This Day in Death

7.16.12: Country Music Icon Kitty Wells – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 9:59 am July 18, 2012

Well, that’s a funny looking vacuum cleaner, baby.


Long before music went to hell and Gwen Stefani got away with murdering Adam Yauch, there were brassy dames like Kitty Wells. In the 1950s Wells became the first female country star following the success of her hit, “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.”

Wells laid a template for female singers in country music that started a shift in traditional male-female roles in rural America with “Honky Tonk Angels,” a strikingly assertive response to Hank Thompson’s masive 1952 hit “The Wild Side of Life,”…

“And it was totally written by a dude,” added the Mayor of Irony.

Alright, that’s not fair. Writing and performing your own hits wasn’t common for anyone at the time, so the most a performer could hope to do was to use their voice (literally and metaphorically) to help make a song relatable, which Wells more than managed to do. That’s the real reason she became known as the “Queen of Country,” and despite the fact that my classmates gave me that same nickname after my 8th grade talent show performance of “Stand By Your Man,” I don’t even think they knew who Kitty Wells was. So, really, that just made THEM look stupid, not me.

The stern resolution Wells gave voice to would be echoed in subsequent recordings by Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and still ripples today in assertive songs by Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood.

It’s a legacy that you can still feel in the air every time Taylor Swift awkwardly swings her strangely angular shoulders into the studio to record another 12 songs about getting to kiss a boy. I think country music might actually be evolving backwards. By 2015 I expect most country songs to be about how women should learn to move less while sleeping so as not to disturb their husbands while they’re trying to focus on banging underage Korean prostitutes.

Source: LA Times

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