Sign up for newsletter
 

You have thought of cheating, haven't you?

Country Musings by Robert Loy, July 2001

You have thought of cheating, haven't you?

Here's a line from one of the Thin Man movies (don't remember which one, doesn't matter; they're all excellent) starring William Powell and my distant cousin Myrna Loy.

Nick: (Just waking and stumbling around hungoveredly): Get me a drink, darling.
Nora: But you haven't even had breakfast yet.
Nick: It's too early for breakfast, get me a drink.
And here is an oft-repeated line from the classic TV show The Honeymooners: "One of these days, Alice. Pow! Right in the kisser!"

Today, despite the cries from advocates of censorship and other "family-values" about declining morality in entertainment, you could not do either of these scenes. You could make a movie where Nick and Nora are shot to bloody pieces in slow-motion, but you couldn't show them drinking whiskey for breakfast (and before long you won't be able to make a movie where the hero smokes cigarettes). You could show Jackie Gleason's naked butt on TV, but you couldn't have him threaten to strike his wife, not on a comedy show.

Country music has lost a lot of its freedom too. I was going through some country LPs of the 1970's recently, and it started me thinking. Bobby Bare put out an album called "Drunk and Crazy." Moe Bandy did one entitled "Here I Am, I'm Drunk Again." Both Bare and Bandy were popular mainstream artists of the time. Can you imagine Garth Brooks putting out a CD called "Here I Am, I'm Drunk Again." Unh-uh, couldn't happen.

(Matter of fact, the only time you can mention alcohol in country music these days is when you're in a 12-step program to get off the stuff la Collin Raye's "Little Rock.")

And it stands to reason if everybody's hopping on the water wagon, nobody's cheating on their mates. Bill Anderson did one of his talk-songs back in the '70's where a woman asks Whisperin' Bill if he's married, and he says yes. Then she says "But. . . you have thought of cheating, haven't you?"

It's a safe bet you'll never hear anybody ask you that question on the radio ever again. And it's likewise certain we're not going to get any great new cheating songs like "Liars One, Believers Zero" or hedonistic anthems like "It's My Life (Throw it Away if I Want to)"? (Both from Bill Anderson, by the way.)

Doesn't that make you just a little sad?