A new country singer-songwriter makes a strong statement with this song MitchellTenpennyVEVO/YouTube screenshot
MitchellTenpennyVEVO/YouTube screenshot

Longtime country music fans might remember that back in 1978 when the Charlie Daniels Band released “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” radio stations censored the word “bitch” in the line, “I done told told you once, you son of a bitch, I’m the best that’s ever been.” A second version of the song was made available that changed the potentially offensive lyric to “son of a gun,” but some stations just chose to use the silent bleep as a censor.

Then in 2009, Zac Brown Band released the fan favorite “Toes.” While some radio stations chose to play the unedited version that declared, “I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand,” most opted to play the bleeped version that made the word “ass” silent or another that proclaimed “toes in the water, toes in the sand.”

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If bleeping or silent censor is the best way for the family-friendly format to deal with questionable language, there’s a strong possibility that newcomer Mitchell Tenpenny’s new song, “Bitches,” would air as more than three minutes of mostly silence.

Now, at its core, the song is about a man who has broken up with a woman who seems to have a less than angelic reputation. Lines like: “Hold up, I still believe in love but not the kind you’re making with every guy in this club” and “No one to blame but myself. I should’ve known you were with someone else when I watched you give that ‘just a friend’ a hug” make it clear that this femme fatale is up to no good, so it’s pretty understandable that no one would put up with that kind of behavior in a relationship, right?

And heck, country music has a longstanding relationship with songs about cheating and lying, so the subject matter is right in line with songs like Hank Williams’ “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” Loretta Lynn’s “You Ain’t Woman Enough to Take My Man,” Patty Loveless’ “Blame It On Your Heart” and Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats.”

But Mitchell takes a different turn with his word choices. In addition to the repeated use of the word “bitches,” the singer-songwriter also throws in a couple of other questionable choices.

“Bitches” was actually released by Mitchell last May, but has gone on to garner more attention since the Nashville native became the flagship artist for Sony’s Riser House/Columbia record label imprint. Prior to that, Mitchell has been making a name for himself with his gritty, bluesy vocals. In 2015, he released his independent debut album, “Black Crow,” and just last year, he released the EP “Linden Ave.” He has also already experienced success as a songwriter as part of the writing team behind Granger Smith’s Top 10 hit “If the Boot Fits.”

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It’s obvious that with such a strong title and lyrics, “Bitches” is going to grab listeners’ attention. The question becomes whether it’s the kind of attention that a rising artist would want?

What are your thoughts on “Bitches?” Thumbs up or thumbs down? Do you think he could have gotten his message across without the use of a word that is considered demeaning to women? Or do you say he should call them like he sees them?

Let us know!

Based in Nashville, Tammy is a 20-year veteran of the country music community. She has worked in marketing, PR and artist development. Follow her @TammyGooGoo and join the conversation @RareCountry
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