April 30th, 2011


there's nothing cold as ashes after the fire is gone

So I've been obsessed with Loretta Lynn this week. She was a bad ass! Whereas a lot of her contemperaries, like Dolly Parton, pleaded with rivals, Loretta made it clear she'd slap a bitch before she let some tramp take her man on tracks like "You Ain't Woman Enough (To Take My Man)" and especially on "Fist City".

If you don't wanna go to fist city you better detour around my town
'Cause I'll grab you by the hair o' the head and a'lift you off o' the ground
I'm not a'sayin' my baby's a saint 'cause he ain't, and that he won't cat around with a kitty
I'm here to tell you gal to lay off o' my man if you don't wanna go to fist city

It's both amusing and sad to watch her perform some of these songs for television, like in the video which follows. The song is defiant and laced with animosity, but because it is 1960s television she's bouncy, perky, and has a huge smile on her face. On top of that, country and western performers of the day wore all those rhinestones and sequins on gawdy outfits. It adds a thick sheen of artifice that makes the whole thing look ridiculous as opposed to hearing just the song. A lot of classic, Nashville country is insanely good music, but I think a combination of the downhome, hayseed nature of the lyrics and the way it was packaged for telelvision (especillay in the 60s and 70s, i.e. Hee-Haw, Grand Ole Opry, Barbara Mandrell Show, etc.) caused it to not be taken very seriously by urbanites who consider themselves much more sophisitcated.

I read somehwere once that when Buck Owens finally left Hee-Haw the reason he gave was that he was afraid the campy success of the show was going to overshadow his musical career which had preceded it, which was raw and rugged... and it's arguable that it did. It's safe to say that, more than any other genre of American music, that country & western was completely destroyed by telelvision. Its legacy is the largely down-tempo, bland modern country music which stands in its place to day.

You better close your face and stay outta my way!
  • Current Music
    Loretta Lynn - "Fist City"
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