My, Lorde, you sure can sing — and swear too.
In case you missed it, the precocious New Zealand teen with the unique voice — and the performing style she copied from Joe Cocker — helped induct Nirvana into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Thursday night.
Lorde’s rendition of “All Apologies,” backed by Nirvana bandmates Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic as well as added guitarist Pat Smear, certainly did the late Kurt Cobain proud.
Then, showing that she can not only rock with the best of them but roll with the guys too, she tweeted:
“so honoured and happy i got to help celebrate nirvana's rock and roll hall of fame induction tonight. true [f-word] rock stars, all, forever.”
How very, uh, touching, I guess.
OK, I know: “It’s the 21st century; she’s a rock star; a teenage rock star; what do you expect?”
Well, as a grizzled veteran of the “free to be me” ’60s, let me just pose this question: Isn’t it possible that there’s a time and a place for coarseness, and a time and place for something, say, a bit more elevated?
And I’m not picking on Lorde. During his acceptance speech, Grohl offered this heartfelt observation: “When we started out we didn’t know anything about business. We were in a [f-word] van, buying corn dogs.”
And fellow performer St. Vincent a.k.a. Annie Clark’s take on Nirvana was that the band was “forward thinking, inclusive and [f-word] rad.”
Sure, perhaps I’m just getting old. Maybe stuff like this is starting to bother me more, like I remember it did my mom and dad as they aged.
Full disclosure, for example: Tuesday night I went to the Dodgers game. First, the young man seated behind me phoned his dad, taking up most of an inning covering various topics; I now know far more about his life, his dad’s life, etc., than I care to. Once off the phone, he struck up a conversation with his late-arriving comrades. And let’s just say that, without the f-word, there wouldn’t have been much of a conversation. Eight innings of such colorful repartee is, you might say, wearing.
And don’t even get me started on the family down the row that spent a half-inning, as the Dodgers were rallying, taking selfies with their cellphones, blocking the view of those behind them until one exasperated patron asked if he could perhaps be allowed to actually, you know, see the game.
But I digress.
Bad language is nothing new. In fact, one of my favorite HBO shows, “Deadwood” was famous (infamous?) for its cursing characters. But there was an artistic reason. As creator and executive producer David Milch explained: “It’s very well documented that the obscenity of the West was striking, but the obscenity of mining camps was unbelievable.”
So I think it’s worth asking: Shouldn’t we have come a long way by now from 19th century mining camps? Swearing — and tattoos, for that matter — were once the province of sailors and the like. Rough, tough folks. Male folks, if you will. Now? Well, let’s just say: Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore.
But before the world goes all-to-Deadwood again, perhaps we could take a moment to step back from the verbal precipice. How about, say, a revised version of the preschool rules about inside voices and outside voices?
In private, f-bomb away, if you must.
But in public, put the f-word away. Just consider it the polite thing to do.
Even if you’re a rock star.