In 1975, Loretta Lynn was one of the biggest stars in country music when she released a song that was quickly banned by many country radio stations. The song, “The Pill,” was an ode to birth control and sexual freedom that shocked the industry and many of the genre’s more conservative listeners with lyrics like:
It was this kind of sharp-witted and fearless storytelling that made Lynn, who died on Tuesday at the age of 90, a titan of country music and an inspiration to future generations of songwriters, especially female country stars. Despite the controversy surrounding its release, “The Pill,” would become Lynn’s highest-charting pop single, peaking at #70 on the Hot 100.
But as conservative social norms have ossified around the country music establishment, “The Pill” is still forsaken nearly fifty years since it was released. According to Luminate (formerly Nielsen Music), the song was played just once by a country radio station in the U.S. in 2022, even though it’s a classic of the genre. The song—and Lynn’s career as a provocative lyricist—serve as a reminder that the conservative values touted by the country music establishment don’t always match those of their artists or listeners.
“It begins with the mystical image of seven men facing the back of the stage, their bodies lit in silhouette in front of a painted gauze backdrop that sometimes looks like marble and at other times, clouds. The landscape is trippy — ominous and enigmatic — as the dancers, taking their time, slowly round over to pick up jackets placed at their feet. In a daze of slow motion, they put them on: one sleeve on, one hanging limply. Their arms rise and fall. Are they praying to an unseen god?”
Ms. Renkl is a contributing Opinion writer who covers flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South.
“NASHVILLE — I didn’t learn to love Loretta Lynn the way most children who grew up in Alabama in the 1960s and ’70s did. My parents never listened to Grand Ole Opry broadcasts on Saturday nights. They’d courted to big band music in their youth, so they kept the radio tuned to the oldies station.
It’s not like I didn’t know who Loretta Lynn was. I’d heard her songs on other people’s radios all my life but paid them no mind.
Then I went off to faraway Philadelphia for graduate school and started tuning the radio in my apartment to the country station, just to hear the sound of my own people. My roommate would walk in, hear country music and ask, “Why are you punishing me?” I wasn’t punishing her. I was falling in love. Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Rosanne Cash, The Judds — they all made me feel as if home wasn’t really a thousand miles away.”
Tom Paxton and John McCutcheon have written a heartfelt, stirring song, “Ukrainian Now,” that touches us all. Noel Paul Stookey edited this beautiful video that includes the voices of Peter Yarrow, Bill Miller, Tret Fure, Holly Near, Emma’s Revolution, Rebel Voices, Crys Matthews, Carrie Newcomer, Christine Lavin and Joe Jencks – whose playing of the electric bouzouki adds a haunting compliment to the piano of McCutcheon. The lyrics scroll across the screen and the sheet music is at the end. Please share far and wide. As Holly says at the video’s conclusion, “We are all Ukranian, now…”
OMG, an obscure, new contributing Opinion writer at the NYT, Annalee Newitz, was possibly in part responsible for the sacking of the US Capital, by angry, misogynistic, white supremacists. This is a story, that I assure you, everyone else has missed– missed that is, connecting the dots. This story might even get David Lindsay off the hook, for his sin, of allowing women to dance morris with men, in 1977!
By Annalee Newitz
Mx. Newitz is a contributing Opinion writer.
“Though it’s remarkable that the United States finally is about to have a female vice president, let’s stop calling it an unprecedented achievement. As some recent archaeological studies suggest, women have been leaders, warriors and hunters for thousands of years. This new scholarship is challenging long-held beliefs about so-called natural gender roles in ancient history, inviting us to reconsider how we think about women’s work today.
In November a group of anthropologists and other researchers published a paper in the academic journal Science Advances about the remains of a 9,000-year-old big-game hunter buried in the Andes. Like other hunters of the period, this person was buried with a specialized tool kit associated with stalking large game, including projectile points, scrapers for tanning hides and a tool that looked like a knife. There was nothing particularly unusual about the body — though the leg bones seemed a little slim for an adult male hunter. But when scientists analyzed the tooth enamel using a method borrowed from forensics that reveals whether a person carries the male or female version of a protein called amelogenin, the hunter turned out to be female.
With that information in hand, the researchers re-examined evidence from 107 other graves in the Americas from roughly the same period. They were startled to discover that out of 26 graves with hunter tools, 10 belonged to women. Bonnie Pitblado, an archaeologist at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, told Science magazine that the findings indicate that “women have always been able to hunt and have in fact hunted.” The new data calls into question an influential dogma in the field of archaeology. Nicknamed “man the hunter,” this is the notion that men and women in ancient societies had strictly defined roles: Men hunted, and women gathered. Now, this theory may be crumbling.”
