Sunday, July 15, 2018

Before He Cheats; Get A Restraining Order

by Mark Barkawitz (writer), Pasadena, CA, May 03, 2008

Admittedly, I’m not a big country/western fan, but every so often—somewhere on the dial between KROQ in the morning and JACK in the afternoon—I’ll hear something in that genre that I like. I found Carrie Underwood’s vindictive, post-love song, “Before He Cheats,” fit nicely into that category. It’s an extremely popular song about a gal who takes revenge on a guy’s truck because he’s cheating on her. Anyway, that’s what I thought it was about, until I listened a little more closely. Hold your horses, Cowgirl! You just sang:

“Right now he’s probably slow dancing

With a bleached-blond tramp

And she’s probably getting frisky.”

Probably? Is or isn’t there another woman? To make sure I hadn’t missed some key element in the song, I went on-line to and checked out the exact wording by songwriters Chris Tompkins and Josh Kear. And there it is in print just as I’d heard it on MYFM—“probably” over and over again—a presumption of guilt. The persona’s case against her boyfriend built solely on speculation. Therefore, according to the words of this song, it is NOT about a scum ball man who’s cheating on his girlfriend. Rather, it is about a whacko woman who presumes her boyfriend is cheating on her with “a” generic “bleached-blond tramp”—no one specifically—merely because his truck is parked outside a bar. That’s her only evidence against him? Not even the mention of a previous tryst. He could just as well be having a beer and shooting pool with his buddies. Right? Suspicion is not evidence. And that is very, very different than a righteous woman giving it to a man-who-had-it-coming-to-him, which is how Miss Underwood delivers it and how most of us had probably interpreted it. Take-out-a-restraining-order different.

“I dug my key into the side

Of his pretty little suped-up 4 wheel drive,

Carved my name into his leather seat.

I took a Louisville slugger to both headlights,

Slashed a hole in all 4 tires . . .

Maybe next time he’ll think before he cheats.”

Or gives a crazy woman the key to his expensive truck! I know a number of you music lovers out there are probably seething upon reading this because you really like this song (I’ve read your blogs) and you really want him to be the bad guy and her to be the righteous woman avenging a wrong, but that’s not what the words say. So don’t get mad at me for pointing it out. Your argument is with the songwriters. Or maybe that was their point all along? Either way, I’m just reporting what’s on the page and the words coming out of Carrie’s mouth.

Don’t get me wrong—I still enjoy the song and the way she belts out that chorus. However, I now hear it with a different perspective.

About the Writer

Mark Barkawitz is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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