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That Was Then But This Is Now

A Musical Challenge From Phil Flannery... Please Join Us

By Mike Singleton - MikeydredPublished about a month ago 3 min read
Top Story - November 2023
An AI Creation By The Author


This is for Phil Flannery's Musical Challenge in VSS which you can read about below.

The prompt is:

I have written this as a challenge for the Vocal Social Society. Feel free to share the songs that you loved as a child but were unaware of their meaning until much later.

I cannot think of any records I heard as a child that were inappropriate for children but there are a lot that include misheard lyrics, and things that were acceptable in the past but are not acceptable now. So this is really a playlist of songs that I heard as a child and then what happened in subsequent years.

"Mr Tambourine Man" - The Byrds and Bob Dylan

In 1965 when I was eight I heard The Byrds singing this song on a program called "Thank Your Lucky Stars" and I thought it was absolutely gorgeous.

I later found out that it had been written by Bob Dylan and so I checked out the original cun by the writer. It was like sandpape after silk. The Byrds version was so beautiful and the Dylan version hit me like a punch on the nose.

It must have been in the early seventies when I heard the Dylan version, I might have bought his first "Greatest Hits" album after buying a book of his lyrics. The more I read, the more I listened, growing to appreciate Dylan's voice and The Byrds covered many of his songs, and there is a full album of Byrds Dylan covers.

Here is Bob's version, to compare with The Byrds' take on it.


The Implications in Neil Sedaka's "Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen" and Gary Puckett and The Union Gap's "Young Girl" are very creepy but at the time in the sixties were acceptable. Jerry Lee Lewis was pilloried in the UK because his wife was just thirteen, but that was legal if immoral in his home in the USA.

Gary Glitter's "Do You Want To Touch Me?" is, given this awful man's history is very creepy, but I do feel sorry for Mike Leander and The Glitter Band who are tarnished by association.

I won't share these records but they are available on YouTube if you want to check them out.

"Walk On The Wild Side" by Lou Reed

Apparently, for that unforgettable bass line Herbie Flowers was paid ten pounds, but this song amazed me because the BBC never picked up on this verse:

Candy came from out on the Island

In the back room she was everybody's darling

But she never lost her head

Even when she was giving head

"Lola" by The Kinks

When I first heard this I thought is was a little odd, but the only controversy seemed to be that they had to change "Coca Cola" to "Cherry Cola" because the BBC did not allow what they saw as advertising or product placement in songs. David Bowie and Mott The Hoople hit the same problem in "All The Young Dudes". The line

And Wendy's stealing clothes from Marks and Sparks

was changed to

And Wendy's stealing clothes from unmarked cars

But the song "Lola" actually is about a possible homosexual seduction. I completely missed that first time around.

Well, I'm not dumb but I can't understand

Why she walked like a woman but talked like a man

Oh my Lola

The BBC banned quite a lot of records over the years for some of the most innocuous reasons.


These are a few examples of things that I didn't completely understand when I was younger but I do now (I think).

I hope you have enjoyed that.

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Mike Singleton - Mikeydred

Weaver of Tales, Poems, Music & Love

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Comments (23)

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  • Rachel Deeming25 days ago

    Great discussion, Mike. There are songs here whose adult references I wasn't sure about until I was an adult. Just didn't pick up on them. Quite like the fact that I didn't too. I was always fascinated by the Sex Pistols and their song "Pretty Vacant" and why it was banned but seeing the way that Johnny Rotten sang it as an adult, there's no doubting why. When I was a kid, Rotten intimidated me but now that I'm older, I think we need more Rottens in the world to shake things up a bit. Weird how your perception can alter, isn't it?

  • Mr Ahsan28 days ago

    The personal reflections make it an enjoyable and thought-provoking read. keep up the good work

  • Marie Wilson28 days ago

    Congrats on TS! Really enjoyed reading this - I remember these songs, was a teenager and didn't care what they meant at the time! (Or now, really).

  • Gerald Holmes28 days ago

    Well done Mike. Congrats on Top Story. I'm glad you included the song "Lola" in this as I think a lot of us from back then did not get it at first.

  • Loved the take and how music shifts meaning as you grow. Congrats on TS! 🤍

  • Caroline Jane28 days ago

    Congratulations! 🥂😁

  • The Dani Writer28 days ago

    Thanks for sharing part of your youth Mike. When young, it feels like time lasts forever but my how wrong our perceptions were. Top Story Congrats!

  • Cindy Calder28 days ago

    This is a great piece! Congratulations on the Top Story!

  • Hannah Moore29 days ago

    I remember my dad explaining Lola to me when I was too young to get it. I thought it improved the song, for me.

  • Grz Colm29 days ago

    Congrats on your top story Mike. Thought I commented but must have just liked..I like a couple of Byrds songs too. ☺️👍

  • I'm back to say congratulations on your Top Story!

  • Heather Hubler29 days ago

    Congratulations on top story!!

  • E.K. Daniels29 days ago

    Great songs. Congrats on TS!

  • Babs Iverson29 days ago

    Congratulations on Top Story!!!

  • Omggg! I completely misunderstood what Phil meant. I thought ge wrote for a challenge that was in VSS. But he challenged everyone in VSS, lol. Even when she was giving head 🤣🤣🤣🤣

  • Ah, the things we don't understand as children. I remember thinking that a Carol Burnette sketch was just supposed to be funny as nonsense when a man & woman were stuck sharing a hotel room & she'd slap him every time he suggested they go to bed.

  • Teresa Rentonabout a month ago

    Brilliant history lesson, thank you! I'll never forget the moment Tony Blackburn decided he wasn't going to play Frankie Goes to Hollywood's 'Relax' on Radio 1. It was my favourite dance song at the time, I was so p***d off!

  • Mother Combsabout a month ago


  • Cathy holmesabout a month ago

    Nicely done. I know them all well.

  • Heather Hublerabout a month ago

    I enjoyed this so much! Thank you for sharing your passion, knowledge and experience with music :) Great answer to the challenge!

  • Wow, fantastic article this was cool to go over 👍🤪📝💯

  • Caroline Janeabout a month ago

    This is a brilliant challenge. In 20mins between you and Phil I have learned so much! Is it rude to say... please do more??? Also.. have to note... LOVE the AI art you added as the main pic. Fabulous.

  • Phil Flanneryabout a month ago

    I knew you would come through. 'Young girl', yes. It was the one my wife suggested. Neil Diamonds, 'Girl you'll be a woman soon', seems creepy. The kinks and Lou Reed are exempt, because they aren't hiding anything. I'm not sure they were banned here. As for Bob Dylan, his voice is an acquired taste, but his lyrics are amazing. I have the same relationship with Neil Young, his songs are wonderful but sometimes his voice grates me. Thanks for your contribution Mike.

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