Friday, June 24, 2011

Misogyny in Music

Three recent music posts have had a common theme, the same theme as many of our other news-related posts, misogyny.

I'm opposed to censorship in music, to Parental Advisory labels and all that nonsense, but I'm also opposed to passively receiving the messages in these songs with a type of apathetic acceptance. I find that some rap music, with its in-your-face message of violence, can be easily recognized for what it is and enjoyed without subconsciously taking the lyrics to heart. The suggestion that music like that is responsible for violence is absurd.

Main stream and classic rock and roll, however, with its incredibly pervasive and pernicious message about women, goes largely unnoticed and accepted. Take this one for example. Neil Young is actually singing about having shot his woman for cheating on him. Everyone knows the Jimi Hendrix version of the ballad Hey Joe. Same message there, shoot the offending woman. But, did you realize that even The Beatles sang about this?

One interesting difference is the U.K. artists refer to a generic killing while their North American counterparts specify doing it with a gun.

It's interesting that male-dominated rock and roll music is shot through with this ugly message. More interesting still is that it is largely unrecognized for what it is.  It's no wonder that domestic violence is as widespread as it is. And like all types of violence, gun availability makes it worse.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.


  1. Even Johnny Cash.

    Example: Cocaine Blues:
    Early one mornin' while makin' the rounds
    I took a shot of cocaine and I shot my woman down
    I went right home and I went to bed
    I stuck that lovin' 44 beneath my head

    Got up next mornin' and I grabbed that gun
    Took a shot of cocaine and away I run
    Made a good run but I run too slow
    They overtook me down in Juarez, Mexico

    Late in the hot joints takin' the pill
    In walked the sheriff from Jericho Hill
    He said, "Willy Lee your name is not Jack Brown
    You're the dirty hack that shot your woman down"

    Said, "Yes, oh yes, my name is Willy Lee
    [| From: |]
    If you've got a warrant just read it to me
    Shot her down because she made me slow
    I thought I was her daddy but she had five more"

    In about five minutes in walked a man
    Holding the verdict in his right hand
    The verdict read in the first degree
    I hollered, "Lordy, Lordy have mercy on me"

    The judge he smiled as he picked up his pen
    99 years in the Folsom pen
    99 years underneath that ground
    I can't forget the day I shot that bad bitch down

    Come on you gotta' listen to unto me
    Lay off that whiskey, let that cocaine be

  2. i'm a nobody.

    that murdering your woman thing in song originates, to the best of my knowledge, in southern blues around the mid-20's. which is to say that misogyny was prominent in rock's ancestry.

    and isn't the whole idea that it's a hugely significant part of our collective ancestry?

  3. and isn't the whole idea that it's a hugely significant part of our collective ancestry?

    I guess if you still think that Led Zeppelin I is the greatest album of all time. Maybe it's more like something that the male collective can renounce. Whatever. Suzy Q is part of my ancestry.

  4. I like Suzie Q and Led Zeppelin I. Like most people though, I couldn't tell you which songs have misogynynistic message and which don't.

  5. Zeppelin used the powerful imagery of a woman abusing her man as the key to a sword-edged, bluesy, balls out rock and roll. It was extremely appealing and reaffirming to young, lusty bucks. Led Zeppelin I and III delved heavily into the world of misogyny. I guess the idea of shooting your woman does come from the blues tradition as A. suggests.

    From "Hat's Off the Roy Harper"

    Gave my baby a twenty dollar bill.
    If that don't get her,
    I’m sure my shot gun will.

    And what hungry wolf from the psychedelic era could forget "The Hunter?"

    Ain't no use to run;
    Ain't no use to hide;
    'Cause I've got you in the sights of my gun.

    I think I prefer "Dazed and Confused." Although a damning condemnation of mistreatment, the climax occurs as:

    Sweet little darlin';
    I want you again!