If you tune in to a country radio station today, there’s a good chance you won’t hear one song about cheating. A quick scan of the current top 20 songs in the format reveals not one of them tackles the topic, but back in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s, country music was all about some cheating songs. Drinking songs were also popular back then as they are now, but the drinking often led to cheating in those tunes.
Country star Moe Bandy launched his career in the early ‘70s with the song “I Just Started Hated Cheatin’ Songs Today.”
His duet with Janie Fricke, “It’s a Cheating Situation,” won ACM Song of the Year in 1979, and he scored his first solo No. 1 hit that same year with “I Cheated Me Right Out of You.”
So, why have cheating songs gone out of style with country fans? Moe has a few thoughts on the matter that he recently shared with “Rolling Stone.” He thinks people are “more soft” than they used to be.
Moe explains, “I don’t advocate cheating, of course, but it does go on. And that’s life. There have been so many great marriages that have been ruined because of the cheating. You gotta just sing about life, and that happens to be part of it.”
You shouldn’t assume all those cheating songs are autobiographical, though.
Moe adds, “People were telling me, ‘Golly, you’re doing a lot of cheating songs.’ I think they understood it was part of the business – like acting, doing the role.”
Drinking and party songs made up a big part of Moe’s song catalog, too, and unlike the cheating songs, he definitely lived out the drinking songs. Moe and his frequent singing partner, Joe Stampley, scored several good-time hits together. They even opened a honky-tonk in Texas called The Moe and Joe Club to capitalize off the “Urban Cowboy” country club craze.
Moe found he couldn’t keep that hard-drinking lifestyle up, and he got sober in 1983.
He says, “I was playing all these bars and joints, you know? And in Nashville, back then, it was who you drank with and who you hung out with that got you in the business a lot of the time. We all drank and partied, and it was part of it. I just went overboard, and it got to affecting my personal life.”
Moe’s string of hits ended with 1989’s “Too Old to Die Young,” and he moved out to Branson, Missouri, to perform in the town’s theaters. He still lives there today.
You can find out more about Moe’s fascinating life, including a partial list of all the guys he punched out during his touring days, in his new book, “Lucky Me.”