Tears on Earth: A Clapton Controversy
By: Paula M. Sherman
On April 15th, Eric Clapton played a sold-out show at the CoreStates Center in Philadelphia. What I read in the newpaper the next day shocked me greatly.
From the song off his new release Pilgrim, the song entitled "Sick and Tired", Clapton sings a message to an ex-lover:
I'm gonna get me a shotgun, baby,
Keep it stashed behind the bedroom door.
I may have to blow your brains out, baby,
Then you won't bother me no more.
Ok. Fires were lit after this song was played and naturally, some people spoke up. Some feel that hate words against women is just not acceptable now, especially coming from a man who wrote years ago, "Tears in Heaven", regarding the lose of his son in 1991. Then spokeswoman, Ronnie Lippin, who defended Clapton said this recent song "Sick and Tired" is a "homage to the blues". In a nutshell, these are the two divided sides.
Someone who was so upset with the song "Sick and Tired" asked Reprise Records to have Clapton re-record this song, so new pressings of this album would contain different lyrics. In other words, this person wants to take away Clapton's freedom of speech in music, this person wants him to edit himself. Personally, I feel the act of taking away someone's freedom of speech in any art is more horrific than the above lyrics to Clapton's song.
Clapton is heavily influenced by blues music. Blues music is consistently about pain and agony, written by men and women alike. Male blues artists in the past wrote about violence to men and women, and female blues artists did the same thing, and even eleborated on it. Blues music goes very deep and has a long treacherous history, that's why it's called the "blues"....it's about sorrow, pain, agony....violence.
I'm not going to go into references to blues songs to make my point. My point is grounded in freedom of speech. Even though I was a little taken back by Clapton's song, it came from his heart; just like the song he wrote about his son. I can appreicate that no matter how raw the lyrics. Some think this is inconsistent of Clapton. What's so inconsistent about experiencing another emotion and having that drive you to create a piece of art? In my humble opinion, it's very consistent! The lyrics are based on emotion, and that's what fuels a song. Some may still say that Clapton didn't need to be so graphic, but look at all the artists who write and sing about sex and other things that threaten today's morals and ethics.
So what! I feel if a person can't handle or doesn't like a song with strong worded lyrics, then DON'T LISTEN TO IT. Music should not be edited after the fact! Everyone has an opinion, everyone has different points of views of things. To make everything nice and clean is ridiculous! I have to take Clapton's side in this, and I pray he doesn't change the lyrics to the song "Sick and Tired". If he does it will be a major step backwards, and freedom of speech and thought will no longer be a freedom. I see this manipulation as a nightmare. If an artist is made to alter their art because some feel it's unacceptable, where will it stop? If this happens, eventually we will all be made to edit yourselves in every arena. I'm not saying that it's not good to think about what you say or do. But if it's art, take it for what it is and appreciate it or ignore it.....don't try to change it!
I do want to address the hate words for a moment. I'm a woman, and I'm not the least bit offended by Clapton's song. Men and women have been driving each other crazy since the dawn of humanity. It won't change! Common sense will hopefuly win out in extreme circumstances; and that goes for hate words against all people, not just women. I don't condone hate speech, but it is a freedom to those who wish to express it. It doesn't mean we have to listen to it or promote it. Yes, we need to address abuse and patrol it, but I don't feel it should start in the music world. It should be handled on a human level, at home.
I still believe in this...Ignore hate and it will go away. It's a challenge.