*trigger warning. Sexual abuse discussed.
When we listen to music, we pay attention to some things more than others. My dad and my husband play guitar. So, when they listen to music they pay most attention to the guitar. People who like to dance pay most attention to the beat. People who like to sing pay most attention to the voice.
I pay most attention to lyrics.
As a songwriter, I’m all about the message of the song. I love digging through the when & where’s, rhymes, and emotions to reach the core. And when I write I’m very aware of the stories I tell and the words I use to tell them. Words make an impact consciously and subliminally.
Earlier this week I was driving to my day job with my radio on some country station and these lyrics come through my speakers. The song is called “It’s On You” performed (not written) by Matt Gary.
#1 – “I know that we just met but you can’t be tugging on my shirt like that without me thinkin’ bout what’s coming next. Yeah you’re teasing me, leading me on. Baby, it’s on you.”
#2 – “You’re coming in hot. If you don’t mean it stop before the night gets where it’s going to.”
#3 – “You can blame it on the beat or the whiskey in my drink for making me feel like I do… but it’s on you.”
I didn’t know if I was losing my mind but.. there’s no way to put this lightly. There was only one thing I could think about while listening to this song.
To me, it sounded like a guy thinking, “Wow, she’s tugging on my shirt. She must want it.” Like a guy saying to his friend, “We were drinking and we were dancing together all night. It’s her own fault for leading me on.”
Let’s be clear right now. Only a sober “yes” means yes and your behavior is most certainly on you. Male or female.
Anyway, I first sent the song to my hometown mentor. I knew she’d tell me if I was crazy for feeling this way. I asked her what she thought and the first thing she said was “country pop with auto tune.. sounds like a formula song.. why?”
With little confidence I answered, “I guess I must be crazy… the lyrics remind me of rape?”
After a minute of listening she replied, “ew…but now that you said that, I think you’re onto something!”
I dug deeper by sending it to a few friends and I did not share my take on the song.
I face timed one of my longtime best friends and her boyfriend. They had listened to it beforehand and her boyfriend was the one who initially had the same reaction as I did. My friend agreed and also mentioned the song Animal by Maroon 5 creeped her out. Not to mention Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke…
Next, a good friend and fellow singer-songwriter responded “The lyrics come off to me as him saying, ‘you’re coming on strong to me, don’t flirt if you don’t mean it’ but then it kind of takes a weird twist when he says ‘if you end up in my bed, it’s on you’ (Yikes y’all! This lyric is in the bridge. I turned the song off before it got that far – Emma) It starts to kind of sound like he’s blaming the girl or something.. I dunno”
Then, another good friend and fellow performer responded “I heard this on the radio yesterday. I like it because it’s a country song that you can dance to lol and I like the lyrics.. Why?? lol”
When I sent over the 3 lyrics I have above, she had a change of heart.
“Now that you wrote it out…it seems like he’s not taking any of the responsibility and putting it all on the girl.. Which is completely wrong. I was definitely listening for a ‘dancing beat’ lol i just love to dance but i don’t like those lyrics at all”
Everybody else who listened and joined the discussion came to a similar conclusion.
Rape is a big conversation. It’s unfortunate that it has to be talked about but at the same time we need to listen to the experiences of others to help protect ourselves and our children. I admire the strength of everybody who has gone through it. I also admire everybody who has spoken out about it. I love & admire you so much that I’ll speak out about it with you.
Let’s be aware of what songs are saying. #LetsListen