Welcome to Cad Country

Country music treats its women well. Mostly. Within its sheltering lyrics, girlfriends are doted on, wives revered and mothers routinely elevated to sainthood.

There are times, though, when all country boys seem to want from girls is — dare we say it? — S-E-X. On such occasions, the lads are virtually indistinguishable from rock stars.

As Exhibit A, we give you Toby Keith ’s latest expulsion of Certs-scented hot breath, “I’m Just Talkin’ About Tonight.” Here, Keith lobbies the lady-of-the-moment for “a little understanding” of his desire for the sort of relationship that’s not “too demanding,” i. e., a quickie. (Wiser heads might point him to Alan Jackson ’s 1995 lament about waking up married to a waitress and chanting, “I Don’t Even Know Your Name.”)

Songs touting the simple solace of sex — let’s lump them together as “cad country” — date back at least to Kris Kristofferson ’s early ’70s plea, “Help Me Make It Through the Night.” “Let the devil take tomorrow,” he groans dramatically, “but tonight I need a friend.” (Some will recall an earlier variant of this “doomed male” ploy: “Honey, I’m shipping out tomorrow.”)

Merle Haggard is philosophical in his 1972 resolve to make do with the amorous opportunities at hand, “It’s Not Love (but It’s Not Bad).” Johnny Duncan meets an old flame on the street and immediately begins “Thinkin’ of a Rendezvous” (1976). In a 1980 hit, Hank Williams Jr. offers a come-on that is breathtaking in its directness. “I like having,” he purrs, “women I’ve never had.”

Kenny Rogers has had recurring bouts of randiness, notable among them “Daytime Friends” (1977) and “Love or Something Like It” (1978). Conway Twitty boasted “I’ve Already Loved You in My Mind” (1977) and crooned “I’d Love to Lay You Down” (1980). Vern Gosdin set the standard for positive thinking about such carnal matters in 1984 when he sang “I Can Tell by the Way You Dance (You’re Gonna Love Me Tonight).”

Those seeking a lyrical inoculation against such animal urges may wish to listen to B. J. Thomas “Whatever Happened to Old-Fashioned Love.” Repeatedly.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.