25 June 2016

Archie's Titty Twister (Part Two)


INSIDE CHERRY VAGINA 1

WHO Put The C*NT Into COUNTRY MUSIC?
Inside Cherry Vagina
Words + Music by The Archies
Yet another Cartoons + Castanets Pop Art Fantasy
by DC Hampton Jacobs
Pop Art Images of Archie Comics characters
drawn by Stuffed Animal
with Cartoon Cameo Appearances by
Trace Adkins, Mandy Barnett, Garth Brooks, Laura Bell Bundy, The Cadillac Three,
Miranda Lambert and The Pistol Annies, Jake Owen, Cassadee Pope, Ray Scott,
Jussie Smollett, Frankie Staton, Rick Trevino, Darryl Worley, Trisha Yearwood,
Dwight Yoakam, Chris Young
and
Dolly Parton

This is the bawdy story of a song publishing empire that never was: Archie and Veronica Lodge-Andrews' Cherry Vagina Music! Operating during the early 2000s, this publisher specialized in original Country material of a high caliber. Its product included unforgettable singles like "On A Wrong-Way Street To Love", "Down On The Spanish Side," "Eunice Danvers" and "Titty Twister!" Archie, Betty Jones, her husband Jughead and Trevor Smith were the firm's top songwriters. In 2008, eager-beaver song plugger Chuck Clayton came on board. Dude raised the company's profile in Nashville using a combination of schmooze and raw sex appeal. Chuckii's hard work is about to pay off big for both Cherry Vagina and one of Nashville's most talented divas. Part Two of Inside Cherry Vagina starts right here, right now!

INSIDE CHERRY VAGINA CAST 2

The difficulties of childbirth had never been the subject of a Country music hit. That changed when Mandy Barnett scored big with “Labor and Delivery”! Male-dominated Country radio balked at playing the frank Betty Jones composition, leaving it stalled in the Top Twenty; however, female fans bought the single in droves. It won a Gold Record on sales alone! Mandy called it her “baby-birthin’ song” and for better or worse, it became her signature tune. “Honey child, I don’t dare leave a stage without singin’ it," she revealed to Maverick Magazine. "The oddest thing is how all these expectant mothers have started attending my concerts. You’d think that line about C-sections would scare them away!”

Betty gained a reputation for penning provocative Country songs, so much so that people started calling her the Devilish Ms. Jones!  They also dubbed her the new Loretta Lynn.  Betts felt humbled: "The comparison is incredibly flattering. I guess Loretta and I both like to write songs that are plain-spoken and direct. We don't pull any punches!" In 2010, she dropped her most daring set of lyrics to date: Those for “Baby, It’s All Over Town”. "It" referred to the protagonist's reputation as a red-hot lover who can shag all night long!  Men have sung bragging songs forever; but was Nashville ready for a female vocalist trumpeting her physical attributes and sexual prowess? A good many Country divas seemed to think so: A race ensued to see who’d be first to cut the tune!

SONG PORTFOLIO_1

At first, it looked like Carrie Underwood would win the race, but Dolly Parton had an inside track: Her long-ago romance with Hiram Lodge, Veronica’s late father!  "Dolly was almost my mama," Roni used to brag.  "Her and Daddykins were hot 'n' heavy for awhile, but then Porter Wagoner got jealous.  They had to break up for the sake of her music career!"

Subsequently, the busty blonde matched Hiram up with Hermione Stellanedra, one of her closest friends.  When the couple wed, Dolly was maid of honor, and she became godmother to their daughter.  Roni adored her "Mama Titties" from childhood on, so when Dolly let it be known she wanted to record "Baby, It's All Over Town", the song was hers for the asking!  “Those lyrics sound like something I could have written my damn self," she raved. " I wish I had, too! But Betty and Juggy Jones did a great job writin’ it for me.” 

Indeed, both words and music fit Dolly’s sassy personality like a hand-in-glove: Got cruise-ship hips/Got a prize between my thighs! That her fabulous Bluegrass single would zoom to the top of the Country charts was all but a given. “Baby” was also nominated Song of the Year!  The Archies attended the 2011 CMA Awards as Dolly’s special guests. Although her chart-topper didn’t win, the Queen of Nashville got a wild standing ovation when she performed it trio style with Veronica and Betty!

