“Trying to Love Two Women”
The Oak Ridge Boys
Written by Sonny Throckmorton
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
June 13, 1980
#1 (1 week)
June 28, 1980
It’s hard out there for a pimp.
“Trying to Love Two Women” by the Oak Ridge Boys directs its energy toward the difficulties of the man who is trying to manage two relationships at once. It’s not easy, you know, because “One’s got my money, the other’s got my heart.”
Now seems as good a time as any to praise the Oak Ridge Boys for the way they can use their church-borrowed harmonies to get away with some recreational activities that would make the devil smile. It reminds me a bit of how the Golden Girls was able to be the filthiest show on television in the eighties because the lines came out of classy middle aged ladies.
And props to the songwriter here, Sonny Throckmorton, for the best damn metaphor I’ve heard in a long time: “A man can’t stock two shelves.”
I won’t go as far as to say that they are able to make the protagonist likeable here, but I do appreciate the fact that they’re leaning into him being hoisted by his own petard:
Trying to love two women is like a ball and chainSometimes the pleasure ain’t worth the strain It’s a long old grind, and it tires your mind.
Poor, poor pitiful he! He may be miserable, but the record itself is an enjoyable and often uproarious listening experience.
This was the lead single from their 1980 album Together, and the closed out the year with the second release from the album. “Heart of Mine” went top five. They’ll return to the top in 1981 with the final single from this album, followed by the song that they’re most closely associated with today.
“Trying to Love Two Women” gets a B+.
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Sonny Throckmorton was the hottest songwriter in Nashville in the late seventies and 1980. He purportedly had 150 songs recorded in Nashville in a nine month period in the late seventies. In 1980 he won both the Nashville Songwriter’s Association International Songwriter of the Year and the BMI Songwriter of the Year. It’s no surprise such a great song came from his pen.
Kevin has tapped into the sense of spectacle and showmanship that made the Oaks so special to me. They we’re old-school entertainers. They sold a song just as much as they performed it.
Listeners, however, could fault them for that same showmanship just as easily as they could celebrate it.
As I have shared before, I am a huge fan of their style and personalities. I loved their early eighties music and have similarly love their late career work with Dave Cobb as their producer.
Once you embrace the tension between their tendency toward maudlin sincerity, faith, and camp,their music flows.
The Oaks and Statler Brothers were fun and comedic in ways later bands like Alabama were not.
It was a difficult musical path to walk, but nobody did it better than the Oak Ridge Boys at their prime.
“Once you embrace the tension between their tendency toward maudlin sincerity, faith, and camp, their music flows.”
That makes a lot of sense. I’ll keep that in mind going forward, as they will make many more appearances on this list!
“It’s hard out here for a pimp” lmao never thought I’d read that in a country song review. Good song!