Censored Songs: 10 Hit Radio Edits
Artists and their record labels will censor songs for a variety of reasons. There could be a naughty word, or a particular lyric may be deemed offensive to the mainstream country music listening audience. Almost since the invention of the guitar, singers have been told: “You can’t say that on the radio” — and they’ve responded with some creative alternatives.
This list of 10 censored country songs includes hits from the last decade and beyond. Dozens more could have been included, but these 10 are songs you may not even have known had a line changed to play nice with country radio.
This 2011 hit from Miranda Lambert was her first single from ‘Four the Record.’ The edit comes at the very end, and it’s one few will argue against.
Radio edit: “Come and get it!“
Original: “Come and get your s—!“
‘A Boy Named Sue’
One wonders if Johnny Cash had released his song in 2013 instead of 1969, if the B-word would have slipped passed censors. Four decades ago, that wasn’t going to fly, however.
Radio edit: “I’m the son of a (bleep) that named you Sue!”
Original: “I’m the son of a b— that named you Sue!”
In light of what is allowed on country radio — songs that celebrate gun violence, excessive drinking and infidelity — it seems cheeky that the censors draw the line at cocaine. This 2012 hit from Eric Church is the first of two songs to clean up the white mess.
Radio edit: “Your caffeine kiss and nicotine love”
Original: “Your cocaine kiss and caffeine love”
Zac Brown Band reluctantly released a radio edit for ‘Toes,’ a hit from their 2009 album ‘The Foundation.’ The curse word they used had been uttered on radio before, but the hooky nature of the song left parents concerned their little kids would repeat the swear word over and over again (as kids do). A few stations also blurred the “roll a big fat one” line.
Radio edit: “I got my toes in the water, toes in the sand”
Original: “I got my toes in the water, a– in the sand”
‘Picture to Burn’
Taylor Swift‘s 2008 hit got her in a small amount of trouble, as the original was accused of being a gay slur. Her supporters were quick to say that’s not how she meant it, but the lyrics were changed for the radio edit just in case.
Radio edit: “So go and tell your friends that I’m obsessive and crazy / That’s fine, you won’t mind if I say …”
Original: “So go and tell your friends that I’m obsessive and crazy / That’s fine, I’ll tell mine that you’re gay!”
‘Boys ‘Round Here’
One could argue that the radio edit of Blake Shelton‘s song is as effective as the original. It’s a case where the curse doesn’t do much — if anything — to improve the quality of the song. Lip almost rhymes with spit, but a small word was changed to allow for radio play.
Radio Edit: “Backwoods legit, don’t take no lip“
Original: “Backwoods legit, don’t take no s—“
‘Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue’
Over time, country radio listeners and programmers got over Toby Keith‘s effective use of the A-word in his 2002 hit ‘Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue.’ Over a decade later, the controversy the song created is barely a memory.
Radio edit: “We’ll put a boot in your (bleep), it’s the American way!”
Original: “We’ll put a boot in your a–, it’s the American way!”
‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia’
The radio edit of ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia’ is far less effective than the Charlie Daniels Band original, but it’s tough to argue for the use of the B-word now, and it was even tougher in 1979.
Radio edit: “I done told you once, you son of a gun, I’m the best there’s ever been”
Original: “I done told you once, you son of a b—h, I’m the best there’s ever been”
‘The Thunder Rolls’
The unreleased third verse of Garth Brooks‘ 1991 hit song ‘The Thunder Rolls’ tells the rest of the story. It’s what happens after the woman discovers her man is cheating on her. This version was likely scrapped due to violence.
Third Verse: “She runs back down the hallway / To the bedroom door / She reaches for the pistol / Kept in the dresser drawer / Tells the lady in the mirror / He won’t do this again / Cause tonight will be the last time / She’ll wonder where he’s been.”