Code Monkey Like Back Masking

By JoCo May 30, 2006

OK you ingrates, here’s another PG version of Code Monkey. This time I just reversed the bad words (just like Tom Petty did in “You Don’t Know How it Feels” – “let’s roll another tnioj”). I don’t know if you’ll like this more or less – I suspect it will be both and I’ll have to do this a third time to make sure I please everyone. Just love me internet, that’s all I ask.


Alex Holden says

Now you need an X rated version with extra gratuitous swearing.

Bob says

The reversed words sound like they could be actual monkey-speak, as if when Code Monkey get sufficiently angry, he forget speak english and revert to native tongue.

It's gnikcuf funny! :)

Ben says

I 2nd alex's motion. I felt the original version was quite fine. I mean how many 5 year olds know what it means to be a code monkey anyways? Oh, you mean those arent the bad words? LOL

Kerrin says

Oh yeah, that version is so much better then the gaps. Now we can all just forget that the first 'PG' version existed, no harm done. :)

Wilson Fowlie (aka CuriousMind) says

I second Bob. That's hilarious!

Jody says

As one of the parents who plays JC's songs for her 8 year old JC fan, I am eternally grateful for this version. Just think of this as the radio edit of the song, right?

I'm sorry to read so many people were horribly offended that someone could even want a "censored" version. JC can write whatever he wants. I asked if *I* could edit a version my son could listen to, and he offered to do it himself, thus retaining creative control. I don't see anything wrong with him trying to create a sellable "kid-friendly" version.

Randal C. says

Now you just need a version of "First of May" with all the "fucking" replaced with "parties" and it'll be perfect for Radio Disney.

Terisa Greenan says

Raise your 8 year old any way you want. Personally, I think much better lessons for an 8 year old would be lessons extolling the socio-cultural benefits of artistic freedom, and the fact that "some people have different views and opinions than we do" and MAYBE even the lesson that "some people don't find 'god damn' offensive because they don't believe in a god, like we do." Riiiight - can't you just see a Christian teaching their kid THAT? Ah well. One can dream.

Carin says

I was never saying that Jonathan Coulton shouldn't do what he wants. All I was saying is, what a sad world it has become that we need to censor words out of songs that actually give it more meaning. And I figure he has to please no one but himself.

Spiff says

I was more worried about "Mandelbrot Set" than Code Monkey. My 7-year-old daughter belts out the words to that one just like she does to all of JC's songs, and Mandelbrot's got the dreaded f-word in it. Or at least, I was worried until I actually watched her mouth while she's singing it; turns out she's singing "You’re one badass monkey fractal". Sure, "badass" isn't great, but she has no idea what the words actually are, and I doubt any serious harm is being done in any case. I'm more pleased that she's a free spirit who doesn't feel self-conscious when singing out loud than I am worried she's going to become a pre-teen gutter mouth (unless grandma's in the room of course. Then we've got a problem ;)

Marc says

JC, you should definitely create a version that replaces every profanity with "monkey". :)

Wilson Fowlie (aka CuriousMind) says


Jim says

Thanks for the PG version. I have 4/7/9 yr old JC fans; I'm trying to make sure they learn the correct way to swear at home instead of just picking it up on the street or the radio.

Brian says

Thanks for this PG version. I love the song, and I'm pretty sure some others around me wouldn't if it wasn't for the censoring. Could you please do the same for Mandelbrot Set? I'd love to be able to play it out loud without headphones.

Rob says

Backmasking....gasp!!!....Didnt the Judas Priest trial in the 80s teach you anything?

This version like "learn swearing from Satan 101!" - those poor kiddies!


Cody says

I don't have any kids but I think it would be best if they did hear the originals. Censorship is counterproductive to the goal of "keeping kids safe". Even if they don't hear the words at home, they are going to hear them somewhere else... All of the swear words are just that -- words. Different sounds formed by closing off different sections of the mouth. Your kids won't become criminals because they know how to say a word that society deems inappropriate...

Greg Williams says

"Even if they don’t hear the words at home, they are going to hear them somewhere else." Sounds like something I might have said, before I had kids myself. And, of course, it's undoubtedly true. But does that mean that there should be NO limits to what's seen and heard by adults vs. what's seen and heard by kids?

Parents have wildly differing standards for what's acceptable, but I'm afraid it's starting to be seen as a sign of weakness or stupidity to attempt to establish ANY standards at all. Artistic freedom is a great thing, and worth defending, I get it. Really, I do. But why must every adult-themed song (or movie or Web site or advertisement) be equally accessible to children?

We're all grown-ups here, right? OK, so would someone please explain to me, in terms of "artistic freedom," why an adult would feel it's appropriate to walk through a theme park filled with young children while wearing a T-shirt that reads: "If I want your opinion, I'll take my dick out of your mouth"? You may think that's riotously funny; maybe that's the style of humor that tickles your grandparents; perhaps it's even the pinnacle of modern civilized thought. Explain to me how the concept of "artistic freedom" would have been threatened if the owner of that shirt had shown some restraint by leaving it at home in a drawer last weekend, instead of wearing it to the park.

(Just one example, out of many, that weak and stupid standard-setting parents must face.)

Cody says

Greg, I do see your point but there are contextual differences...

What I mean is that the word fuck in many cases is completely appropriate for kids (sounds batshit crazy, but please hear me out)... "Fucking outside" in First of May is completely different than "You’re one badass fucking fractal". One directly references sex, one just sort of emphasizes the description of the Mandelbrot Set. The latter is not going to harm kids. It isn't going to insert imagery into their minds that they may not be mature enough to deal with. It isn't going to affect the morals or values that you are trying to instill in them.

