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Songs about young unwed mothers (Paxton/Prine/etc)

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ENDLESS HOLE
HELLO IN THERE
LET'S TALK DIRTY IN HAWAIIAN
PARADISE or Muhlenberg County
PLEASE DON'T BURY ME
YOUR FLAG DECAL WON'T GET YOU INTO HEAVEN ANYMORE


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GUEST 28 Oct 15 - 11:25 AM
GUEST 28 Oct 15 - 11:45 AM
Raggytash 28 Oct 15 - 11:51 AM
GUEST 28 Oct 15 - 11:52 AM
GUEST,I'm sorry but... 28 Oct 15 - 12:10 PM
Stewie 28 Oct 15 - 07:45 PM
Jason Xion Wang 29 Oct 15 - 12:32 PM
GUEST,Raggytash 30 Oct 15 - 07:24 AM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 30 Oct 15 - 11:05 AM
GUEST 31 Oct 15 - 08:42 AM
Joe Offer 22 May 20 - 11:21 PM
BobKnight 23 May 20 - 05:20 AM
Jim Dixon 29 Dec 21 - 01:07 PM
Levana Taylor 29 Dec 21 - 06:37 PM
Levana Taylor 29 Dec 21 - 06:47 PM
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Subject: Review: Unwed Mothers (Paxton/Prine)
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Oct 15 - 11:25 AM

I've always loved a John Prine song about little girls having babies, "Unwed Fathers", because it's so beautifully written. I only know two songs on the same topic, the other one being Tom Paxton's "Little Girl". I think Tom's song is too literal and not as good as the Prine song.

I have a friend named Boram who is a huge John Prine fan and a huge Iris DeMent fan too. I thought he would love "Unwed Fathers" as it was released as a Prine/DeMent duet. So I asked him about the song last month. To my surprise, he told me that he hates the song. He thinks the song is bad because it's so beautifully written and leisurely sung that it would actually diminish the severity of the topic itself. Here is what Boram said about the two songs:

When people listen to "Little Girl", they would realize how seriously terrible the situation is, and maybe do something about it; but when people listen to "Unwed Fathers", they would only think "hey, that's a helluva song", and not give a f- about the situation itself. If a teenage lover has listened to "Little Girl", she would never become an unwed mother - not so sure for "Unwed Fathers". It lacks the deep thinking. What we really need is to prevent this from happening, and Paxton's battery of questions would absolutely do better than Prine's beautiful storytelling.

I find his statement pretty convincing. What do you think?

S.


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Subject: Lyr Add: UNWED FATHERS (John Prine)
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Oct 15 - 11:45 AM

UNWED FATHERS
Written by John Prine & Bobby Braddock
As recorded by John Prine on "Aimless Love" 1984.

1. In an Appalachian Greyhound station,
She sits there waitin' in a family way.
"Goodbye, brother; tell Mom I love her.
Tell all the others I'll write someday."

CHORUS: From a teenage lover to an unwed mother,
Kept undercover, like some bad dream.
While unwed fathers they can't be bothered.
They run like water through a mountain stream.

2. In a cold and gray town, a nurse says, "Lay down,
This ain't no playground; this ain't home."
Someone's children out having children
In a gray stone building, all alone. CHORUS

3. Somewhere else bound, Smokey Mountain Greyhound,
She bows her head down, hummin' lullabies.
"Your daddy never meant to hurt you ever.
He just don't live here, but you've got his eyes." CHORUS


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Subject: RE: Review: Unwed Mothers (Paxton/Prine)
From: Raggytash
Date: 28 Oct 15 - 11:51 AM

I've thought that this song was so poignant from the first time I heard it. It told the story so beautifully. I haven't heard the Tom Paxton song so tonight I'll look it up and come back to you.


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Subject: Lyr Add: LITTLE GIRL (Tom Paxton)
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Oct 15 - 11:52 AM

LITTLE GIRL
Written by Tom Paxton
As recorded by Carolyn Hester on her album “A Tom Paxton Tribute” (1999)

CHORUS: Little girl, what are you doin’ with a child of your own?
Little girl, what are you doin’ in this city all alone?
If you haven't got the money, and I'm bettin’ that you don't,
You will need the help of strangers, and I'm betting that they won't.
Little girl, what are you doin’ with a child of your own?

1. Did you lie awake and listen to the rhythm of your heart?
Did it promise you another life someday?
Was the world around you pullin’ you an’ tearin’ you apart
Till you knew that you just had to get away? CHORUS

2. Did your mama ever tell you how you came to be her child;
How your daddy didn’t stay to see you born?
Now she wonders where you run to, never fears her runnin’ wild.
Now her baby's got a baby of her own. INSTRUMENTAL BREAK

3. Did you dream about your baby while you walked the halls at school?
Did you dream about how perfect she would be?
Now she cries all night from hunger, and you’re feelin’ like a fool,
And you know you're feelin’ anything but free. CHORUS

Hey, little girl, hey, little girl, you’re on your own.