“As we grow older we suffer a decline in mental and physical fitness, which can be made worse by conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. A new study, published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, shows that older people who routinely partake in physical exercise can reverse the signs of aging in the brain, and dancing has the most profound effect.
“Exercise has the beneficial effect of slowing down or even counteracting age-related decline in mental and physical capacity,” says Dr Kathrin Rehfeld, lead author of the study, based at the German center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Magdeburg, Germany. “In this study, we show that two different types of physical exercise (dancing and endurance training) both increase the area of the brain that declines with age. In comparison, it was only dancing that led to noticeable behavioral changes in terms of improved balance.”
Elderly volunteers, with an average age of 68, were recruited to the study and assigned either an eighteen-month weekly course of learning dance routines, or endurance and flexibility training. Both groups showed an increase in the hippocampus region of the brain. This is important because this area can be prone to age-related decline and is affected by diseases like Alzheimer’s. It also plays a key role in memory and learning, as well as keeping one’s balance.
While previous research has shown that physical exercise can combat age-related brain decline, it is not known if one type of exercise can be better than another. To assess this, the exercise routines given to the volunteers differed. The traditional fitness training program conducted mainly repetitive exercises, such as cycling or Nordic walking, but the dance group were challenged with something new each week.”
“When you think of a hula dancer, what do you picture? A female dancer, most likely young. Long, flowing hair, a warm, inviting smile and softly swaying hips. But when I started dancing hula, nearly 15 years ago, I was lacking in all of these characteristics, except perhaps the smile. As a skinny, 40-something white male with short hair, let’s just say I stood out from the crowd.
On our 10th-anniversary trip to Hawaii, my wife and I had watched some Polynesian dances at a luau. We enjoyed the Samoan dance, which was terrifying, and the poi ball dance, which was quite acrobatic. By comparison, hula looked easy. I thought, “I could do that.”
I had been a folk dancer ever since college, and at the time I was very committed to Morris dancing, a flamboyant, extroverted English dance. But a few years later I felt the need to try something new, and I signed up for an introductory hula class at a recreation center in Santa Cruz. When I showed up for the first lesson, the instructor took me aside. “I don’t think some of the other students would be comfortable with you in the class,” she told me. Oh, I thought. Perhaps men aren’t supposed to do hula. I apologized and departed.
About this, too, I was mistaken. Go to any hula competition and you will see breathtaking, athletic and expressive male dancers. Men have done hula since the beginning. Hula was simply a way of telling a story, and there’s no reason that men can’t do that. As a true folk tradition, hula embraces all ages and genders.”
David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | nyt comment:
What a beautiful story and video. Thank you. I’ve been performing and teaching morris dancing (and contra dancing) in New Haven since 1976, 44 years, and soon, I will be too old and worn out to do the leaps and capers of morris, or even the rigorous double step. We call it pagan aerobics. I’ve also been a serious student of Uechi Ryu Karate and Japanese Aikido. The karate was the first discipline I had to stop, partly because of age. As I soon transition to hiking, tai chi and bicycle, I will remember this wonderful article and dance performance, I will be forced to consider hula, and start moving my hips more regularly when I free dance in the kitchen.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth Century Vietnam” and blogs about the environment and the world at InconvenientNews.net.
“It was another typical Friday night in Brooklyn, as a middle-aged husband and wife, tired from the workweek, settled into their domestic routine.
“Mic check, one, two,” Roberto Williams said from his office, while Zaida Soler-Williams cleared a refrigerator shelf in the kitchen and arranged microphones on a coffee table in the living room. A fireplace with lapping flames played on an oversize screen while two disco balls slowly rotated.
Soon, their home would be full of strangers belting out “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Drops of Jupiter.”
As the proprietors and residents of Lion’s Roar Karaoke House, Mr. Williams, 52, and Mrs. Soler-Williams, 47, have hosted up to 30 singers and carousers at a time in their living room almost every weekend for four years.”
We saw Billy Elliot at the Goodspeed Opera house last night, and it is good news and bad news. The good news, is it a great production with amazing music and dance. An 8 out of 10, with a complicated dark story full of huge laughs. I laughed harder than at The Book of Mormon. The bad news, it closes after this Sunday, and there are limited seats left. I learned today at the Trinity Christmas Market that there is a movie version I was unaware of! The music is by Elton John, and story, is about a young boy’s courage to pursue ballet, wich is seen as totally gay, in a coal mining town of northern England as the town goes through the hell of the only mine closing.