"...while wearing a T-shirt that reads: “If I want your opinion, I’ll take my dick out of your mouth”?"

Again, context. If the shirt said "George Bush is a dick." it wouldn't be nearly as bad in spite of the same word being used.

On a side note, I do find the T-shirt slogan hilarious.

Michael says

There's encountering uses of language one can do without, and then there's selecting them. That difference is really all we were talking about.

Spiff--"Badass monkey fractal." I love it!

Cody--I see what you're saying. And having kids repeat "fucking fractal" may or may not (that's another debate) affect their moral growth directly. But it won't endear them to lots of neighborhood parents.

JC--You mean "Xerox PARC" isn't just an abbreviation, it's an evaluation?!

Michael says

Oh, and happy May 1 cuffing to all.

Andrew Jones says

Has anybody stopped to consider that this is also the 'work-safe' version? Never would I have sent the original link to my boss. This, on the other hand, is fine.
I think it's funny that so many people are arguing that the song shouldn't have been censored, blah blah blah, yet in doing so aren't they telling JC that he isn't allowed to censor? Give the author his choice, dammit!

James Anderson says

I'm glad that JoCo happily provided a pg version of his song. I have kids 4/2/1 years old that listen to JoCo's music with me. I do think parents should censor what their children listen to. I really dont need my kids using swear words at inappropriate times or places. Church is fun, you know "Jesus was one bad ass fucking savior" (now that I said that I'm off to go write an alternate christian version of mandel brot set using said lyric.

Alex Holden says

Andrew, nobody's saying JC can't do whatever he likes. I just think it's a bit sad that some people feel it necessary to shield their kids' ears from terms like "god damned login page" and "such a load of crap".

JoCo says

I think this is an interesting discussion. Obviously it's my song and I can choose to create a censored version, or refuse to create one, or create one with duck quacks, or drop outs, or back masking. And you as the listener can choose the version you like best (or create your own - it's creative commons). Some people are already getting at this above, but in general I think that the cusswords issue comes down to convention and community standards - like it or not, if your three-year-old calls someone a dick at daycare, you're going to get a phone call. You may think it's fine for kids to curse or to be exposed to curse words, and yet you still may want to spare yourself the trouble of explaining that to someone who disagrees. Granted, you can decide you'd rather have the conversation than keep your kids from cursing, that's an option too. I provided this version specifically for parents who don't want to have that conversation - I'm a parent too, and though I have some strong opinions about parenting, I don't necessarily like airing them for everyone to judge.

And for those of you who are asking why I would ever put a curse word in a song to begin with, there are some times when I find it absolutely necessary if I'm going to make the character sound real. I heard somewhere that the "Left Behind" series of Christian post-apocalyptic books is filled with bad guys who don't swear (this is people in league with Satan mind you). If it's true then that's just silly. I don't care if you curse or don't curse in your private life, but if you're creating a character, they have to speak truthfully if you want to have any sort of artistic integrity. And you're God damned right that Code Monkey would say God damned, because that's who he is.

Eric says

I fucking hate PG versions! They fucking suck! They're shit, and they're made by ass-fucking crap-holes! You, sir, have just found yourself on the list of these cock-sucking, mother fucking, sons of bitches!

Or, in Code Monkey talk:

I ginkcuf hate PG versions! They ginkcuf suck! They're tihs, and they're made by ssa-ginkcuf prac-holes! You, sir, have just found yourself on the list of these kcoc-ginkcus, mother-ginkcuf, sons of sehctib!

Kcuf uoy!

P.S. Gread job! ;)

Matt Mobley says

Amen, JC! I'm on the side of the fence where I really don't mind cursing when it's appropriate. If it's what the character would actually say or think. Swearing for the sake of swearing is something I don't enjoy and therefore don't expose myself to. If I turn on a comedy special and the guy's all F this and F that, I turn it off and find something better to do with my time.

Thank you for giving people a choice so they can still enjoy your music and retain their personal standards and values. Personally, I'll listen to the original version. That's my choice because I can relate to the character (my boss once felt he needed to show me how a broom works. 'Nuff said.) That being said, choose the one you like and ignore the other because there will never be a time when everybody agrees on this subject. The best we can do is agree to disagree and live our lives together doing our best to step on each others toes as little as possible. Deal?

Terisa says

I am sickened that the single thing that everyone seems to feel the need to "protect" children from most is references to sex of any kind. So it's better to let kids say "George Bush is a dick!" with the anger & venom & hatred which that expresses, than to talk about the fact that on the first of May people who love each other go outdoors and fuck to celebrate nature and rebirth?

Wow. That's so totally perverted in my opinion.

And since I'm an adult, and am mature enough to deal with my anger, I'll add that George Bush is a dick.

Greg Williams says

Here's my point: Parenting (like songwriting) doesn't really work as a group activity, with standards set for all by the loudest voice with the least at stake.

So anyway, how does everybody like this Jonathan Coulton guy? He does some pretty good songs, doesn't he?

Terisa says

The guy at the amusement park with the dick in mouth t-shirt *is* an issue of freedom - not artistic freedom, unless he designed the shirt, but freedom of expression. I think it's important that people do that kind of thing occassionally to remind parents that we live in a world full of lots of different types of people, and that (unlike some parents would have you guilted into) it's not *our* responsibility to protect *your* kids from whatever it is *you* don't want them to see & hear. It's *your* responsibility.

