Wednesday, April 21st, 2021

Lainey Wilson – Things a Man Oughta Know

1. The mess he made when he went away; 2. the cross I bear that he gave to me; 3…


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[4.57]

Alfred Soto: A man should know how to change a tire, use a shotgun, and catch a fish? Well! I guess this makes me half a man. To listen to how Lainey Wilson discards a wan but pretty melody on reversed stereotypes is to experience the shriveling of one’s soul. “If you really love a woman, you don’t let her go,” she avers. Well, hold on too tightly you smother her, especially if she knows how to change tires, use a shotgun, and catch fish.
[1]

Will Adams: While the melody is winsome, the gender essentialism is noxious. Perhaps one also oughta know to avoid cliché.
[3]

Juana Giaimo: This kind of lyrics that give life-lessons are only fun if the artists don’t take it seriously. Hearing that a woman can do the same things a man can do (and I’m not sure shooting a shotgun is actually something to be proud of) and that “if you really love a woman, you don’t let her go” sounds incredibly simplistic and boring —  and that slow guitar strum doesn’t help either.  
[4]

Natasha Genet Avery: Maybe I’m too much of a gay hag, but it’s impossible for me to be invested in gender “oughts” anymore. Lainey Wilson’s voice sounds bright and pleasant atop an inoffensive mid-tempo mandolin track, but “Things A Man Oughta Know” lacks the backstory, emotional core, or self-awareness that could make this premise interesting. Lainey hints at an ex-boy who “who gave up and got it wrong,” but doesn’t take the opportunity to insert herself into the narrative, opting to instead rattle off a manhood checklist of life skills (car maintenance, using a stud finder, etc.) and questionable coping mechanisms (“keep it hidden when a heart gets broke”). I prefer the comically raunchy depiction of Real Men™ in “Dirty Looks” to this weak attempt at subversion. 
[4]

Thomas Inskeep: That’s a mandolin on a mainstream country record! That’s also a set of smart lyrics, in which she’s not just talking about changing tires: “How to know when it’s love/How to stay when it’s tough/How to know you’re messin’ up a good thing/And how to fix it ‘fore it’s too late.” Oooh, that goes deep. It’s all aided strongly by a great, simple production job by Jay Joyce, and a vocal from Wilson that gets to the heart of the song. 
[8]

John S. Quinn-Puerta: Wilson plays a lot with syncopation on the verse here, tricking me into thinking this was a true rarity: a country song in 7. Either way, her defiance of rhythmic convention is reinforced by mountain river mandolins over softly beeping synths. The instrumentation delineated the structure of the song, with compressed electric guitars taking the ball on the chorus, with a touch of ’70s hair rock lead on the bridge. The lyrics beg to be read as something more but play it safe in the chorus, the weakest piece of an overall well-made song. 
[7]

Katherine St Asaph: Starts off doing some delicate Ashley Monroe stuff — a contrast to the burly guns-and-mechanics lyrics, and one I think largely works — but succumbs soon enough to country bombast: overblown chorus, foghorn autotune, guitar lumbering in. The whole thing just doesn’t make sense, either — the “I know a few things a man oughta know” suggests that the man in question doesn’t, so did they break up since he couldn’t shoot a bear or shotgun a beer or suppress his emotions?
[5]

Reader average: [8] (1 vote)

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4 Responses to “Lainey Wilson – Things a Man Oughta Know”

  1. I actually think this song is more subtle in its messaging than it appears – it brings up all those old hallmarks of manliness (catch a fish, etc) to basically discredit them (Lainey Wilson doesn’t need a man to hang a picture for her). Then it seems to point towards a newer definition of masculinity which includes caring for your partner and pulling your weight in the relationship.

    I feel like I’ve read this feminist argument about men not pulling their weight a few times, it’s just too bad that gets metastasized into the cancer of gender existentialist “men suck amirite?” and women berating men for not being manly enough and doing their part to enforce the gender binary on them. But honestly, this “we need a new definition of positive masculinity; a new standard for men to live up to” is an argument I’ve seen before, and it’s not ALL jordan peterson types or anti-trans gender essentialists making the argument.

    That part about hiding your feelings could be a women trying to enforce toxic masculinity on a man, but I don’t think you have to read it that way when there are also songs by e.g. Lady Antebellem about hiding your feelings just like Mama did. Some southern culture thing there getting tangled up with gender roles I think.

    Anyway this song is interesting. “A good man doesn’t let a woman go” is maybe an unfortunately vague way to say something that, said in a different way, honestly wouldn’t be a negative thing.

  2. I feel like I’ve read this feminist argument about men not pulling their weight a few times, it’s just too bad that gets metastasized into the cancer of gender existentialist “men suck amirite?” and women berating men for not being manly enough and doing their part to enforce the gender binary on them. But honestly, this “we need a new definition of positive masculinity; a new standard for men to live up to” is an argument I’ve seen before

    Yep. And these new standards need to apply to men from other men too. It made “Things…” a more depressing experience. I mean…who cares if I can change a tire?

  3. I enjoy living in a world where either person in the relationship could change the tire.

  4. I love the lyrics, the sound and the voice. Love all her music.I totally get the meaning of the song. Well done well done girl.