Music plays a big role in our society because most folks are exposed to it for great lengths of time every day.
We listen to it when we are in the car. At work, somebody usually has a radio on to help make the day go faster. Just about all businesses softly play some type of music when we are in their stores.
In most cases, we can't get away from music even if we wanted to.
Because of this, the results of a recent study that examined the content of popular songs should make us pause and think.
In a study authored by Dr. Brian Primack, who is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, it was determined that drug and alcohol use continue to be a popular subject of many hits songs.
The study examined 279 bestselling songs from 2005 that included five musical genres: rap, country, R&B/hip-hop, rock, and pop.
According to the study's findings, 37 percent of the top country songs from that period included references to alcohol and drugs.
Only 14 percent of rock songs included those references, while 77 percent of rap songs, 20 percent of R&B/hip-hop songs, and nine percent of pop songs had those references.
The study did not attempt to link the subject matter of the songs to the behavior of those listening to them, but music often has a big impact on the attitudes of our society.
Certainly, back in the 1960s, musicians who experimented with Eastern religions and tried drugs had an impact on many who listened to their music. Because of this, I don't think it is much of a stretch to believe that that type of influence still exists today.
Perhaps the most surprising result of the study is that many more country songs had references to alcohol and drugs than did rock music.
After all, the image of the rock and roll lifestyle is one that embraces the excesses of the world. Rock and roll history is littered with people who pushed the envelope of drugs and alcohol and paid the ultimate price. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and others are well-known examples who pushed it too far.
There are examples in country music history like Hank Williams, Sr., who had those types of problems, but it is an image that really hasn’t stuck to country music. True, "crying in my beer" type songs are a common country music theme, but those songs don't come across as dangerous as the behavior associated with rock and roll. Then again, maybe those songs should.
I freely admit that I know little about rap music so I don’t have a lot to say about the study’s findings regarding that genre. All I will say is that if I were a parent, I would talk with my child about rap music if they listen to it.
If that genre is that focused on substance use and abuse, then it is clearly time to have a heart to heart talk about why they are listening to this.
The bottom line is a lot of music is targeted at our youth, but many kids aren’t ready to deal with the subject matter they are listening to.
However, a person can say that about all types of entertainment these days. Television programming that falls within the "family hour" is often laced with sexual innuendo and other topics that are too much for young people.
Also, how often have you been at an "R" rated movie and seen a group of young kids that are watching the film without adult supervision? It is a situation that happens far too much.
So what can be done about this? If you are a parent, take an active interest in the music your child is listening to. Even if kids don’t like it, they need moral guidance from adults and monitoring their music listening habits is one way this can be done.
Also, be careful what kind of music you listen to in front of kids. Children learn mostly from what they hear and see at home.
Whether we like it or not, we are all role models.