Censored Songs: Country Music’s Dirty Mouths Come Clean
Country stars have long been known to speak their minds through their lyrics, but usually not using four letter words. While it’s common in other genres to have two different versions of a song — one clean and one explicit — it’s quite the rarity in country music. But we’ve found a few over the years who dare to swear … and then have to go back into the studio to make a family-friendly version of the same song for country radio airplay. The alternative? Just accept the fact that radio might throw a big fat bleep in the middle of their song. The Boot counts down our picks for the top 10 censored songs in country music.
10. ‘Baggage Claim,’ Miranda Lambert (2011)
Original Line: “Come and get your s—!”
Squeaky Clean Alternative: “Come and get it”
Never one to avoid speaking her mind, Miranda said exactly what she wanted to say on the album version of her latest song. She also released a clean version to radio to ensure the first single from her upcoming album, ‘Four the Record,’ keeps flying up the charts.
9. ‘Stronger Woman,’ Jewel (2008)
Original Line: “Just till he’s hungry or h—- or needs something clean”
Squeaky Clean Alternative: “Just ’til he’s hungry or frisky or needs something cleaned”
The pop star turned country songbird played it safe on her debut country single, replacing “h—–” (rhymes with corny … if you’re not in the mood to play Hangman!) with the word “frisky” to avoid any controversy at country radio.
8. ‘Lookin’ for a Good Time,’ Lady Antebellum (2008)
Original Line: “Would you get the wrong impression if I called us a cab right now?”
Squeaky Clean Alternative: “Would you get the wrong impression if I asked you to dance right now?”
Some may have gotten the wrong impression from Hillary Scott’s playful suggestion, but we got the notion she was merely suggesting the responsible use of a designated driver, rather than anything of a mischievous nature.
7. ‘Toes,’ Zac Brown Band (2009)
Original Line: “I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand”
Squeaky Clean Alternative: “I got my toes in the water, toes in the sand”
The guys of the Zac Brown Band were “knee deep” in radio edits for this 2009 No. 1 single. The word “ass” was replaced with “toes” in the chorus, while “roll a fat one” was bleeped out complete by some stations.
6. ‘Friends in Low Places,’ Garth Brooks (1990)
Third Verse Edition: “Just wait til I finish this glass. Then sweet little lady, I’ll head back to the bar … And you can kiss my ass”
The radio single for Garth’s four-week No. 1 song only contained two verses, but the country entertainer revamped the classic drinking song, writing a third verse for his live performances. The new version never caught on for recurrent radio airplay of the song, but remained a fan favorite of the superstar’s spectacular live shows.
5. ‘Picture,’ Kid Rock & Sheryl Crow (2002)
Original Line: “I’ve been fueling up on cocaine and whiskey”
Squeaky Clean Alternative: “Ive been fueling up on (bleep) and whiskey”
What happens when two rock stars join forces on a heartbreak ballad? Song lyrics too controversial for country radio. But the song gave Sheryl and Kid two firsts: a song in the Top 25 on the country charts and a CMA award nomination for Vocal Event of the Year.
4. ‘A Boy Named Sue,’ Johnny Cash (1969)
Original Line: “I’m the son-of-a-b—- that named you Sue!”
Squeaky Clean Alternative: “I’m the son-of-a (bleep) that named you Sue!”
3. ‘Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American),’ Toby Keith (2002)
Original Line: “We’ll put a boot in your ass, it’s the American way!”
Squeaky Clean Alternative: “We’ll put a boot in your (bleep), it’s the American way!”
At the height of patriotism following the events of 9/11, Toby retaliated against our nation’s enemies with the brazen tune, featuring the famous (or infamous to some) “boot” lyric. Although Toby serviced an uncensored version to country radio, some programmers opted to play a PG version, which infuriated a few steadfastly patriotic country listeners.
2. ‘Picture to Burn,’ Taylor Swift (2008)
Original Line: “I’ll tell mine you’re gay”
Squeaky Clean Alternative: “You won’t mind if I say”
The queen of squeaky clean tailored her tune, ‘Picture to Burn,’ for a radio edit, removing a line about spreading gay rumors from the vengeful lyrics to provide a more politically correct version to her legion of young, adoring fans. She also removed “damn” from ‘Teardrops on My Guitar,’ erasing any trace of controversy from her multi-platinum, self-titled debut album.
1. ‘The Devil Went Down To Georgia,’ Charlie Daniels (1979)
Original Line: “I done told you once you son-of-a-b—-, I’m the best there’s ever been”
Squeaky Clean Alternative: “I done told you once you son-of-a-gun, I’m the best there’s ever been”
Respectable language is always a must, even when dealing with the devil himself. Charlie cleaned up the lyrics to the 1979 classic hit, his only single to reach No. 1 on the country charts. Charlie’s ‘Devil’ kicks some serious a– as one of the most iconic censors in music history.