The lady has started a riot, disturbin’ the suburban routine

25Mar09

The Ames Brothers – “The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane” (1954)

I don’t usually write about music on this blog because, frankly, I suck at it, but I heard a song recently that’s got my inner feminist itchin’ to rant.

The song, called “The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane,” was written in the 1950s and most famously performed by The Ames Brothers and Archie Bleyer. Aurally, I like the song very much because of its tight vocal harmonies and bouncy boom bada booms, which give it a wonderfully nostalgic sound. However, the lyrics prove problematic for me despite the tune being something of a novelty song.

The lyrics suggest the sexual promiscuity of the “naughty lady” as, “She throws those ‘come hither’ glances at every Tom, Dick and Joe,” and, “When offered some liquid refreshment, the lady never, never says, ‘No.'” But despite these bad behaviors, the song assures the listener that, “She just needs someone to change her and she’ll be nice as can be.” Obviously, the lyrics imply that this “naughty lady” is a grown woman who flirts and drinks and sleeps around, but the last line of the song reveals her to be a nine-day-old infant.

Ha ha, right? It’s cute. But I don’t think that a song like this one would ever be written about a male child, and even if one were, I think it would be very different. So I can’t help but think of this song as evidence of how early society starts policing female sexuality.

There’s also a bit of eroticization of children that disturbs me. Four men calling a baby “delectable”? Yeesh.

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