Driving douchy 1960s country songs out of my head with Anne Murray and Aretha Franklin

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.

6 Responses to “Driving douchy 1960s country songs out of my head with Anne Murray and Aretha Franklin”

  1. Practical Parsimony Says:

    Little Green Apples–the middle chorus or verse and about Dr. Seuss was so catchy that I never even heard the rest. Wow!

    Gentle on My Mind was so offensive but so singable. A fifteen-year-old found sheet music for this at my house, read it, and asked what on earth it meant. I explained in two sentences. His mother was aghast I would say something like that to her child, that he was so innocent. ???

    Even RESPECT only asks for a little respect. Although a powerful song, why not get complete respect?

    Could I Have This Dance is as good as a song comes!

    How about In the Summertime (1970) by Mungo Jerry? No one recognizes this title and artist, it seems. But, when I find and play the song, lots of people do remember the tune and not lyrics. The lyrics make me sick.

    “If her Daddy’s rich, take her out for a meal. If her Daddy is poor just do what you will.”

    It’s such a catchy reggae tune, so it’s too bad about the lyrics. I think this is the most offensive song I have ever heard. Lyrics were rewritten for movie Flipper.


    Men and women of the sixties were socialized with horrible songs.

  2. Nanani Says:

    I don’t know the songs (except Aretha Franklin) but the sentiments in the post are spot-on.
    Smashing the patriarchy is better for music, too.

  3. chacha1 Says:

    There is a lot of sexist crap in the annals of pop music, as everywhere else. There are some Frank Sinatra recordings I can’t even enjoy anymore because once I really heard the lyrics it was all over. Of course Sinatra was a poster boy for sexism, so.

  4. Dame Eleanor Hull Says:

    Your lady done bought some shoes
    And she’s stepping out on the town.
    Your lady took herself in hand
    And she’s spreading herself around.

    Time to change decades and genres if you ask me.

  5. Donna Freedman Says:

    I hated those two songs! Worse still: “She’s Having My Baby.” Gaaaahhhhh…..!

    Anybody ever listen to a women’s group called The Deadly Nightshade, back in the 1970s? I liked the song called “Shuffle” because of its last verse:

    Susie’s got some diamond rings and Susie’s got some furs
    Susie rides in half a dozen cars but none of them is hers.
    Now I ain’t got no caviar and I ain’t got much wine
    All I’ve got’s my body and soul — but baby, all of that is mine.

    Even as a 16-year-old pummeled by patriarchy* I knew that was a better deal than being somebody’s plaything.

    And then there’s “Dance, Mr. Big” — their song about a woman business owner interviewing her former boss for a job:

    *When I was 16 my parents split up and because I was the only female left in the household, it fell to me to do ALL the cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping and food preservation. Nobody ever questioned that. Sigh.

  6. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    I totally meant to play “Could I have this dance” for our wedding, decided when I first heard it and hadn’t met PiC yet, but forgot to. That’s the story of much of our wedding planning, glad that’s not representative of our marriage!

    I skip around for the less to non-douchey country because yes, so much is bad and patriarchal. We also enjoy much 80s pop and power ballads but so many of those lyrics are creepy too. Stalking and disregarding a woman’s wishes were big in the 80s :/

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