Saturday, February 9, 2013

Tammy Wynette -- "Stand By Your Man" (1968)

'Cause after all he's just a man 

As the title of this wildly popular little blog suggests -- and as its many fans know by now -- 2 or 3 lines usually begins with two, or maybe three lines from the featured song.

Today's an exception to that rule.  Today I'm quoting only one line from Tammy Wynette's 1968 hit, "Stand By Your Man."

Why is that?  I'm so glad you asked.

I'm highlighting that line and that line alone because it is the key to the meaning of this song -- which is perhaps the most misunderstood popular song of my lifetime.

I hate to pick a fight with the fairer sex (which is and always has been my personal numero uno favorite among all the sexes), but a lot of purportedly intelligent women got this song exactly backwards.  

And yes, I'm talking about Hillary Clinton in particular, who famously told a 60 Minutes interviewer in 1992 that "I'm not some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette."  (Of course, that's exactly what Mrs. Clinton did do a few years when we learned that her husband was regularly enjoying gobble-de-gee from Monica Lewinsky.)

Hillary Clinton sits by her man
Like so many other things, Hillary and those of her ilk have this song 100% wrong.  (Let the hate mail begin.)  

If anyone should be insulted by Ms. Wynette's song, it should be men.  That's because the essential message of this song is that men are undisciplined and selfish creatures -- on about the same level as infants and dogs when it comes to morality and controlling their bodily functions.

When a baby spews strained peas all over the kitchen, that doesn't surprise his mother -- after all, he's just a baby.  And when a dog poops on the rug, the lady of the house just cleans it up without getting angry at the family pet -- after all, he's just a dog.

The same can be said of her husband and all his misbehaving.  After all, he's just a man.   

What cheating husbands deserve to have happen is to have their asses kicked out of the house by their long-suffering wives.  But where would society be then?  

Men already watch too much football on TV, eat a lot of crap that will eventually kill them, and spend every available moment surfing the 'net for porn.

What do you think he's looking at?
(By the way, when someone watches porn, what is it that first captures their attention?  A 2007 study found that women on oral contraceptives focus on the actors' clothing, background imagery, and other contextual aspects of the porn -- not the genitals.  Women who were not on the pill looked first at genitals, then turned their attention to the female body -- but didn't look at anyone's face.  Men looked at genitals, but spent more time looking at female faces.  Go figure.)

Without the civilizing influence that comes from their living under the same roof as wives, men would do that bad stuff 24 HOURS A DAY and the world would go to hell in a handbasket.

Or at least we men like to think so.  In reality, women could do very well without men -- other than providing a needed Y chromosome on occasion, we are much more trouble than we are worth.  Ants and bees and other social insects have figured out how to minimize the role of males and still survive quite nicely, and it would serve us husbands right if wives did the same to us.  

Fortunately, most of them are like Tammy Wynette.  We treat them badly and are more trouble than we are worth, but they are as tolerant of us as they are of their children (who can also be a gigantic pain in the tuchus, but are inconveniently necessary for the survival of the species) -- they look the other way and turn the other cheek, all in the interest of promoting the greater good.

Tammy Wynette didn't necessarily walk the walk when it came to putting up with the men she was married to.  Fellow country music superstar George Jones was her third husband (she had five altogether), and she put up with his drinking and other nonsense for only six years before filing for divorce.  Standing by her man George was all well and good, but enough was enough.

"Stand By Your Man" was supposedly written by Wynette and her producer, Billy Sherrill, in fifteen minutes.  The song reached #1 on the country and western charts late in 1968, and also cracked the top 20 on the pop charts.  The country-music cable network, CMT, named it the greatest country music song of all time, and I can't disagree.

"Stand By Your Man" is featured in the opening credits of one if my all-time favorite movies, Five Easy Pieces (1970).  In that movie, Karen Black's character -- who has a room-temperature IQ but a heart of gold -- gets knocked up by boyfriend (Jack Nicholson), a child prodigy on the piano who had run away from his wealthy, cultured family to slum it as a roughneck in the California oil fields.

Ms. Black and Mr. Jack in Five Easy Pieces
Nicholson's character proves he is all man by cheating on and abusing her verbally and physically before he learns she is pregnant, cheating on and abusing her verbally and physically her after he learns she is pregnant, and eventually deserting her at a gas station out in the middle of nowhere.  

Five Easy Pieces was nominated for the Academy Award for best picture, and both Nicholson and Black were nominated for acting Oscars as well.  

Here's Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man":

You can use this link to buy the song from Amazon:

1 comment:

  1. Then there's the "cover" version by the Blues Brothers, at Bob's Country Bunker, where they feature "Both kinds of music, Country AND Western." To this day, when I visit the fencing section at Orchard Supply Hardware, and see the poultry netting, I think "Chicken wire?!?!" When my wife and I are leaving town in the motor home, one of us will say, "We have a full tank of gas, no cigarettes, it's the middle of the day, and one of us is wearing sun glasses." and the other will reply "Hit it!" Since some of our trips head east ("Eastbound and Down, loaded up and truckin'") on I40, we'll sometimes get off the Interstate to "Get our Kicks on Route 66". And when we head home, Al Jardine's words, "On my way to Sunny Cali-for-ni-ay" come to mind. Other times, we'll plan a visit to British Columbia and "Take Off--to the Great White North". Beauty, eh?