Loretta Lynn’s ‘The Pill’ May Have Gotten Banned, But She Had the Last Laugh
Loretta Lynn has caused plenty of controversy over the course of her storied career in country music, including having -- by her count -- 14 songs banned from the radio. Arguably none of those caused a bigger stir, however, than her 1975 release, "The Pill," which celebrates birth control and all the freedom it offers to married women who don't want or can't afford another baby.
After its release, 60 stations across America refused to play "The Pill," and at least one Kentucky preacher denounced Lynn and the song's scandalous lyrics, People reported at the time. However, it wasn't as if sex and other salacious topics were off limits for country radio; in fact, plenty of Lynn's male colleagues were releasing equally titillating music, if not more so. The same year that Lynn dropped "The Pill," for example, Gene Watson shared the steamy "Love in the Hot Afternoon," which details a sexy afternoon encounter with a stranger in the New Orleans heat. After doing the deed, the pair head to a local park to get high, then go back to their room for another round.
That track shot up to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, where it garnered protest from some of the genre's more conservative DJs, but it endured nowhere near the backlash inspired by "The Pill." It's just one example of the double standard imposed on female country singers; the trend gets a comprehensive treatment on an October 2017 episode of the Cocaine and Rhinestones podcast about Lynn's career and banned music.
Still, Lynn got the last laugh: "The Pill" has gone on to be one of her most popular songs of all time, even more so because it was banned. As of People's article on the track in March of 1975, the song was selling 15,000 copies a week, even without airplay. And that Kentucky preacher who spoke out against Lynn and her controversial song? "The effect was to send much of the congregation scurrying out to buy the record," the article points out.
To learn more about Lynn's controversial, pioneering career, including how "The Pill" almost got her booted from the Grand Ole Opry, press play above to watch this week's episode of The Secret History of Country Music, from The Boot's partner site, Taste of Country.
Loretta Lynn Through the Years