If the mere chance that you might see an "inappropriate" t-shirt outside the walls of your home makes you lock your kids in the house, then that's your choice. But if you *choose* to have them walk amongst the millions of other people who have every right to be here as you and your family, then you're taking a well-informed risk that your kid might see a t-shirt that *you* don't think he should see.

If you want more safety than that, you have to have less freedom than you currently have. Modern communes are founded on this relationship between freedom and safety, and the generally peaceful & happy people who live in them are guided by very strict rules, in return for which they get to live in an exclusive community in which they feel completely safe because they have all agreed to the same strict rules, presumably because they all have the same values.

Unless you want to give up your very comfortable, urban American lifestyle, and form a community of people who all think the same way you do, you cannot demand or expect everyone to behave as though they give a damn what your kids are exposed to. Because they don't. And they shouldn't have to. They have their own kids to worry about and maybe they wish their kids wouldn't have to see t-shirts that say "Jesus Loves You", because to an atheist family, that requires lots of conversations we'd rather not have too. C'est la vie.

Matt Mobley says

Jonathan Couton has earned a place among my all time favorite artists. He’s a very nice and talented guy who’s willing to try and please as many people as possible without compromising his creative vision. That’s very respectable and rare these days. Honestly, I think this whole thing is ridiculous because it’s music, people! If you don’t want your kids listening to it, then don’t listen to it while your kids are around. This argument can and will go on for at least a week after the universe ends and reality collapses back in upon its self in the ultimate intergalactic recycling effort. If you like his music, good for you. Keep listening and use your best judgment on when and where to play it as it fits with your life. If you don’t, why are you spending your time here? Go spend time with your kids and if they ask, explain to them why you feel the way you feel. Kids are a lot smarter than a lot of people give them credit for and if they don’t understand right away, they will eventually and they will be grateful that you were honest with them. Now can we please stop arguing over these things and focus on the true intention of the music? To be entertained?

Being serious makes my brain hurt. Could we start having fun again?

Terisa says

The music is great!!! Yay!! We all love the music!!!

But I like the political discussion too. Sorry. I thought we *were* having fun.


Matt Mobley says

Well, if you're having fun, go for it. This is one of those subjects that gives me a major headache and has caused my email address to be blocked by the Parents Television Council. I find it ironic that the only things I have ever been offended by on television have come from the brief moments when I'm flipping through the "Christian" channels. But that's another subject for another time and place.

Please, continue the debate. Don't let me stop you. :)

Bob says

I just wish JoCo's songs weren't so rife with gratuitous nudity.

Matt Mobley says

But that's the best kind of nudity. Besides, you can't expect the guy to sit in a hot studio fully clothed all day, can you?

EW says

Oy, Terisa. Are you arguing that the only alternatives are absolute freedom to do whatever the fuck one wants wherever one wants or living in a walled-off Amish commune? Remember when there was such a thing as common sense? Is there no difference between what you might say, do or wear at a frat party versus a public theme park?

To whom exactly was the "my dick out of your mouth" guy directing his shirt's brilliant humor, anyway? Were there a lot of people at the park at that day whom he expected would be blowing him and whose opinions he wished to ignore? Would he have also worn it to, say, a six-year-old girl's birthday party? How about a funeral? If you think the shirt would be inappropriate in those circumstances, then aren't you applying YOUR standards to someone else's behavior? Or are you simply acknowledging that a certain level of public decorum isn't a bad thing?

What if the guy were walking through the amusement park naked? "Hey, man, we live in a world full of lots of different types of people and some of them are nude. Sorry, uptight parents and law enforcement! Deal with it! In fact, how about if I start fucking someone right here by the Sno-Cone stand? You can't stop me, because I'm expressing myself!"

If Jonathan doesn't want to tinker with his songs, that's great! I'm sure he's also aware that, by preserving his songs' integrity, "Code Monkey" or "First Of May" probably won't be played on the radio, and some people might not play them around their kids or in their offices. The original songs still exist for you to listen to whenever and wherever you want. Next time your kids are playing Pin The Tail On The Donkey at a birthday party, put on "First Of May". I'm sure all the other parents will appreciate it.

As an adult, I'm glad that I have the choice to watch Pixar movies AND "The Sopranos". But only a moron sees no distinction between the two.

Andrea says

Terisa, you're not having fun; you're implying that my good friend Jody is a puritanical censor, and an overprotective mother to boot! Jody never asked for the regular version of this song to be taken down, she just wanted to make herself a version she could feel good about letting her kid sing along with on his MP3 player. JC was kind enough to do it for her and post it here. Where's the problem?

Also, if you're envisioning her as some sort of evangelical Christian crusader of the Falwell/Dobson variety, you've got the wrong lady. She's one of the nicest, most tolerant, most freedom-loving people I know. I know that this whole thing has nothing to do with shielding her kid from other points of view about God. She just doesn't want her 8 year old little boy cussing.

Seriously. Chill.

Len says

I like cheese.

Terisa says

The difference between walking around nude or fucking someone at the sno-cone stand and the wearing of the t shirt to the amusement park is that the first 2 are illegal most places, and the third one isn't.

I don't advocate breaking laws, but thank goodness what you write on your t shirt isn't legislated. Yet, I'm afraid.

