Have you ever really listened to the lyrics of Little Green Apples or Gentle on my Mind? They’re both about patriarchal douches asserting their male privilege on devoted wimmenfolk. The Apples guy does these creepy power tricks to prove his wife’s devotion, calling her up specifically when he knows she’s busy because he loves seeing her drop everything for him and then he’s always late on purpose because he likes the proof that he can force her devotion. He brags about how she loves him. He doesn’t say anything about loving her and definitely doesn’t respect her time. But that’s the ideal of womanhood– self-sacrificing. What more could she want than to bear his children and take care of him with selfless devotion? Similarly the Gentle on my Mind dude is all, I travel a lot and also cheat on you with young women who don’t know they’re being cheated on, but it’s ok because I always come back to you so you’re devoted to me. Both these dudes make a big deal about how selfless unquestioning devotion eases their minds. Of course, because they’re douches.
Unfortunately Little Green Apples has a really catchy chorus, and Gentle on my Mind shares enough chords with it that they both get stuck in my head. And not even Yellow Submarine can drive them out because it’s not similar enough. The 1960s sucked really hard for women. It was the backlash before the storm that would be the 1970s. And when you’ve got 1960s country stuck in your head, sometimes the best thing to drive it out is 1970s country.
We played Could I Have this Dance by Anne Murray at our wedding. Very sweet song about joint love and devotion. Catchy tune. A reasonably good earworm. And when you put it into youtube to listen to it, the next song that comes up is one that is strikingly similar to the sentiments behind Little Green Apples and Gentle on my Mind, but absent the douchiness, “You Needed Me,” which is an anthem to being loved… and loving in return.
you put me high upon a pedestal
so high I could almost see eternity
you needed me
I needed you
and you were there
and I’ll never leave
why should I leave I’d be a fool
And isn’t that a better kind of love? One where both partners love and respect each other? Not selfless devotion on one side and mildly appreciative power on the other. And isn’t it better to love someone who loves you in return? To love a person or a goddess and know your sentiments are returned in full? Leave loyal devotion to your pets, not your partner. And that’s the power of feminism– elevating love to love between consenting adults, not a jerk and the two-dimensional pet he doesn’t even respect.