Right Music, Wrong Words

I promise that this blog isn’t going to turn into All UT Vols All The Time. But I can’t let something I saw at Neyland Stadium go without mention.

Neyland Stadium is huge. And it has one of the country’s largest jumbotrons looming over the south end zone. During lulls in the game (and yesterday’s game had plenty of them) the screen comes to life with propaganda of the Big Orange variety. They show promos featuring the men’s basketball team. They show promos of the women’s basketball team. And clips of glorious plays from years past. They are all fairly well done and set to rollicking music designed to make you want to rush out and plonk down big bucks for more tickets, jerseys and anything else licensed by the university.

But there was one little music video yesterday that definitely had me puzzled. It showed the football team going through drills and practices. Showed them running sprints down the field and lifting weights. All the physical struggles they go through to  be in good enough shape to play in the SEC. It was all set to a tune which was instantly familiar to me, and I imagine, anyone else in the stadium who has listened to FM rock with any regularity. So I wonder what the athletes on the big screen would’ve thought if they knew that about 42,000 of us were singing along under our breath…

Holly came from Miami, Fla
Hitchhiked her way across the USA.
Plucked her eyebrows on the way
Shaved her leg and then he was she – she said:

Hey Babe, take a walk on the wild side,
Said hey honey, take a walk on the wild side.

Yes. It’s a song about transvestites. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Well, actually it’s a song about drug dealing, prostitute transvestites. You can read all the lyrics for yourself. Or you can watch a video. This song is a classic by Lou Reed. He had a band called the Velvet Underground and was a regular at Andy Warhol’s Factory in New York.

Of course, this isn’t the first time a song has been used when perhaps in shouldn’t have been. There’s a Wrangler jeans commercial that’s cleverly edited to make Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Fortunate Son sound like anything but the anti-war, anti-establishment rant it is. And one of the cruise lines uses an Iggy Pop song called Lust for Life — and he doesn’t mean shuffleboard and bingo.

As someone who produced hundreds of tv commercials over the years, I find it hard to understand why advertisers don’t object when questionable music is used to promote their products. Maybe they just never listened.


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