2011 CMA AWARDS

Oddly enough, The Archies rarely performed their Country compositions in concert. Their 2010 world tour was an exception: On the North American leg of that tour, they treated fans to versions of "Titty Twister", "Down On The Spanish Side" and "On A Wrong-Way Street To Love."  They weren't anything like the hit versions, though: Not wanting to compete with the Nashville originals, Archie decided to play the tunes for laughs! He, Reggie and Trevor sang exaggerated "sh*t-kicker" vocals, while Betty and Juggy attempted cornpone impersonations of their friends Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks.  Reaction was mixed; some fans were delighted, but others objected to the crude Hee Haw antics.  By tour's end, both the songs and the ill-conceived Country comedy had been dropped from the show.

Meanwhile, the hits kept coming: Bilingual Country crooner Rick Treviño cut “Phantom Blonde” for his 2010 album La Viuda Espinoza (The Widow). It was never actually released as a single, but that didn't stop it getting played on the radio. In fact, there was sufficient airplay for the track to chart at #39 Country. Predictably, Veronica was p*ssed! “Kevin Keller and I didn't write a Top Forty song, we wrote a Number One song," she fumed. "No disrespect to Rick Treviño, but his record company let a blockbuster slip through their fingers.  WTF?”

There was better promotion overseas, and Roni felt vindicated when a single pressing of “Blonde” went Top Ten in Australia. Unfortunately, this would be her only hit.  It was hella frustrating for her, because she was Cherry Vagina Music's most prolific songwriter: Most of the demos found in 2116 are her compositions. A scandalous rumor helped propel Treviño's record up the charts: That “Phantom Blonde” was about Veronica's much-regretted affair with Jughead in the year 2006! That would make Betty Jones the blonde in question!  Roni chose not to address the issue, which only fueled speculation.

NASHVILLE KATZ

Pan-Americana Records 02171
Wild Like That! (Roni Lodge-Andrews)
Corn Girls And Country Boys (Betty + Forsythe Jones)
Down On The Spanish Side (Archie Andrews, Dilton Doiley Briseño)
Chinchilla Blues (Kevin Keller, Roni Lodge-Andrews)
1994 (Timothy Garland, Sabrina Spellman)
Jesus Was A Gambler (Betty Jones, Ethel Muggs Mason)
Heartquake Shake 'n' Bake (Roni Lodge-Andrews, Ethel Muggs Mason)
Don't U Want Me 2 Love U? (Kevin Keller, Roni Lodge-Andrews)
Makin' It Lonely For Me (Betty Jones)
Titty Twister (Archie Andrews, Forsythe Jones, Ethel Muggs Mason)
Nashville Katz
Katz + The Fiddles
An Archie Americana Production
Music Supervision:
Mike Pellerito
Produced by Chuck Clayton
Sound Engineer:
Cade Murphy
Recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios
2010

Early in 2010, Cherry Vagina Music tried to launch another custom label. Archie Americana Records lasted for just one release: A now-highly collectible album by Archie's favorite roots band, Katz + The Fiddles. Every selection on it was a Cherry Vagina copyright.  Produced by Chuck Clayton, Nashville Katz was actually recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.  Bandleader Katz Rockland felt awestruck standing in the studio at 3614 Jackson Highway, where a litany of Pop, Soul and Country legends had cut sessions. "Kiss my grits and call me Country!" she exclaimed. "Me and the boys have sure got a high standard to meet."

But they rose to the challenge: The Fiddles' album earned great reviews (Rolling Stone called it "home brew of a fine vintage"), and for a while, it did strong word-of-mouth business. Yet ultimately, the CD failed to chart. Radio seemed resistant to the band's hard Country sound, but Chuck Clayton detected a more sinister motive for the snub.  "When critics started comparing Katz to kd lang, I knew we were in trouble," he complained.  "Nashville still isn't ready for an openly Lesbian star; never mind all the closeted ones! G*ddammit! When is Music City gonna grow the f*ck up?"  Everyone involved was disappointed except for Big Ethel, who had a philosophical viewpoint.  "An album as fine as this one is like money in the bank," she believed.  "It just builds up interest!"

