Friday, May 3, 2013

"Mama Loved The Ways Of The World"

I have an essay in the new The Normal School about country music and the surprising dearth of songs about strippers. What gives? I touch on a couple versions of the early-70s' camp classic "Daddy Was A Preacher But Mama Was A Go-Go Girl"—one of my all-time favorites—plus young Troy Hess's "Please Don't Go Topless, Mother" and Drive-By Truckers' "Go-Go Boots."

From the essay's opening:
In the canon of country music there are countless odes to broken hearts, depraved dalliances, and dark taverns, but precious few numbers about go-go dancers and the men who gawk at them. Consider the road toward or away from redemption walked by the man trailing hot pants and knee-high boots, his ageless conflicts between the secular and the sacred, his wallet and his God, his dancer and his wife. Nashville songwriter Harlan Howard defined a triumphant country record as “Three chords and the truth”; I’m surprised that more Music City songwriters don’t pen odes to the truths embodied in scantily dressed women who move in and out of bright lights. Bump and grind, high heels and a downcast gaze: a lurid imagination easily admits both the nude dancer and the man in the Nudie suit staring up at her. Yet the tradition of country music about go-go dancers is, well, skimpy.

Some music for your reading pleasure:

Jo Anna Neel, "Daddy Was A Preacher But Mama Was A Go-Go Girl"

Betty Jo Bangs, "Daddy Was A Preacher, Mama Was A Go-Go Girl"

Southern Culture On The Skids, "Daddy Was A Preacher But Mama Was A Go-Go Girl" 

Troy Hess, "Please Don't Go Topless, Mother"

Drive-By Truckers, "Go-Go Boots"



The Normal School currently publishes twice each year, Spring and Fall. Get a two-year subscription, or four issues for $20, here.


Debbie D said...

This is awesome, thanks!

Joe Bonomo said...

Thanks to you and everyone at 'FMU!

Testify said...

Mmm, both Betty Jo and Jo Anne Neel claim writing credits....

Joe Bonomo said...

Yep. I haven't been able to get to the bottom of it. Yet.