January 29, 2012

"It's all Gladys' fault! She's sending me straight to hell!"

Millie Jackson sounded too much like Gladys Knight and needed to distinguish herself.
Jackson's first hit song, a 1973 cover of "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want to be Right," caused a furor. In the middle of the song, Jackson starts talking about being the "other woman" in a relationship, and loving it. The protests put her on the path to stardom, but they also created a niche Jackson has found hard to escape.
I heard the Luther Ingram version of this song the other day and — even without a spoken-word interval — I got the feeling this is a terribly dangerous song. It must have gotten an awful lot of people into trouble over the years.


ricpic said...

We must reserve all judgment till The Pips chime in.

yashu said...

I was going to adduce a country music precursor-- "The One You Slip Around With"-- but, reading the lyrics, realize it's actually from the wife's POV, a wife who wishes she was the mistress instead.

Anyway, here it is, sung by the great Skeeter Davis: "I'd rather be the one you slip around with…"

Carnifex said...

Our parochial culture at odds with our animal nature. A synergy that produces some of our finest art. Who hasn't looked at "The Birth of Venus", or "David", and thought in that little corner of your id, "Oohlala"

traditionalguy said...

Love is a many splendored thing...and then later after several destroyed lives, insanity episodes and early deaths, it loses something.

David said...

"It must have gotten an awful lot of people into trouble over the years."


Though most of them probably would have found the trouble through some other means.

As my whimsy leads me.. said...

I feel the same way about "Please Release Me." It presents adultery in a sympathetic--even positive--light.

"Mack the Knife" does the same for murder.


WV: torturr--What it's like for the cheated-on spouse to hear a Muzak version of that song in a public place.

Stephen A. Meigs said...

So long as procreation obliges child support from the father, we for most practical purposes live in a polygamous society. Marriage has nothing to do with caring in the present system. If a male has a mistress, he can be obliged to care for children by that mistress just as he is obliged to care for children by his wife or former wife. The main significance of polygamy proper is that the male divides his caring among many females, as also occurs with a male having a mistress to whom he gives child support. Marriage has become meaningless.

Rich elites tend to have more money than other people, but oftentimes they are not loveable--especially nowadays when the richest people tend to be financiers whose jobs mostly have negative utility to humanity at large. It serves their interest to make it difficult for well-loved people to reproduce more on account of that love, so long as males can buy mistresses. Elitist laws and scientific advances in DNA testing ensure that it is especially dangerous for a male to accept the free love of a mistress without risking inflicting harm upon his wife's children.

The sort of love that occurs between mates is mostly what causes higher moral traits to evolve in people, because it is only to the extent that such love is important that in the long run one can expect sensitivity to go hand-in-hand with moral virtue. (People who deceive in mating tend also to have had insensitive ancestors who were deceived.) People don't evolve to be good if loving people aren't sensitive enough to judge who is good and worthy of special love. A society that makes free love in a sexual context impossible ends up making all love imprudent. Probably the main moral advantage of Christian nations over Islamic nations is that Christian nations historically haven't tolerated polygamy (but begrudgingly accepted mistress relationships, especially in countries like France that historically only took marriage as proof of filiation). Now that the west essentially has become polygamous by making free love very difficult (but by allowing serial divorce), people in western society are likely to evolve to be more selfish toward each other, until marriage finally becomes meaningful.

Personally, not only do I think it wrong to force a male to care for a child by a female he isn't married to, I think it usually right for society to force (or at least strongly encourage) him to not care for such a child, especially if he is married, even if he wants to do so, just as prostitution should mostly be illegal. It's very wrong law that enjoins that which should be prohibited

el polacko said...

wrong..millie had several previous hits that charted as high or better than 'if loving you is wrong..' there was 'my man, a sweet man', 'it hurts so good','child of god' and some others, all released prior to her first concept album, 'caught up' from which 'loving you..' is taken. even with her successes and groundbreaking concept albums, her reputation for raunchy commentary was allowed to overshadow the fact that millie jackson is one of the premier female vocalists of all time. why isn't anybody recording her while we still have her?!

Widmerpool said...

"Caught Up" should be in every R&B fan's collection:

From allmusic:

"Taking the drama of a love triangle to logical extremes, Millie Jackson's Caught Up turns the pitfalls of tainted love into the basis for a concept album (the seeds for soul music's explicit treatment of the topic having been planted by James Carr's "Dark End of the Street"). While the "other woman's" view is taken up initially on cuts like the R&B hit "If Loving You Is Wrong I Don't Want to Be Right," the wife's plight is covered on the second half of the disc with revealing titles like "It's All Over but the Shouting." Jackson also delivers some of her patented racy commentary on the appropriately named "The Rap," while showing equal vigor in the album's wealth of fine vocal performances, including an impressive cover of Bobby Womack's "I'm Through Trying to Prove My Love to You." Caught Up's standout track, though, is the version of Bobby Goldsboro's "Summer" that closes the record. Seemingly out of sync with the overriding concept, the song touches upon a girl's loss of innocence to an older man. One soon realizes, though, that beyond sexual awakening, Jackson is really emphasizing the point of no return: After the epiphany, one is sent hurdling toward the power struggles and politics of adult relations, including, potentially, the moral crossroads of infidelity. Luckily, as soon as your mind overloads from pop semiotics, the in-the-pocket grooves supplied by the Muscle Shoals Swampers provides the needed salve. Jackson shows both brains and soul on this fine release, creating what might be the only concept album one can dance and drink to."

Calypso Facto said...

Listen to Cassandra Wilson's sultry version and see if you aren't tempted yourself....

wv: "imbad" ...heh.

J.R. said...

I have seen several polls that show that Americans regard adultery as the worst personal failing. I would love to see a good sociological explanation for this.

Biologically I can understand the male aversion; he doesn't wish to be raising another man's children. What is the female counter point? She wouldn't seem to have the same innate biological aversion to adultery.

Calypso Facto said...

What is the female counter point?

Potential abandonment? Loss of male-provided resources in part or whole, leading to degraded survival/success chances for progeny?