BIG ETHEL

Ethel Muggs Mason was the first artist signed to Archie Records; her single "B*tch Better Bring My Pizza" has been hailed as a comedy Hip-Hop classic!  Later on, Ethel became Archie Andrews's executive secretary. Babe was also a demo singer and a songwriter signed to Cherry Vagina Music. When she co-wrote the Country hit "Titty Twister", her husband hit the roof! Duke Mason was a Pentecostal minister, after all. Naturally, the huge financial windfall from that song helped smooth things over; Pastor Mason financed the renovation of his church with royalty checks. ("God works in mysterious ways," he shrugged.)   Happily, Big Ethel's songwriting (which also produced hardcore Gangsta Rap lyrics!!!) was the only source of conflict in her long and happy marriage to Big Moose.

Ethel's words couldn't have been more prescient: Nashville Katz was so popular in music industry circles, Las Vegas came calling for The Fiddles.  What's more, their album was an excellent showcase for The Archies' original songs.  Some of Country music's hottest acts mined the track listing for gold. Gretchen Wilson scooped up "Corn Girls And Country Boys", another envelope-pushing Betty and Juggy Jones collaboration. Ty Herndon helped himself to "Jesus Was A Gambler," which half-Jewish Betty Jones wrote with Big Ethel, a "born-again" Christian. Dwight Yoakam rode off with Veronica and Ethel's "Heartquake Shake 'n' Bake" and took the ladies with him! They played percussion and sang background vocals on his cover version. These choice nuggets turned up later on various new albums.

HEARTQUAKE SHAKE 'N' BAKE

Laura Bell Bundy came away with the biggest prize by far: A #3 Country single! But babe had to fight like Hell for it. Laura was incensed when record executives put her superb recording of "Makin' It Lonely For Me" on indefinite hold. "WTF is the matter with these people?" she raged. "I bet they wouldn't know a hit record if it kicked them in the balls!"

For six months, Laura badgered them to release the single. When it finally hit the streets in early 2010, Nash Country Weekly proclaimed it “The best torch ballad of the year!” Her record company was forced to eat crow, but what a tasty meal that was: Betty´s song was a stone smash right out of the gate! When it stormed the Top Ten, Country femmes by the dozen started clamoring for her sad honky-tonk waltzes. In 2011, Carlene Carter rode “Another Cup Of Pain” into the Top Twenty, as did Kacey Musgraves singing “Pourin’ My Love Out.” But Betts didn't stop writing uptempo tunes: In early 2012, Miss Frankie Staton got up to #45 with another one of her risqué titles: “Hair Of A Dog That Bit Him (In His Ass)!”

TITTY TWISTER 1 3

The most notorious Betty Jones song (and one that’s still unconfirmed) is a number called “Who Put The C*nt Into Country Music?” This dirty ditty was published by a little known Cherry Vagina affiliate called Sh*t Happens Music, and credited to one "Bethesda Butt." Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood tracked a finished master in late 2012 but never released it. “And,” Trisha later vowed, “you will never, ever hear that record! Garth knows that if he puts it out, I will strangle him with my bare hands!”

“But didn’t we have fun cutting it, though?” her husband chuckled. “I must say, the outtakes on that session were kinda spicy.” “Filthy is more like it!” she sniffed. The demo, which has disappeared, featured Betty's vocals. Nobody at Cherry Vagina Music ever heard of Bethesda Butt, and that name doesn't appear anywhere in Archie Americana's payroll records. Those facts fuel speculation that Betty used it as an alias. If so, that's a secret the Devilish Ms. Jones will take to her grave! She'll never acknowledge authorship.  Here's an interesting aside, though: Whenever the title was mentioned in Archie's presence, he'd shoot a sly glance at his wife and wink an eye . . .

