1969's "My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy" album: here lurks some surprisingly dark stuff, and I think it's telling that it's not available on CD.
Hailing from her third solo album, 1969's "My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy" (the title track of which is from the point of view of a bored girl who leaves her sleepy hometown for the excitement of New Orleans, only to end up as a prostitute), "Evening Shade" kicked my ass when I first heard it right around the time the innocuous and annoying "9 To 5" movie theme song was a monster hit, and I simply could not believe such a pitch-black dark number could have been created by the same merry Top 40 songstress. Parton's delivery of the tune's words is as matter-of-fact as a police blotter report or a statement given to investigating police officers after the event took place, and I buy every word of what the character has to say. Once I heard it I checked out a lot of Parton's early works, and from that exploration was born my undying respect for the woman and her work. Anyway, here are the lyrics to "Evening Shade," and I say you'd be hard-pressed to find a more disturbing song in its entire musical genre. It certainly isn't anywhere near the same galaxy as "9 To 5," but then again if a tune like Kenny Rogers' "Coward of the County" can be an immense crossover hit and be perhaps the only hugely-popular Top 40 song to feature a gang-rape, I guess anything is possible.
"Evening Shade" (1969) by Dolly Parton
My train of thought was broken by a sudden burst of laughter Something badly needed to brighten up the chores Seemed old Mrs. Bailey had accidentally fell In the water being used to scrub the floors Now Mrs. Bailey was the meanest matron at the home She believed in lots of work with little play And we laughed till we bent double Though we knew we’d get in trouble But trouble’s all we had at evening shade Now Evening Shade was where they claim to teach you understanding To teach you love and keep you off the streets And all the kids that live here are said to be a problem Juvenile delinquents so to speak But understanding isn’t learned from punishment and anger An iron has no gentle touch and love ain’t learned from hate The reason we were here is ’cause we had no one who cared But they cared even less at Evening Shade Little Susan Bradley one night had wet her bed Mrs. Bailey took the razor strap and beat her half to death And I knew that something must be done to put an end to this And so I started talking plans with the older kids Plans were that Joe Johnson would steal the kerosene And I would get some matches when nobody seen Beckie Adams would make sure the kids were all outside Billy Watson would look out for the evil eye Now Mrs. Bailey took a nap at three o’clock each day We knew that she’d be a’sleeping as the plans got underway Now that it’s all over and the sun is going down There’s no Evening Shade ’cause we burned it to the ground