No tags :(

Share it

KING 4526; APRIL 1952



Is this a statement, a command or a complaint?

With Wynonie Harris you never know.

It’s easy to envision the rakish Harris offering this title from all three perspectives. In the first example he’s obviously got more experience than most when it comes to extracurricular activities with married women and maybe that’s why he likes to have them with no long term strings attached.

On the other hand you can certainly see one or two particularly enthusiastic partners deciding that life with a tireless sex machine like Wynonie who is also a big spender perpetually enjoying the high life would be preferable to a boring old husband and so Harris, wary of the implications should one (or more) decide to seek a divorce to be with him is demanding they stay where they are and maintain their status as someone else’s ball and chain.

Finally though we have to acknowledge there ARE twenty-four hours in a day and seven days in a week, which means there are potentially one hundred and sixty eight open spots in his social calendar from Sunday through Saturday and if all of the married women are proclaiming themselves off limits, you can understand why he’d be bitching about it.

Whatever the case may be however, with Wynonie Harris any time there’s a song with “women” in the title, our chances of being entertained goes up considerably.


Snatchin’ Apples From Another Man’s Tree
Whadaya know?… the correct answer is none of the three options we laid out.

Go figure.

You might think this would be a crushing disappointment, robbing Wynonie Harris of the swaggering persona he’s most famous for, especially when what we get in its place is a character who is downright skittish about the ramifications of female infidelity, even with himself as the beneficiary of their wanton desires.

Are we sure about this? Wynonie Harris avoiding shallow and meaningless sexual assignations! What’s next, Santa Claus taking Christmas off this year because the milk and cookies will ruin his diet?

At least Harris is saying Married Women – Stay Married for reasons slightly more understandable than his waistline, for it seems as if his notoriety for laying wood with any female, wedding vows be damned, is catching up to him as he looks around him and sees other philandering men dropping like flies as the disgruntled hubby-brigade seek retribution for boinking their wives.

What’s interesting about this is how Harris, with help from Todd Rhodes, makes this request sound as if it’s coming from someone on his last legs rather than a guy who would drop his drawers upon merely seeing a shapely shadow on the sidewalk.

Surely this is some sort of a dodge… isn’t it?


Once I Had A Sweetheart
Give them credit for this much… with Harris’s reputation being a prime selling point for his records, and with years of singles having depleted most of the obvious angles with which to cover these topics, they somehow managed to effectively come up with a new wrinkle on his sexual proclivities here that takes advantage of the listener’s history with him while not merely repeating themselves in the process.

It also gives Harris another chance to show that he’s more than a one-note performer… though you’d be forgiven if you’ve forgotten such gems as I Feel That Old Age Coming On amidst all of the usual songs about endless drunken conquests that followed.

So he doesn’t throw off your senses too much, at least here he’s admitting to past affairs, though of course taking no blame for it, claiming the woman never told him of her nuptials with someone else (as if that would’ve discouraged him!). But after nearly getting his head blown off in the process he has finally come to the conclusion that discretion – if not outright abstinence – is the better part of valor.

His cowed vocals, at least for most of Married Women – Stay Married, displays a good bit of acting talent that suits the character and plot quite well, as shocking as it is coming from him. It’s almost like seeing the ever-affable Jimmy Stewart playing a cold-eyed killer. Maybe conscious of people’s expectations he does let loose with a few more exuberant cries at times, not wanting to completely damage his hard-earned reputation as a fearless hellraiser in just one song, but even here you can say it fits the story as it’s indicative of the old Wynonie before he nearly had his wings clipped for good by a jealous husband.

Even with a subdued delivery the lines have enough humor and vivid descriptions – along with a cleverly repurposed shoutout to Tennessee Ernie Ford’s recent hit Shotgun Boogie thrown in as an ad-lib – to give the record an identity beyond just the about-face of Harris’s normal attitude, even though that merely ensures it’s more than just an odd-fitting novelty in his catalog, for it’s not enough to elevate it to hit status on its own.

The same is true for Rhodes’ backing track which fits the more melancholy vibe with its slightly jazzy old-school arrangement, but the alto sax lead is obviously not going to stir the audience like a scorching tenor break would.

That’s the trade off required to make this work though, it’s a unique appetizer to the more appropriate flip side that serves as the main course.

Too Many Men In The Graveyard
Once again, as with all of King Records’ output during this era, you’ll need to adjust your normal train of thought when it comes to A and B sides, as the label used the AA designation for the plug side, but it definitely represents an ideal Wynonie Harris B-side, in large part because it takes so much joy in playing with your perceptions, both musically and in terms of Harris’s image.

Not strong enough to be a hit on its own, yet because of how unusual it is in his catalog and how well he plays the role, Married Women – Stay Married provides something of an unexpected bonus for your continued investment in his career… more bang for your buck, even if in this instance that meant less bang(ing) for this perpetually horny buck.

Every time you’re about to write off Harris as either being past his creative prime, over the commercial hill or just too one-dimensional to keep pace in a rock landscape that is ever more diverse he comes along with a tune that is creative enough to earn him accolades for something other than another display of his usual musical virility.

Somehow though, I still think no matter how nervous Harris is about winding up six feet under for messing with the wrong fella’s wife, come about 11PM on a Saturday night he’s going to be looking for a loophole in his vow to remain celibate if the bar is packed with fine ladies all wearing wedding bands.


(Visit the Artist page of Wynonie Harris for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)