory"
Original/offending lyrics: "As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free"
Changed to: "As he died that all be holy, let us die that all be free"
I prefer the changed lyric, but don't think I'll ever sing it. I have reason to believe I gave up on Christianity because I didn't want everlasting life. Knowing what my readers may be asking now, I think I'll have to write an entire post about how everlasting life is not what it's "advertised" as.

"Let There Be Peace on Earth"
Original/offending lyrics: "With God as our Father, brothers all are we. Let me walk with my brother in perfect harmony."
Changed to: "With God as our Father, children all are we. Let us walk with each other in perfect harmony."
I sing neither of those lyrics. I prefer "family all are we. Let us walk with each other in love and harmony." I have a problem with the lyric "perfect" in there, because I don't think anything can be perfect.

"We All Sing With the Same Voice" (my favorite song ever)
Original/offending lyrics: "I've got one daddy / I've got two"
Changed to: "I've got one parent / I've got two"
Changed back to: "I've got one daddy / I've got two"
Although many think the line, when originally recorded in 1982, was referring to having a stepmother or stepfather, the songwriters have said that all the way back then, the line was meant to refer to being adopted by same-sex soulmates. This shows you what a good show Sesame Street is. However, when parents complained about the line, "daddy" was changed to "parent", now making the line refer to being raised by a single parent. When the song was released on SesameStreet.com and YouTube in 2008, the "daddy" line was restored, homosexuality being much more respected in culture.

"Hark the Herald Angels Sing"
Original/offending lyrics: "Pleased as man with men to dwell"; "Born to raise the sons of earth / Born to give them second birth"
Changed to: "Pleased with us in flesh to dwell"; "Born to raise us from the earth / Born to give us second birth."
A person who didn't want second birth probably wouldn't sing either. But this isn't as bad as trying to eradicate calling Jesus "Lord", "King", and "him" (which has actually been done).

"Silent Night" (Well, not really. A school presented a secular Christmas play with the lyrics of "Silent Night" changed. It was accused of being an instance of this, but really the changed lyrics had been being used since the 1970s and had been changed to fit the play's secular theme of homelessness.)
Original, non-offending lyrics: You know them. You know this song well.
Changed, but not for PC-related reasons, to: "Cold in the night / No one in sight / winter winds / whirl and bite / how I wish I were happy and warm / safe with my family out of the storm."

This one was widely assumed to be an example of the car crash phenomenon, but the school district said it wasn't. This was one of several religious Christmas songs that had been modified for a secular Christmas play that the school had been performing since 1978 (!) The school district had put the play on for 27 years, and no one complained...but the school district was sued in 2005 when a parent was angered over the lyrics. As far as I know, the school still performs the play.

Some song that I've seen in a lot of church and school Christmas programs
Original/offending lyrics: "Have a super duper Christmas with Jesus this year"
Changed to: "Have a super duper Christmas in Whoville this year"
I did some research, and "Super Duper Christmas" was written by a Christian school in Philly when a child told a teacher that the religious songs they were to sing in the Christmas program weren't fun and/or upbeat. The song was put on Teachers Pay Teachers, and some school picked it up, used it for a secular Grinch musical, and changed the lyrics. This is more of a fender bender than a car crash, because it's a little-known song compared to the other entries on this list.

"Hallelujah"
Original/offending lyrics: Virtually the whole song, as one party saw it.
Changed to: "You packed your bags and shut the door. You crossed the sea to fight a war. You didn't know just what would happen to ya. Stepped in the dirt, boots on the ground, and gunfire was the only sound, and to yourself you whispered...Hallelujah."
"And every day and every night, you walked the walk, you fought the fight, you never saw the end in sight, now did ya...the days awash in a haze of red, the blood, the mud, too many dead, your weary soul was crying hallelujah."
"Too late to help, you hear a shot, you know you're in a deadly spot, you thought this day would come now, so did ya? Your brother falls down to the ground, the enemy is all around, and from your lips you scream a hallelujah."
"You fought the fight till it was done, you have the strength to carry on, You thought it would be better back home, did ya? You try each day, keep pushing through, but the battle lives inside of you, it's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah."

Navy vet Sailor (good name for a Navy vet) Jerri saw the whole song as somewhat poor-quality and lacking much, so she rewrote the song to be about being in the military. This is one of several instances I have seen the classic Shrek song rewritten, from a version rewritten to be about Sandy Hook, to a version rewritten to be about 9/11, to my own version of the song that I am working on that changes the lyrics, which will be posted on my blog within the next month.

This rehash in lyrics is one I see as FAR better than the original. Similar to the Christian version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas that is coming this November on my blog, my Hallelujah rehash is coming as well.

Stay tuned.

But don't worry, original material comes just as well to me as these rehashes.

With gender inclusion a big part of this post, I will end with a question relating to my story about gender inclusion. Does the story of Fearless Girl, which you can read by clicking on the words "a screenplay" at the top of the post, need a sequel? Does it need its story to continue? Or, is the story good enough by itself?






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