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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Kitty Wells: Proto Feminist

Posted by on Wed, Jan 8, 2014 at 10:04 AM

It was all the way back in 1952 when Kitty Wells recorded "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" a song written by Jay Miller in response to Hank Thompson's "The Wild Side of Life."

In "The Wild Side," Thompson laments:

The glamor of the gay night life has lured you/To the places where the wine and liquor flows/Where you wait to be anybody's baby/And forget the truest love you'll ever know.

What a wuss! Anyway, "Honky Tonk Angels" responds:

It wasn't God who made honky tonk angels/As you said in the words of your song/Too many times married men think they're still single/And that's caused many a good girl to go wrong.

Wells was reportedly reluctant to record the retort, but eventually agreed, if only in the interest of getting the studio payment of $125. A woman's gotta work, and $125 in 1952 equals about $1100 in today's money terms. "Honkey Tonk Angels" went on to outperform the song it addressed and springboard Wells into stardom. Years later she said of the song's success: "Women never had hit records in those days. Very few of them even recorded. I couldn't believe it happened."

Writes Allmusic.com's Stephen Thomas Erlewine:

[The song's] controversial pre-feminist lyrics, which blamed unfaithful men for creating unfaithful women, paved the way for Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette and established Wells as the first major female country star. Wells recorded a number of answer songs and remakes, but she has top-notch original material as well, including some of Harlan Howard's earliest hits.

I stumbled across this information in my research studies and just thought you might want to know.

Via: Allmusic.com, Wikipedia, and a book with actual pages made out of paper.

 

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