Sometimes when you miss a deadline, you have to crunch your assignments together. You might call it cheating; but the results can be interesting. Returning readers know that my regular Tuesday Trivia posting is missing in action. However, it's already Saturday night here, so my Friday Song write-up is also late. I had to ask myself: should I trivialize the Friday Song? Or, should I set the trivia to music? Easy choice, obviously. Let's talk about more than one song, then. I'm sure that will turn out trivially. (Is that even a word? Trivially? I'm not sure.)
Country music has taken an interesting turn in the last few weeks. Well, maybe it's been longer than that. As usual, we have to point first blame in the direction of my favorite groundbreaker, Gretchen Wilson. You know Gretchen; she's the one who made it cool to be trailer-trash. Rich trailer trash, now. She's also the same artist who followed up Redneck Woman with When I Think About Cheatin'. The second song was actually about deciding against cheating, but Gretchen started something none-the-less. There was a time when every country singer sang about cheating, but things got all military and patriotic there for a while and pushed the whole subject aside. Not for long, though. A whole slew of artists have returned to the fold; and they're talkin' about cheatin' again.
Time was, all the cheating songs dwelled on sadness and broken hearts. Times have changed. The focus has shifted to what I'll call "she'll be just fine without that jerk" compositions. I've even written here in the past about one or two of these. George Straight's brilliant She Let Herself Go (currently number 3 on the charts) comes to mind. Canada's sweetheart, Terri Clark, was Mad for Awhile; but things got worse from there. Clark's latest release tells the story of a young mom who's bum of a partner walks away. She Didn't Have Time, with the help of a well-crafted video, shows us good things happen to she who waits. This song's single mom struggles to raise her very young daughter alone, through ballet class and tee-ball, while working full-time. Only a flat tire and luck finally hooks mom up with a studly guy to brighten her world. I wasn't worried, though; I knew the mom would triumph in the end.
That's the new trend, and it's definitely a positive one. For years we heard about scummy men who left their women lost and alone. We even heard about heartless women who left their men behind. (The guys always wanted the walk-away girls to come back. The reverse was rarely true.) That just ain't the way things work no more! Now the lovely songstress, Sara Evans, has joined the party. Evans, happily married and mother of three, has released a powerful single called (surprise!) Cheatin'. The refrain says it all: "You should have thought about that, when you were Cheatin'."
Her companion video clarifies any misconceptions we might have had about the dirtbag ex-husband described in the lyrics. He's a dirtbag, and he got what he deserved! More to the point, story-wise, the woman got the best end of the deal. She's driving his slick pick-up truck, living in his house, and generally lovin' life. He, meanwhile, is driving a clunker, living in a rented trailer, and eating pork and beans. Dirtbag. You have to see the video to enjoy this guy-basher. I'm a guy; and I'm man enough to enjoy it, I think.
Two other artists' current releases deserve mention here, as well. Miranda Lambert's hot new Kerosene reveals a lot of bitterness, but hints at better days ahead. (This one will probably get more discussion as a full-fledged Friday Song.) Nashville newcomer, Danielle Peck, offers up (Jesus Loves You) I Don't. You don't have to be a musical genius to figure out the message in that one. I Don't doesn't clearly say the girl gets the best of the break-up; but she certainly knows her mind. And she's not taking his calls, either, I'll bet!
You might think I'm being sarcastic here, but I assure I'm not. Lots of guys really are scumbags, and lots of women end up as single moms. That's reality, every day of the week. It's not funny, and there's enough pain to go around for everyone involved. (Yeah, I'm speaking from experience here.) The guys have had their say in the past, over and over again. So I'm happy to see the perspective shift to "her side." I think it's best for all concerned when things work out well for women who've suffered bad relationships. When there are kids involved, especially little kids, it becomes even more important. And, finally, like anything else involving important life issues, it's good to talk about it. That's one of the beautiful things about popular music: we listen, we consider, and then we talk about the message. That's a win-win, in my book.
[Artists' links, and some source material, courtesy of CMT.com.]
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