Monday, August 8, 2011

Eddy Arnold: Banned in Austin

Eddy Arnold - "A Man's Kind of Woman" (1970, Billboard country #28)
Waylon Jennings - "The Taker" (1970, Billboard #94)
Roy Clark - "I Never Picked Cotton" (1970, Billboard #122)
Dean Michaels - "Hey Joe" (did not chart)

Two words characterized the country music industry of the early '70s: experimentation and fear. Country radio formats and the records they featured were going through an era of unprecedented change, and a definite "hell in a hand basket" feeling, shared by a good many in the country establishment, expressed itself a number of ways. A 1970 Billboard article that recently caught my eye is a good example of this, explaining how Austin country station KVET had blacklisted recent records by artists such as future outlaw Waylon Jennings (no big surprise) and "Nashville sound" pioneer Eddy Arnold (very big surprise).

A little digging has revealed that the Jennings song in question was "The Taker," which was written by Shel Silverstein and contained the lines "he'll do her the way that I'd never, damned if he won't do her wrong" and "he'll take her to places and make her fly higher than she's ever dared to." (This ended up being one of Waylon's earlier monsters, hitting #5 on the country chart and cracking the Hot 100 at #94). As for Eddy Arnold, the song in question was his "A Man's Kind of Woman" (#28, country) in which he says "I can cheat the world with a losing hand, walk away and not give a damn except for you."

Other country singles listed as being in trouble at KVET and at country stations elsewhere included Dean Michaels's non-charting "Hey Joe" (from the Joe soundtrack, with bleeped out expletives and was not a version of the Leaves/Hendrix "Hey Joe") and Roy Clark's "I Never Picked Cotton" (like "The Taker," a #5 country hit), which depicts voluntary manslaughter and features the line "there ain't a hell of a lot that I can look back on with pride."

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