And the term "common sense" is subjective, as are the terms "good" and "bad". I may feel it's a nice family weekend to visit a nudist camp with my entire family, adults and children, and scialize, and BBQ and play volleyball in the nude with other families, but I'm guessing that's not what you'd consider exercising "common sense." Anyway, it's useless to use terms like "good" or "common sense" when dictating what we as a society should do, since we all have different ideas about those things. We can only talk about specifics and in this case, it's profane language and children's exposure to it.

I'm truly sorry if I've offended anyone. I do in fact enjoy a spirited political debate. I think it's about the only thing that gives me hope that in the near future you won't be thrown in jail for what you write on your t shirt, because sometimes these days it feels like we're headed in that direction.

And I'm not a moron. I assure you.

Terisa says

Right - just to clarify - yes the guy has the right to wear the shirt to a 6 year old girls birthday party or a funeral or anywhere else he wants that doesn't have a dress code.

Again I reiterate - thank goodness we cannot be thrown in jail for what's written on our shirts. Because that's a scary scary world!

Matt Mobley says

Me too, Len. Especially mozzarella and dubliner. Them's good eatin'.

Wilson Fowlie (aka CuriousMind) says

Matt, Len: have you tried gruyere? It's usually found in those little aluminum triangles, but it can also be bought in 'bulk', at the right supermarket. Delicious, but kind of expensive.

Uh-oh. I thought I was being apolitical, but now we're going to be deluged with all the people who think it should be spelled 'aluminium'. Drat.

Greg Williams says

Have you ever tried deep-fried cheese curds? They're a real Wisconsin taste treat. Get 'em while they're squeaky!

Matt Mobley says

Why, no, I haven't. They're good, you say? I've had fresh ones in Idaho on a trip through there, but never drowned in blistering oil.

Bob says

I'm eagerly anticipating Len's visual rendition of this discussion. :)

Len says THAT is funny! I think I will. :D

JoCo says

For the record, I don't mind the swearing discussion (or the cheese discussion for that matter). This comment area is for you guys, I already have my pulpit (it's an RSS feed called Thing a Week). You know, be civil and everything, but sure, talk. I personally think it's a good sign - maybe I'm relevant!

EW says

Hey, Terisa, feel free to go to that nudist camp and play volleyball with your family all weekend. Doesn't bother me a bit. But you don't walk around naked in or have sex in amusement parks...because it's illegal? And the guy can wear his "dick" shirt long as there isn't a dress code? Sounds like you're allowing society to dictate how you should act and dress. I thought caving to "the Man" was a bad thing. By the way, I never said there should be a law against the "dick" shirt. Or that the guy COULDN'T wear his "dick" shirt to a funeral or a girl's birthday party. But why would he? Unless he wanted to provoke people, was totally oblivious or was a complete asshole. Or it was Larry Flynt's funeral.

Sometimes I fear that people define "tolerance" as "everyone should tolerate whatever I want to do, but I don't have to tolerate anyone else's points of view". All I'm saying is that being aware that your actions, your lyrics -- even your t-shirt slogans -- have an effect on others isn't a sign of weakness. It's a sign of respect. Maybe if I'm going to Disneyland, I'll keep the dick-sucking shirt in my suitcase that day out of courtesy to others and save it for a more appropriate occasion. You know, like a wedding.

As for cheese, my vote is for cheddar. Bourgeois, I know...but danged tasty!

Cody says


I am not trying to say that you shouldn't be able to censor your songs. Hell, they are YOUR songs. Do with them as you wish (I'm just thankful that you did record them because I thoroughly enjoy them... And if anyone else
makes their own censored versions to "protect" their kids then great. All power to them. My only intention was to get people to consider that words alone (no matter how vulgar and inappropriate society thinks they are) will not ruin their kids. I am fairly sure that you knew exactly what I meant from my first post, I'm just clarifying to be absolutely certain (you can't express tone through words over the internet, so sometimes things can get lost in translation)...

I agree, swearing can be necessary in some songs to keep the sense of realism in the characters portrayed. I just hate watching some movie where something extremely tragic or emotionally devastating happens and a character is saying words like "darn". Suspension of disbelief collapses right then and there and you are reminded that it is only a movie.

[I am sickened that the single thing that everyone seems to feel the need to “protect” children from most is references to sex of any kind. So it’s better to let kids say “George Bush is a dick!” with the anger & venom & hatred which that expresses, than to talk about the fact that on the first of May people who love each other go outdoors and fuck to celebrate nature and rebirth?]

I agree. First of May would be okay in my opinion if it was properly explained to children. The line in Mandelbrot requires no explanations to go with the song however. I guess that is the difference, because the "fuck" in one song is describing an action, whereas the other one is just a word to color a sentence.

Matt Mobley,

I am having fun. I enjoy debating more than just about anything because it seems debates are usually healthy for all of the people involved. It helps people grow into more well-rounded individuals by hearing other people's perspectives on an issue that they have already formulated their own opinion on. Once again I would like to reiterate that I am not telling people not to censor the songs. It does not affect me in any way. I merely wanted to share my own personal opinion on the subject. Please, enjoy the discussion for what it's worth and don't get too bent out of shape about it.

Matt Mobley says

Good. I'm glad you're having fun. Don't get me wrong. I enjoy a good debate as much as the next guy and I always want to hear the other side of the story. This one, however, seems to have about 37 distinct sides (not counting the cheese) and is one I've been in the middle of way too much lately. It's also one of the easiest ones to let get out of hand. So, sorry if I seemed a bit touchy on the subject. The last thing I want is for people to stop talking because once the talking stops, the fighting starts.

