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Sharp lyrics

Nick Robinson | 18:17 UK time, Thursday, 8 June 2006

An eagle-eared reader of the Magazine Monitor has an interesting take on David Cameron's worries about music that promotes knife crime. Nick Rikker writes from Barcelona to point out that tracks from Mr C's favourite bands have the odd sharp reference:

The Smiths, I know it's over
- "The knife wants to slit me/Do you think you can help me?"
Radiohead - Knives Out - "Look into my eyes/I'm not coming back/So knives out"
Radiohead - Phillipa Chicken
-"I got bombs, I got guns, I got brains"


  • 1.
  • At 07:48 PM on 08 Jun 2006,
  • Martin Chippindale wrote:

Hi, Nick.
I don't think Music influences people to act irresponsibly, It's all down to the individual. In the current climate Knife/Gun crime is an obvious major concern in most major cities. I think David Cameron is right to voice concerns but to accuse Radio stations of promoting Knife crime because of the songs they choose to play is Crazy. I wouldn't want to guess the meaning of "Day Tripper" by The Beatles or "Golden Brown" by The Stranglers.

  • 2.
  • At 08:01 PM on 08 Jun 2006,
  • Tom Ravenswood wrote:

Lyrics can be quoted from any number of bands which appear contentious in our (current) politically correct and litigious times. How about Radiohead's 'You want me? Well f*cking well come and find me. I'll be waiting with a gun and a pack of sandwiches and nothing...' from the sublimely cynical Talk Show Host? What point is Mr Cameron trying to make, beyond the chocolate orange soundbite. You could use William S Burroughs cut-up techniques on any political speech to similar effect, including Mr Cameron's many flights of oratory. Surely context is everything?

  • 3.
  • At 08:04 PM on 08 Jun 2006,
  • andrew wrote:

hi Nick,

I'm new to london and saw you in Westminster today, almost stopped to ask directions to the nearest tube station but you looked pretty intense about something or other, so I thought it probably wouldn't go down too well. I found the tube station easily enough, along with a tescos shaped like a corridor?

also, I wandered around the st james's park area a bit, and its horrible? (very busy, overcrowded and literally stinks like a farm?)

have fun,

  • 4.
  • At 08:23 PM on 08 Jun 2006,
  • craig wrote:

Cameron's comments are a opportunistic, cynical and tacky play to the blue rinse brigade, music and art in general can reflect societies ills as well all those positive aspects to life, music isn't brainwashing people to take up knife and guns.

If you want to talk about violence and social turmoil, why not tackle some serious subjects like civil conflict in Iraq, Darfor .... human rights abuses, illegal rendition..... Strangely he's quiet about them, please journalists start to ask some serious questions of this man and party.

  • 5.
  • At 09:01 PM on 08 Jun 2006,
  • Allan Ang wrote:

Fair enough Nick, there may be the odd lyric or two with knife references in the songs of Radiohead and the Smiths, but the songs don't seek to glamourise knife culture like much gangsta rap does.

Radiohead listeners are much more likely to be campaigning about climate change awareness or against the Iraq war.

  • 6.
  • At 09:16 PM on 08 Jun 2006,
  • Anthony Cormack wrote:

Speaking of the Smiths, I'm personally rather surprised that Morrissey's comments regarding the issue of vivisection ("We're going to get you" etc etc) haven't raised more of a rumpus. Regardless of where one stands on the issue, it seems to me that people have had the police knocking on their door for a lot less recently.

On the issue of things like Radiohead, I'd make the rather unfasionable point that people who listen to Radiohead tend to be depressive middle class teenagers (I exaggerate, of course... somewhat) whereas a lot of the sort of thing Cameron is talking about is widely, rightly or wrongly, associated with a rather undesirable culture that glamourises violence and tends to cheapen the value of human life etc.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that arguably you're comparing apples with oranges.

  • 7.
  • At 12:50 AM on 09 Jun 2006,
  • Kieron Rees wrote:

I can't help but wonder what our Dave thinks of The Smiths classic "Margaret On The Guillotine".

It shouldn't take too much guess work to realise who this early 1980s song is concerned with!

Those lyrics from Knives Out are positively tame - later on in the song you get this:

So knives out
Cook him up
Squash his head
Put him in the pot

Somehow I think cannibalism is a somewhat worse thing to be promoting than gun and knife crime.

You've missed out the most obvious one, Cameron's "this is the only song from childhood that I remember the lyrics to", the Benny Hill song Ernie, which features a duel. OK, using buns, but it's surely the principle that counts.

"And he looked up, in pained surprise as the concrete hardened crust
Of a stale pork pie caught him in the eye, and Ernie bit the dust."
  • 10.
  • At 09:12 AM on 09 Jun 2006,
  • Rex wrote:

Who can understand what they are singing anyway?
(And who really cares?)

  • 11.
  • At 09:43 AM on 09 Jun 2006,
  • RobC wrote:


You'll be quoting the violent lyrics of nursery rhymes next. I'm sure David Cameron has sung 'Oranges and lemons' to his children; does the lyrics 'Here comes a chopper to chop off your head' glorify knife crime?

  • 12.
  • At 04:33 PM on 09 Jun 2006,
  • Harry G wrote:

I think the question that must be asked is whether the music and lyrics are likely to incite hatred or violence. Cameron is right to attack music which does. I don't think the same can be said of Radiohead or Bennie Hill.

  • 13.
  • At 08:05 PM on 09 Jun 2006,
  • edwin : South London wrote:

Nick : Martin Chippindale is right in every way when he says the reaction to these stimululi is the reaction of the individual. Speaking as a professional, I know that thousands of young people will indeed be affected by this input, and their subsequent actions are very sadly in the hands of the gods. When we understand this we have to do everything to stop manage these inputs. This is not " censorship " but preventive action.

Being "liberal " and " cool " about this is plain crazy - see the latest awful violent killing reported today in the news. Do we really think there is no relationship ?

  • 14.
  • At 09:05 PM on 09 Jun 2006,
  • Russell wrote:

I can't stand little Dave but this is just silly. Why does any one care that some of the band's he likes/is told to like have non-PC lyrics. Let us judge him on his poor, and lack of, policies rather than these trivial matters.

  • 15.
  • At 09:19 PM on 09 Jun 2006,
  • P Stewart wrote:

Far worse than the lyrics, is the music - or rather, the absence of it.
Cachophony more like it.

  • 16.
  • At 04:06 AM on 12 Jun 2006,
  • Richard O'shea wrote:

Radiohead are a very political band so I would expect their lyrics to reflect important social and political comment. Gangsta rap has some responsibility for cultural change but this is well documented and doesn't need DC to wage in with his halfpenny.

PS Radiohead are the best British band for decades, better than the Beatles in my humble opinion.

  • 17.
  • At 10:54 PM on 16 Jun 2006,
  • Thomas Mayne wrote:

As a 16 yr old currently undergoing my GCSEs I have to say that there is a certain amount of influence exerted by music and other medium. Who do you think we look up to? Im in state education and i happen know that alot of the less savoury characters who haunt the areas behind the PE block look upon being a drug dealer or a "gangsta" is the pinnicle of their ambitions merely due to the glamour associated with 50 cent and other gangsta rap. It is true though, that Cameron was possibly being oppotunistic in his accusation, but i feel that people dont really give him a chance just because he is a tory. Perosnally ive known nothing but labour and frankly i think they are a corrupt, self-serving government whos only aim is to perpetuate their own importance.

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