Thursday, February 23, 2012

this is country music

Some songs are just gendered. This one can't be anything but a reflection on those trad gender roles. Or take Patsy Cline's cool weepie, "Three Cigarettes in an Ashtray" - that looks like you should be able to just switch the genders, but it doesn't work, because the symbol of the cigarette is gendered and the solitary cigarette has a completely different meaning depending on who's smoking it. Or Willie Nelson's classic "Blame it on the Times" - can't be anything but a man running away and blaming a woman according to traditional stereotype. It looks like it ought to reverse very neatly (though obviously the line about "I'm acting like a man" would present a problem) - but no. The singer's unkind mockery only works when the target is a bossy, self-centered woman. If the target were a bossy, self-centered man then the attack would be of a different kind; because in that case the target would be merely a pig and not a woman who encroaches on man's preserve, thus exposing herself to the traditional artillery of patronizing belittlement that we find in the song.

Thanks to the recent influx of country LPs (anothwer Xmas gift, THANKS LAILA!) I also have Lynn Anderson singing "Stand by your man" very beautifully. But nothing matches the drama and passion of Tammy's original studio recording - plus she also wrote the song, with Billy Sherrill.


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