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Letter from the Editor

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Does anyone remember Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts? Their first album, Nuts to You, came out in 1962, and the cover featured ol' Doug flipping the bird to his audience. Their more memorable songs included "Nuts to You," "Baby, Let Me Bang Your Box," and the classic "He's Got the Whole World by the Balls."

The Hot Nuts played the college circuit for years, even into the 1970s, when I was in school. They were said to be the model for Otis Day and the Knights, the fictional band in Animal House.

Think they could have played the Beale Street Music Festival? I don't know, but Clarence Carter ("Strokin'") has, and so has Jerry Lee Lewis ("Great Balls of Fire"). What do you think those guys were singing about?

The local daily is trying its best to create a "let's you and him fight" controversy over Three 6 Mafia playing at this year's music festival. Even though the group has pledged to perform a "clean" show, some of their songs have dirty and misogynistic lyrics, and, well, we shouldn't allow people who write such things to perform hereabouts, apparently.

I have no love for foul, misogynistic music. I certainly don't want to hear it booming from someone's car when I'm walking with my 10-year-old stepson through the Home Depot lot. But I don't take him to late-night concerts attended by 30,000 beer-drinking adults either.

He doesn't have the advantage that most of us had growing up: a vital music-radio scene. Artists used to have to get on the radio to survive. Now they have to scramble for fans and attention via live shows and the Internet. The big record labels used to control music radio. If you got signed to, say, Capitol Records and they wanted your music played on the air, it usually got played. The Top 40 simplified things — for better or worse.

"Outsider" groups like the Hot Nuts toiled in obscurity, making a living one night at a time, hoping for a break. Now, that's the case for almost every new band. We, as consumers, have to seek out the music we want to hear.

And along with that, we have to take responsibility for avoiding the stuff we don't want to hear rather than asking governmental or quasi-governmental agencies — or newspapers — to choose for us. That's just Nuts.

Bruce VanWyngarden

brucev@memphisflyer.com

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