In recent years, the Leftist Legion of Prudery has targeted “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” as inappropriate for public consumption. Now John Legend and Kelly Clarkson are out with a new version in which the man says, “It’s your body and your choice.” The 1940s Frank Loesser tune, covered by countless artists, thus emerges in 2019 as a Planned Parenthood slogan. That transformation may offer fascinating possibilities for popular music in the coming decades.
Ray Charles, who in 1961 covered “Baby It’s Cold Outside” with Betty Carter, also invited a certain lady to “come and love your daddy all night long,” in his famous “What’d I Say.” And if she “don’t do right,” Ray might have to send her back to Arkansas. In 2019 this would be “stop the harassment” and “please consider something more than a superficial relationship.” Ray also came out with “Let’s Go Get Stoned,” which in 2019 would become “Avoid substance abuse,” if it wasn’t banned entirely.
“She’s my Tallahassee Lassie,” Freddie Cannon sang in 1959. “She’s got a hi-fi chassis.” Freddy, who appeared frequently on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand,” was obviously objectifying and demeaning women. That would justify a change to “it’s her body and to a certain mindset it may be attractive.” And Freddy’s observation that “she can rock and roll,” might have to go, too.
“Come on over baby,” Jerry Lee Lewis sang, because a “whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on.” This would be “consider a visit, dear one, if you should ever want to attempt some vigorous dance moves.” Likewise, “Shake it up baby,” as the Isley Brothers sang in their 1962 hit, “Twist and Shout,” might prompt a change to “Please feel free to move in a suggestive manner, but it’s your body and your choice.”
Later in that decade, things got just a little more explicit. When dealing with a certain “foxy lady,” the great Jimi Hendrix said, “I’m gonna take you home. I won’t do you no harm,” but the foxy lady has “got to be all mine.” Jimi isn’t even giving her a choice what to do with her body. So this tune presents some real challenges, and “I request that you come home with me, attractive person, and my motives are good,” doesn’t really get it.
Frank Zappa, another talented artist, didn’t want no sweet devotion or cheap emotion, “just whip me up some dragon lotion for your dirty love.” With this lady, Frank didn’t want no consolation and no reservation because, “I only got one destination, and that’s your dirty love.” The song, which could be heard on the radio at one time, included some specific anatomical instructions modeled on the lady’s mother. In 2019, this could be “perhaps we could emulate certain activities of your parents?”
In “Dinah-Moe Hum,” Frank described a lady who was “buns-up kneelin,” while Frank was “wheelin and dealin.” Maybe the 2019 cover could intone, “in the right context, sexual activity is possible in a number of different positions.” And, as all Millennials should know, in the 1960s it wasn’t just the guys.
“Don’t you want somebody to love?” sang Grace Slick, “Don’t you need somebody to love?” Therefore, “you better find somebody to love.” It wasn’t particularly difficult, and as this writer can attest, those of the female sex very often took the initiative in no uncertain terms. The politically correct cover might say, “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle,” therefore “I don’t want somebody to love.” The rhyme might be tough, though.
By the way, a “Jefferson Airplane,” the name of Slick’s group, was also a roach clip improvised from a match. It worked pretty well, but there’s better gear now that weed is legal.
Into the 1970s, KC and the Sunshine Band proclaimed “That’s the way I like it,” which could do for both sexes. A cover artist could explain, “If you will allow me, I do have certain preferences and proclivities,” leaving out the “Uh huh” refrain of the original. Still, it’s a tough call, like Isaac Hayes’ Shaft theme from the same decade.
“Who’s the black private dick who’s a sex machine for all the chicks?” Isaac asked. As Jay Leno noted, it’s a new century that brings on a certain uneasiness, so Leno offered this version: “Who’s the African American investigator who has consensual sex with women of equal pay?” That brought down the house but the Legion of Prudery is no laughing matter.
For better or for worse, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” represented what Frank Loesser had to say. “It’s your body and your choice” is prudery, to be sure, but it also represents a kind of nihilism that dead-bolts the mind. When that prevails, with no apology to Don McLean, that’s the day the music dies.