Cody says

I guarantee you an online discussion does nothing to piss me off (unless people are putting their fingers over their ears and screaming)... Debates are give and take. I share my views. You share yours. The censorship debate can be a very fun and interesting one because of the many differing points of view.

When the fighting starts, I am usually one of the guys who tries to moderate the thing. If you think about it, we are all here for one reason: We enjoy the music that Jonathan Coulton creates. Let's enjoy these songs and maybe have a few interesting discussions along the way.

Matt Mobley says

Precisely. He makes great music and obviously people care. This is good. It's also cool that people of all ages and backgrounds are getting into it and we feel free to share our thoughts.

Back on the other subject, it's kind of creepy that I turned on the tv tonight and I'm greeted by an episode of Good Eats all about cheese. A sign? Perhaps.

ClockworkDragon says

Johnny C,

You're orignal was inspired and if a few DRAH-WOLB S'SELOHSSA can't handle your brilliance just tell them to KCUF themselves.

ZachBG says

Personally, I want a version with all the brand names removed. Such crass commercialism, these "Fritos" and "Mountain Dew" references!

(This was a joke. And I'm a Swiss cheese kinda guy.)

Adam says

Terisa said:
"...fucking someone at the sno-cone stand..."

That's the greatest mental image I've had in a long time, thank you.

"Crushed nuts?"
"No, I'm just tired."

Hank says

As I was considering the sentiment that "All of the swear words are just that — words. Different sounds formed by closing off different sections of the mouth," it occurred to me that if that was the actual case, swear words would cease to exist. If everybody used them with no taboo, there would be no reason to use them (swear words holding little symantic value beyond their vulgarity). Ironically enough, we who find them offensive and prefer songs without them seem to be perpetuating their use. Perhaps those who see no problem with using or broadcasting swear words should thank those of us who sustain their meaning by our abstinence.

I'll also note that there is a categorical difference betwee a parent endorsing a behavior (in this case swearing by playing and enjoying a song laced with swear words) and being exposed to it at school. Simply because children will come into contact with swearing, among other behaviors, among peers does not mean parents should throw their arms up and swear along with them. Parenting has results, even in the world as it is.

Cody says


I agree that people who take offense to these words perpetuate their use. When they no longer offend anyone, I'm sure their use would go down. So why not just stop caring? Reacting to these words simply ensure that they will be in wider use than if you didn't care at all... And yes, they are just sounds. It is ultimately up to the person who hears these sonic combinations whether to let it bother them or not. When they exit my mouth, they are mere sounds. When they enter your ears you are attaching a meaning (and maybe more importantly, a connotation) to them. "One badass fucking fractal." To me: a series of words with a clear and concise meaning. To some people: crude and unacceptable language. As you can see, it's all in the eye of the beholder. Finding things offensive is a choice.

I've got a few questions for you or anyone else who finds certain words offensive:

1) If someone "bleeps" out a word, but you still know exactly what the word is, the context that the word is being used in and can even imagine what the word might sound like in the sentence, has the person who censored the word done anything productive at all?

2) If someone is giving the finger on television and the broadcaster pixelates or blurs the finger, have they helped to curb the show's ability to offend? You know what finger it is and what the person means by it so what is the difference? And ultimately, what is the point of blurring a finger? The offensive aspect of "the finger" is the meaning attached to it, not a graphic image...

Ben says

JC - just because some people can't help trying to win the special olympics event that every argument over the internet is, don't go thinking you're relevant :D

Just teasing of course. Because of a filter block to pages labeled as "songs", i have never been to the songs page. I can only download the thing a week. So mandlebrot set Ive never heard, along with quite a few other JC classics (or so im told as i havent heard them).

Personally, I think censorship is only wrong when it is mandated on the artist. When an artist freely chooses to offer an altered version of his own work in order to appeal to an audience that might not be of the correct mental experience to handle swear words, more power too it.

Remember folks, when he wrote this song, it probably didn't go straight to the tape out of his head without any changes. Every change he makes is him censoring his content. Editing is simply censoring out the suck.

Freak says

Cody: I'm reminded of

OTOH, if they are "just sounds", why are you listening? Those sounds must have some meaning.

Alex says

Being a Radio DJ and a Hardcore Fan I do really appreciate it whenever any artist supplies a clean version of a song, it means I can play the song I enjoy and not have the FCC on my ass.

Mattie says

Thank you everyone!
I belong to the debate club at school but am currently on exam leave. Reading this has significantly reduced my need for disagreement and I'm much less likely to piss off my little sister with long rants about life, the universe and everything.

I support having a "clean" version of the song for those that want it, why not? I'm a little confused about the reasoning behind "Code Monkey" needing one, I have to admit. I don't think I know of many people who would find "god-dammed" offensive (even my very Christian friends) and crap also seems pretty harmless.

Mind you, when my little brother was 9 his favourite game was "Bullshit", so maybe I just have crappy parents...:) In the end I think it's a lot more important for kids to learn about how to behave appropriately, taking the feelings and opinions of those around them into account, than simply banning all "bad" words from the household in the hope that they won't pick them up. Maybe then they'll grow up into adults who are sensitive enough to not wear that "dick" shirt to Disneyland but still have enough of a sense of humour to enjoy it.

Anyway, I'm going to get back to listening to "Mandelbrot Set" with my dad and singing along extra loud to the line "badass fucking fractal". It's funny the things that will bring a maths-geek and his spawn together.