[This version was transcribed after failing to find any online recording by Paxton himself, either on Spotify or YouTube. According to various discographies, Paxton's recording is on "Live for the Record" (1996).]


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Subject: RE: Review: Unwed Mothers (Paxton/Prine)
From: GUEST,I'm sorry but...
Date: 28 Oct 15 - 12:10 PM

Both songs will do absolutely nothing to the situation.

If Bob Dylan or Lady Gaga or Tailor Swift sang the Paxton song, it would probably do something, but I'm betting that they won't. Tom Paxton's isn't "big" enough to influence.

John Prine's song is poignant, but it's so poignant that some listeners won't realize it's poignant. And that's the problem. It's helluva song.

By the way, please be sure to tick the "preview" box before posting song lyrics. Now it looks horrible.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unwed Mothers (Paxton/Prine)
From: Stewie
Date: 28 Oct 15 - 07:45 PM

There is also this one from Jason isbell, a first-rate wordsmith:

Children of Children.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unwed Mothers (Paxton/Prine)
From: Jason Xion Wang
Date: 29 Oct 15 - 12:32 PM

Both John Prine and Tom Paxton are the kind of songwriters who could dig unique topics for songs that few other songwriters would touch, so it's not very surprising that they would choose a same topic. Another topic they've both written a song on is strip mining - see "Paradise" and "There Goes the Mountain". I really can't tell which one is better because they are both brilliant songs


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Subject: RE: Review: Unwed Mothers (Paxton/Prine)
From: GUEST,Raggytash
Date: 30 Oct 15 - 07:24 AM

I cannot find "Little Girl" by Tom Paxton on YouTube. To me the lyrics themselves are not as powerful as Unwed Fathers and the images are not as stark but it's difficult to make a full assessment without hearing it.


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Subject: RE: Review: Unwed Mothers (Paxton/Prine)
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 30 Oct 15 - 11:05 AM

I always thought that This one , by John Sebastian would have gotten more attention...he even did it at Woodstock, but nobody seemed to have 'got it'.

GfS


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Subject: RE: Review: Unwed Mothers (Paxton/Prine)
From: GUEST
Date: 31 Oct 15 - 08:42 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Review: Unwed Mothers (Paxton/Prine)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 May 20 - 11:21 PM

thread needs some cleanup


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Subject: RE: Review: Unwed Mothers (Paxton/Prine)
From: BobKnight
Date: 23 May 20 - 05:20 AM

Gail Davis was the first singer I heard doing "Unwed Fathers." She does a great job of it.


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Subject: Lyr Add: CHILDREN OF CHILDREN (Jason Isbell)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 29 Dec 21 - 01:07 PM

This was mentioned by Stewie back when this thread was new:


CHILDREN OF CHILDREN
Written by Jason Isbell
As recorded by Jason Isbell on “Something More Than Free” (2015)

1. Pictures of the farm before us:
Old men in a gospel chorus,
Sepia and saddle horses easy on the reins,
Eighty-one, a motor inn,
Your mama's seventeen again.
She's squintin’ at the dusty wind, the anger of the plains.

2. You and I were almost nothin’.
Pray to God that God was bluffin’.
Seventeen ain't old enough to reason with the pain.
And how could we expect the two
To stay in love when neither knew
The meaning of the difference between sacred and profane?

CHORUS: I was ridin’ on my mother's hip; she was shorter than the corn,
All the years I took from her just by bein’ born.

3. I didn't mean to break the cycle.
At seventeen I went by Michael.
No one ever called by my own name anyway.
Five full generations,
Living all these expectations,
Giving way to one, late to have a baby on the way.

CHORUS: You were ridin’ on your mother's hip; she was shorter than the corn,
All the years you took from her just by bein’ born.


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Subject: RE: Songs about young unwed mothers (Paxton/Prine/etc)
From: Levana Taylor
Date: 29 Dec 21 - 06:37 PM

There is also "Down from Dover" by Dolly Parton. Didn't get much publicity when first recorded in 1970, considered too shocking for pop. Broke the heart of many a teen who listened to the album.

I'm not a fan of trying to "scare teens straight," it's rarely effective. "Down from Dover" is simply empathetic. It's important to break down the silence and secret stigma described in the song. Would girls be more fortified against manipulation like that of the guy who said he needed the narrator if compelling stories like this were combined with frank discussions of what emotional manipulation is?


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Subject: RE: Songs about young unwed mothers (Paxton/Prine/etc)
From: Levana Taylor
Date: 29 Dec 21 - 06:47 PM

NB I am truly showing my age by citing 50-year-old popular music. Nothing in this thread has much connection to the interests of the vast majority of modern teenagers.


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