The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

6 June 2003

He's just a man

The Country Music Television list of 100 Greatest Songs didn't contain too many surprises, though the presence of Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man" at the top will undoubtedly reinforce the notion that this 1968 Billy Sherrill production is the ultimate antifeminist anthem.

Which, if you ask me, it isn't. The words are submissive, maybe, but there's always been a streak of quiet acceptance running through country music — Nashville, despite friends in low places, is a very conservative place and boats are not rocked unnecessarily — and while the words (by Sherrill and Wynette) never question, never complain, Tammy's voice, to me anyway, sounds more sorrowful than resolute: she'll never leave him because, well, that's something you just don't do.

And yes, I know "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" came out the same year. But there's a reason they spell it out in front of the kid.

Posted at 10:11 AM to Tongue and Groove


One small quibble: Tammy Wynette may have sung the penultimate version, but, and I could be wrong, this is the final validation of the genius of David Allan Coe.

Posted by: Chris at 1:32 PM on 6 June 2003

Coe did wondrous things with this song, yes. So did Lyle Lovett, whose version closes out Neil Jordan's film The Crying Game. (If this song were just a tract, nobody would have bothered to remake it.)

Posted by: CGHill at 2:12 PM on 6 June 2003

I think Coe wrote it . . . which would be the final irony in a career spent as the outlaw of Country Music.

Posted by: Chris at 4:21 PM on 6 June 2003

The record label says otherwise, at least on Tammy's.

Posted by: CGHill at 4:47 PM on 6 June 2003

"We have both kinds of music here...country AND western!"

- The Blues Brothers

Posted by: David at 5:11 PM on 6 June 2003

I want to live where that radio station is.

Posted by: McGehee at 7:26 AM on 7 June 2003

The soon-to-be-defunct KJON in Anadarko, Oklahoma comes pretty close to that; there's a dollop of Southern gospel, but by and large, it's classic C&W interspersed with Gene Autry-style Lone Prairie stuff.

Posted by: CGHill at 7:53 AM on 7 June 2003

Lets see now...Tammy has "stood by" how many men? Five? Six?

Posted by: Lynn S at 8:08 AM on 7 June 2003

Four, I think.

Posted by: CGHill at 2:29 PM on 7 June 2003