Thanks again!

Michael says

Um ... shredded co-jack. And mozzarella string sticks, the more the better.

Cody says

Haha I just love how there are two conversations going on at once. One dealing with the complex issue of censorship and the other tackling the equally important subject of cheese preferences.

By the way, my on topic comment:

The backmasking is definitely the way to go for any censored versions. It seamlessly integrates into the song and doesn't draw too much attention to the censored parts.

Radek says

Anything smoked as far as cheeses go....I love the taste of smoked cheeses

awry1 says

Cheese made from the milk of a lactating seal, stolen from her teat as her helpless fluffy babies are clubbed to death right in front of her.
I don't have any opinion on the backmasking... but I love cheese. And I hate seal.

Matt Mobley says

Seal cheese? Never had it, personally. I imagine it's sweet. The clubbing part is rather disturbing, though. Particularly since I've seen photos from the Pribilof Island sealing operations in the early 1900's. It's one of the more "colorful" collections in the National Archives. And that's about all I have to say about that.

Jeremy Friesner says

Since we're off any sort of topic by this point, I have a question:

The last 15 seconds or so of "Mandelbrot Set" contain a strange series of successively rising tones ... is there any mathematical significance to that? It sounds like it might be an aural representation of a series of Z(n+1) = Z(n)^2+c calculations -- in which case, very clever :^)

Ian says

As someone who is not going to reproduce, but who is an uncle of three wonderful little girls, I completely understand where guardians are coming from on this matter. If Jonathan's songs were complete inaccessible crap then we wouldn't worry about whether or not kids would hear them, because they wou;dn't. But if these songs existed when I was 8 then I would still want to listen to every one of them.
Thankfully my parents helped me understand what bad words were all about, and that they were not a big deal (but they're only for grown-ups to say) but some kids haven't had that luxury. When it comes right down to it, if you can make accomodations for various sensitivities, there's no reason to deny a kid a good song to listen to.

Jeremy: I think that's probably from moving a slider controlling a digital synthesis parameter on a synthesizer. My old Yamaha could edit one parameter at a time while playing, and I could get the same kind of sound by doing so.

Greg Williams says

Nicely stated, Ian.

Not to offend any of their fans by suggesting their songs are anything but clever and insightful, but the Insane Clown Posse probably aren't getting a lot of requests for kid-friendly versions of their tunes.

My only problem with the backmasking is that it makes it harder to sing along: ".. maybe manager wanna write dieglide log-in page himself ..."

But, hey, I'm not complaining! Really!

Seriously, you gotta try fried cheese curds. With a cold Leinenkugel's.

Len says

There are these items my wife and I affectionately call "Cheese Weasels" -- basically cheese-filled pretzels that you heat in the oven or microwave. Man! Those taste like summer to me! After I wash the stink of corruption out of my mouth with some Wylers, of course.

Matt Mobley says

I 100% agree that ICP is something that should be kept away from kids by all means possible. However, I do consider myself to be at least part Juggalo. It's amazing how many people condem them because they hear the language and just see the tip of the iceburg with lyrics about killing people and drug use. Taken at face value, I can see how it would be very offensive to a good number of people. If you dig deeper and look at the type of people and situations they're talking about, it takes on a whole new meaning. I absolutely hated them until I heard their cover of "Lets go all the way." After that, I started actually listening to what they were saying and really got into it. But, yeah, not for the kiddles by any means.

While in Phoenix I got addicted to Dubliner cheese. It's an Irish cheese, obviously, and is kind of like parmasean with extra bite. With just a little bit of it, you can change raman noodles into something that actually tastes like food.

Jody LaFerriere says

I'm going to have to go with feta, and lots of it.

Seeing as I'm one of the people who started all this, I'd like to throw in that yesterday I heard a song I really wanted my son to hear because it's a fantastic song (Hide and Seek by Imogen Heap) and the the first line has the word "hell" in it. My son immediately said "I heard a bad word" and I replied "pretend you didn't."

I'm not a moron, but JCs songs are so damned singable and my kid sings all the time, and I *know* he'd be winging the "god-damned" around the school yard, or worse, my mom's house.

He understands the concept of words you don't say in public, especially if you're in 2nd grade, but he sings songs without even thinking about it.

Anyway, as I previously mentioned, I only asked him if I could do it, and he offered to make a pg version. I never even mentioned the word crap, I use that one all the time around the house. And as the DJ said, he can now play these songs on the radio. Isn't that what we all want? For JC to big huge so we can say that we knew him before anyone else did? Cause then maybe he'll take us for rides in his stretch hummer.

Heh. I said hummer.

rob says

...and is it that fractal
"badass fucking". or
a "bad assfucking"?


Bob says

Hmmm, that brings up another similar point...

In 'First of May', when you say "we fucked a man with a tan sharpei", does that mean that the man you fucked was in possesion of a tan sharpei, or does it mean that you used the tan sharpei as an implement with which to fuck the man?

Bob says

...and if it's the latter, I *really* wanna see Len do a picture of that! :D

Paul says

an artist's gotta do what an artist's gotta do, know what i'm saying? on the flip side, though, if they didn't have any connection or consideration for their audiences, well then, goddamnit we'd be in the most worthless fucking artistic environment ever.

i'm pretty sure i was just ironic. i appreciate that.

