Agony Shorthand

Monday, May 19, 2003
KITTY WELLS, HORRIBLE SELL-OUT TO THE MAN….One last note on the “…And The Answer Is” 1950s country compilation (above). This well-told tale from Colin Escott’s liner notes deserves your attention:

“Academics, don’t be fooled into thinking that Kitty Wells' “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” is a statement of neo-feminist values. Not only was it written by a man, but it was written by a man sniffing out an easy buck. J.D. Miller later cut wonderful swamp blues records as well as the ultimate politically incorrect records (“Move Them Niggers North”, “Lookin’ For A Handout” etc.) for his own Rebel label. He realized that the melody of “Wild Side Of Life” was in the public domain, which meant that he wouldn’t have to surrender half the copyright to the writers of the original, as most writers of answer songs have to do. The melody had in fact come from England several hundred years earlier, although it’s doubtful Miller knew this. Inspiration struck him on Rte. 90 in Louisiana, and he pulled his car over and scribbled down the sequel. The then-unknown Kitty Wells cut it not because she empathized with the lyrics, but because she needed the session fee. The capriciousness of the music business is such that she still has to sing it twice a night…”