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Topic: Banned Books Week: Celebrate the Freedom to Read — Music

Banned Music

In addition to books, music has also been banned or censored throughout the centuries and around the world.

What exactly is music censorship? Eric Nuzum, the author of Parental Advisory: Music Censorship in America (2001) provides the following definition:

"Music censorship is any discriminatory act that advocates or allows the suppression, control, or banning of music or music-related works against the wishes of its creator or intended audience." (Nuzum, 7)


The performance of specific artists' or composers' works or recordings has been banned or censored by a variety of reasons, including provocative or sexually suggestive lyrics, political beliefs and/or associations, and violence. There are numerous examples of banned or censored music. Since the 1940's, Richard Wagner's music has not been played in Israel's concert hall or opera houses due to Wagner's antisemitism. As recently as 2003, radio stations, primarily of country music, banned all music by the Dixie Chicks, after Natalie Maines made the following comment at their London concert, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas."

Live performances, as well as on television or pre-taped music videos have also been banned or censored on certain occasions, a few musicians or groups who are on this list include, Elvis Presley, Nat King Cole, Cher, and Guns N' Roses.

Here is a list of books at UConn where you can find out more about music & censorship:

Music Banned in the U.S.

This is a very select list of popular songs banned or censored in the U.S. by various groups between 1865 - 2000. This includes albums or songs, and live, radio and/or televised performances.

1865 - all pro-Confederate Songs, such as "I'm a Good Ol' Rebel" or "Bonnie Blue Flag"

1931 - "Hoochie Coochie Man,"  "I'm Gonna Shave You Close"

1944 - Eric Posselt's songbook: Give Out: Songs of, for, and by the Men in the Service

1954 - Cole Porter's "I Get a Kick Out of You;" Rosemary Clooney's "Mambo Italiano"

1956 - Billie Holiday's "Love for Sale"

1958 - Elvis Presley's "Hard Headed Woman;" Bobby Darin's "Splish Splash"

1963 - Bob Dylan's "Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues"

1965 - Frank Zappa's "Money"

1967 - Rolling Stones' "Let's Spend the Night Together"

1968 - The Doors' "Unknown Soldier"

1971 - Bob Dylan's "George Jackson"

1972 - John Lennon's "Woman is the Nigger of the World; "John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High"

1975 - Loretta Lynn's "The Pill"

1978 - The Trampps' "Disco Inferno"

1980 - Frank Zappa's "I Don't Wanna Get Drafted"

1985 - Ozzy Ozbourne's "Suicide Solution"

1989 - Madonna's "Like a Prayer"

1990 - Jane's Addition's album Ritual de lo Habitual

1992 - Public Enemy's "Hazy Shade of Criminal"

1995 - Michael Jackson's "They Don't Care About Us"

2000 - Bruce Springsteen's "American Skin"