Paul says

connection to*

mhenry1384 says

Just to tell you where I am coming from, I am a dyed in the wool atheist. I could not be less concerned that Jesus will be offended if I swear. However, in my daily life, I rarely ever swear. Seems a lazy, lower class way to express yourself. My two year old, unfortunately, has recently decided that his favorite phrase is "God Damn It!". This has proven awkward, for example, at a friend's funeral. I was wondering where he picked this phrase up as I, as I said, rarely swear myself. The other day, he and I were out fixing the garage door (I was fixing and he was watching) and I had some trouble with the grease and I said, "God damn it!"

D'oh! Hmmm. I guess maybe that's where he got it. Apparently I swear more than I think.

The point is, kids are impressionable and if my son says "God damn it" to grandma, someone is going to get his mouth washed out with soap. And it's gonna be me.

So anyhoo, speaking as the polar opposite of a wild-eyed Christian radical, if my son was old enough to listen to some Coulton, I'd give him the censored version.

worlebird says

I personally love the original version.
While the profanity didn't bother me, I like the idea of having one I could play with my kids around. But neither of the PG versions sound very good to me.
I would have preferred a re-recorded lyric, for example, replacing "goddamned" with "stupid", or something. It doesn't have quite the same ryhthmn, but I've tried singing it that way, and it works ok. (My first instinct was to replace it with "goshdarned", but that sounds REALLY stupid, in spite of the rythmn being right.)

Yen says

I agree with there being a censored version, and an origional.
but backmasking? eh...
you'd have to put in another word
like stupid, freakin,. etc.
a personal favorite is "bleep-ing" (you say the word "bleep")
or for fans of that one show, you could say "goram" :)

on the issue of censorship, I was once watching 'the amazing race', and a contestant said "asshole". in the subtitles, they censored it as "ass****". kinda funny.
and on the TV version of 'the matrix,' they changed the line "I give you the finger *finger*, and you give me my phone call" to
"I give you the flipper *flips-off off-screen*"
they cut out the context but left in the reference to the "bad word" ("the finger" is a bad word? I thought it was just a rude hand jesture)

also, I recently had some real parmesan.(not the stuff you get in a can)
it was amazing.
-just my $0.02

Marc says

Thanks JC! I like JC because he is a fantastic song writer and performer. I purchased every song he's written and made available to buy and hope he continues to produce fantastic music.

Part of my love of his music is that it is just so damn good! And yes, my 4 year old LOVES his music as well. BUT...I don't let my 4 year old listen to curse words (and no, I don't really care if you agree with that or not.) So I love a PG version. At the same time I wouldn't want sanitized versions only.

For instance, I think 1st of May ROCKS as the same time my son LOVES the opening lines (talking birds, squirrels for friends). After that I shut it off and sing the rest for him as 'outdoor playing starts today.' So would I like an "outdoor playing" version? Absolutley. It's a fantastic tune and I'd like to play it all for my son. Do I want the original scrubbed away? Hell no!! In fact I'd be greatly disappointed if it was!

First of May, First of May
Outdoor playin' starts today
So grab your favorite friend
And let's go outside and play

Wilson Fowlie (aka CuriousMind) says

JC: if you're going to make G-rated versions of your songs (and I have no preference as to whether you do or not), my preference would be for you to write alternate lyrics.

I understand that that* can't always be supported under the time pressure created by TAW.

(In the case of Code Monkey, I actually *do* like the backmasking - see the second comment in this thread for why.)

But in general, I'd prefer something with which I can sing along.

Marc (above) got me thinking: I think there *is* a place in the world for a kid-friendly version of First of May, along the lines of Marc's lyrics. Not to protect kids from the lyrics, as such, but because the theme is simply inapplicable to them. However, a song that extolled the virtues (or just the fun) of playing outside, without being preachy about it, would be valuable. I think a kid-oriented 'First of May' could be that song.

*Ref: The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde.

Bob says

I'll allow for the possibility that Utah Walmart versions of some songs can have some value, but the Sesame Street version of First of May is just flat out ridiculous.

You might as well just write a brand new song from scratch, it will be just as relevant to the original.

Paul says

I have to agree with Bob: the charm of First of May doesn't come just from the fact that it's blatantly obscene, but that its obscenity is placed along side the unabashedly folksy melody and the fact that lines such as 'squirrel and chipmunk friends' and 'bring a blanket and i promise i will brush the ants off' are so innocent. Although a different balance might work, I'm not sure the song would work if it didn't have the contrast. That said, if you did choose to censor it, the fact that it would be a completely different song might end up rocking in the unconventional way.

Brandy says

BOB: Utah is a nice place to live. And people do swear here. Mostly they swear IN Wal-Mart. We like our own swear words - Flippin, Fricken, Fetchin - We have so many F-words, you all have no idea.

Honestly. Harumph. ;)

Kevbo says

I'm offended by the reply following this one.

Soda says

I'm offended by the reply previous to this one.

Bob says

My friend has a 15-month-old who giggles uncontrollably everytime she says "shit".

I think it's cute.

Kiki B. says

Cheese... Fried cheese curds sound very tasty indeed. My favorite cheeses are brie, asiago, and smoked gouda.

As far as prepared cheese dishes, deep-fried camembert is a classic. Served in Germany, where deep-frying the fattiest foods available is a popular pastime, fried wheels of camembert are served with toast points and a fruit preserve, usually strawberry or cranberry (the latter being my favorite). I travel to my old hometown in Germany just to eat at my old favorite restaurant and gobble up plate after plate of this delicious fried cheese.

