The other day I was driving and listening to “Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine” and marvelling at Country Joe McDonald‘s smooth twangy croon and Barry Melton‘s super-clean, sharp-as-a-blade guitar and that wonderful boppin’ organ, etc. “And finally blow out my brains…”
Bad relationship songs have cut both ways for a long time in the pop realm. Irritating or bad-vibe girlfriend songs by male blues singers and macho rock groups surged in the ’50s, ’60s and early ’70s, but have pretty much disappeared this century. (Or am I not paying attention?)
Toxic-male-relationship songs by prominent female singers happened from time to time in the ’60s (Linda Ronstadt‘s “You’re No Good”, Lesley Gore‘s “You Don’t Own Me”) but seem to be pretty much the only game in town today (Rhianna‘s “Love on the Brain“, JoJo‘s “Mad Love“, Lauryn Hill‘s “Ex-Factor“).
Are bad-girlfriend songs even allowed these days? I can’t think of any but what do I know?
Classic-era bad girlfriend (or irksome women) songs: “You Talk Too Much” (Joe Jones, ’60), “Black Hearted Woman”, “Every Hungry Woman (The Allman Brothers, ’70), “I Hear You Knockin’” (Smiley Lewis, ’55), “Stupid Girl,” “Under My Thumb” (Rolling Stones, ’65), “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better” (The Byrds, ’65), “96 Tears” (Question Mark & The Mysterians), “I Can See For Miles” (The Who, ’67), etc.
I don’t have the time or energy to explain what I’m on about. I’m not even sure if I know myself. This is basically a Chris Willman piece that I accidentally stepped into out of enthusiasm for Country Joe and “Martha Lorraine.”