Thursday, June 16, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge - Day 15

Day 15 - A Story Song

"No Man's Land" - Tanya Tucker, Would You Lay With Me (In a Field of Stone) (1974)

The best story songs come from country music, hands down. And in the early 70's, the husky voiced teen sensation Tanya Tucker was the queen of story songs. Her renditions of "Delta Dawn" and "What's Your Mama's Name Child?" propelled her to fame. But instead of discussing those hits, I'm going to pick an underrated and forgotten album track.

"No Man's Land" is the story of Molly Marlowe, the beauty of Brushcreek, Georgia. A fool named Barney Dawson desires her and so he rapes her after church one Sunday. Thusly, her ability to love and trust men is taken from her and she is dubbed "No Man's Land" by the townspeople. Later on, Molly becomes a nurse and must treat Barney Dawson in prison. But instead of curing him, she kills him and sends him to Hell.

What makes a good story song? I say details, details that paint a specific picture. "No Man's Land" is a surprisingly graphic song. Of course, Tanya doesn't come right out and say "he raped her" but she does sing "took her body with his rough, hard hands and walked off laughing as she lay there crying". It paints a grotesque, unpleasant picture, don't it?

Naturally, "No Man's Land" remained under the radar. Songs about rape lack a certain je nes se qua. However, we are talking about country music and Kenny Roger's "Coward of the County" went Number 1, so what do I know?

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