Also, the French Canadians make a tasty dish called poutine, which consists (in its most basic form) of french fries, a special kind of cheese curd that I only know as 'squeaky cheese' because it squeaks when you chew it, and a tasty gravy that translates as "hot chicken sauce." It is absolutely heavenly. Ashton is a popular fast food chain throughout Quebec province, and serves by far the most delicious poutine there is. If you want to try it at home, use either BK fries (or a good, crisp frozen fry - crispness is key), prepare one of those powdered turkey gravy mixes in the pouch (it's the closest in flavor), and chunked mozzarella - the very soft fresh variety made with whole milk, NOT part-skim. You layer all these into a bowl and microwave for 30-45 seconds or until the cheese gets really soft and ever-so-slightly melted. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm... you can also add (cooked) ground beef or sausage.

There are variations called Italian poutine, gratinee varieties which use spaghetti sauce instead of gravy, and often have any combination of mushrooms, bell peppers, pepperoni, and Italian sausage layered in. They're then topped with shredded mozzarella and baked til golden-bubbly (the gratinee part). These are very yummy too.

Matt Mobley says

Great. Now I'm hungry. Thanks, Kiki. ;)

Glenn says

I like pizza.

I also really, really like "badass monkey fractal" and love the idea that you, JoCo, should make the child and work-safe versions of your songs use "monkey". It's so appropriate!

I'll have to try it at work. "What the monkey is up with this monkey company! Why can't one monkey person write some monkey documentation!?"

(Sorry for falling down on the job as most posty guy. I'll try harder.)

Matt Kuzma says

EW: Terisa had a good point but she made it badly. I will attempt to do a better job making her point, not so I can convince you, but so that you recognize the value in the point she was making.

Instead of talking about freedom versus security (which isn't the right term but does make the discussion more 'relevant' by relating it to the war on terror and the Patriot act and all those things) I will talk about freedom versus conformity.

We in America value freedom - the freedom to do whatever you want and express yourself in whatever ways you desire and to express whatever ideas suit your fancy. Freedom is a fundamental tenet of our society and it should be because it makes a great place to live.

But all society functions to some degree on conformity, and conformity does explicitly limit freedom. If we agree that people shouldn't have sex in public we are explicitly taking away the freedom to have sex in public. If we agree that people shouldn't swear, we are explicitly taking away the freedom to swear.

So there must always be a trade-off between freedom and conformity. And when you say "hey, it'd be nice if people didn't wear offensive shirts to public amusement parks" you are saying, in actuality, that you want to take away people's freedom to wear certain shirts in public and people like Terisa react to that. Now I know you were really just saying it'd be nice if everyone thought a little about what they were doing and didn't wear shirts like that to places that aren't appropriate. But the upshot is the same, that you're advocating a certain degree of conformity in place of freedom - and that advocacy isn't okay to some people. Personally, I'd like to go to an amusment park where there weren't any kids. Maybe the reasonable solution would be for some amusement parks to have "family-friendly time" and "adults only".

But her point is that different people find different things offensive for different reasons and to shield some people from what they find offensive (but what others view as being fine) is to enforce conformity in place of freedom.

But the issue is "where do we strike that balance?"

And where Terisa strayed from her point is when she balked at your absurd analogy. Because her point is still valid - we as a society need to find the balance between freedom and conformity. One of the ways we do that is through law-making. Most people agree that having sex in public is rude, so we make a law against it. Most people agree that being nude in public is rude, so we make laws against that as well. But those laws DO restrict freedom. It's just that most of us are fine with giving up those freedoms because we didn't intend to exercise them in the first place. Others find it impossible to live in societies that are so restrictive.

But foul language, sexual discussion, anger, violence, and religion are all issues for which there are significant number of people on both sides. So it's scary that parents, in the name of protecting their children, often lead the charge in restricting our expression of those things. And the fact is, parents will think they're being totally reasonable when they ask everyone to cooperate and conform to their personal standards of decency.

The truth is, I have a hard time defending the shirt in your example, but I, like Terise, don't want to go to an amusement park where, because some parents found it offensive, nobody can wear shirts with bad words on them, or shirts with political slogans, or clothes that reveal too much or...

And I certainly don't want to live in a country where personal expression is limited by what some people find offensive.

And, worst of all, I don't want to have these kinds of interesting discussions shouted down by people for whom disagreement is offensive.

Patricia says

As the parent of two kids (5 and 2 y.o.) who memorize song lysrics after one take, I am happy to be able to add Code Monkey to their music mix this week.

Really, all PC-ing aside (and I can PC with the best of 'em), sometimes I just don't want to get into a discussion about free speech with my kids. I just want to enjoy something without having to explain it later on when they repeat the lyrics to their grandmother.

Thanks, Jonathan!

Len says

Seriously. Try some Cheese Weasels today. They are in your grocer's freezer.

Tim says

I appreciate you going through the trouble of making a "clean" version for younger audiences or people that just don't prefer profanity such as myself, but I do think the censoring of "crap" was a bit excessive :P

That being said, I'd like if you made a version with just the first "cuss word" censored. Just a suggestion. Also, are you planning on making clean/PG versions of any other songs?

Pikadude No. 1 says

Hey all, in all of this "THINK OF THE CHILDREN!"-ing, let's not forget that there are adults - I'm one of them - who find the c-word distasteful. I'm happy to have a version of the song with the yuckiness removed. Yay JC!

Or, to quote another JC song: It's hard to overstate my satisfaction.