There's no such mystery about “Tighter”. Betty definitely wrote the suggestive number, and it's the only original song the adult Archies will release in their lifetimes. The non-album track will be the flipside of “San Francisco (Flowers In Your Hair)”, their chart-topping charity single of 2030. However, the tune will have been kicking around for over 15 years by then.  Song plugger Chuck Clayton first had Reba McEntire in mind to record it, then Martina McBride. The song was also pitched to Wynonna without success. It sounds like something Tina Turner might've sung in the '60s, but a male Country artist ended up cutting the bluesy number: North Carolina native Ray Scott.  Betty loved his unusual interpretation, which started off sounding like an old mountain ballad and then shifted into Bluegrass overdrive with high-lonesome vocals.

HAIR OF A DOG

"Tighter" was arguably the best song on Backwoods Dandy, a 2012 Ray Scott album that didn’t lack for strong compositions; other contributors included top Nashville songwriters Jimbeau Hinson, Shane McAnally, Brandy Clark and Ray himself. In early 2013, Jo Dee Messina cracked the Country Top Forty with a honky-tonk version that Betty also loved; but The Archies’ 2030 recording (sung by Jughead) will hew closer to her rockin’ demo.

STARTLING RELATIONSHIP

In 1990, Betty Cooper became Mrs. Jughead Jones. Two years later, Archie married up Veronica Lodge; but when her beloved father died in 2005, a grieving Roni reached out to Juggy for comfort. The long-time bandmates had a notorious love/hate relationship, but somehow they ended up in bed together. When she found out about their affair, an enraged Betty Jones took revenge by seducing Archie! The infidelities were short-lived, and hurt feelings were ultimately put aside; cheating will play no part when Betty divorces Juggy in early 2017. However, one of those illicit unions produced a secret love child whose great-grandchild will figure into a future Cartoons and Castanets graphic novel!

Known for taking the bull by the horns, tough-as-nails Country diva Miranda Lambert fell up in Cherry Vagina’s Nashville offices one day in 2013. Babe was on the hunt for a special kind of song. “I know y'all are good with ballads,” she drawled to Chuck Clayton, “but my band, The Pistol Annies, needs a new single. No cryin’-in-your-beer bullsh*t for us! We want a tune that f*ckin' kicks ass and takes names. Have you got somethin’ suitable?”

Chuckii gave Miranda first dibs on “Fire Burning Love”, a brand new number co-written by Archie and Josetta James. Babe dug the tune, but it was Veronica and Betty's sizzling demo vocals that really sold her. Mere hours later, she, Angaleena Presley and Ashley Monroe were getting busy in her home studio. They revamped the Heavy Metal screamer with a dirty Southern Rock groove; but their trio singing was nearly a carbon copy of what Roni and Betty had done.

Not tampering with vocal perfection was a smart move on their part: “Fire” lived up to its name, burning up the Country charts! The Top Five hit became a concert staple for the formidable Ms. Lambert with or without her Annies. Two months later, Chuckii placed another Josie tune with Cassadee Pope. The rising star made "Reprehensible" the lead track on her new album Cassadee Kickin' Ass! It turned out to be her big breakthrough record, too: A chart-topper that sold half a million copies! The disc fell just shy of winning an Album Of The Year trophy at the 2014 ACM Awards.

JOSIE, BETTY, RONI & ALAN M

Chuck Clayton was richly rewarded for these latest coups: At Cherry Vagina's 2013 Christmas party, Chuckii surprised everybody by jumping out of a giant cake dressed as Santa Claus (the Chippendales version)!  Then, at the height of festivities, Veronica surprised him: She announced his appointment to the post of Publishing CEO! It was a long-overdue promotion. Jughead's sister Anjelica "Jelli" Jones-Torres replaced Chuckii in Nashville.  Nobody at Archie Americana Productions had a clue: The Archies' Music City goldmine had already tapped out!

CHERRY VAGINA CHRISTMAS PARTY

Fast forward to 2016: Jussie Smollett, star of the runaway hit cable series "Empire", jump-starts an interrupted recording career. The versatile actor/singer/songwriter intends one of his own compositions for a comeback single; however, his good buddy Trevor Smith convinces him to do otherwise. Trev brings Jussie a number that's equal parts Rock, Rap and Indian Raga. "I wrote this song for Hank Williams, Jr," he explained," and ol' Bocephus cut it.  But it never came out, because his producer didn't think it was Country enough".

"No sh*t?" Jussie laughed.  "I agree with him!  In fact, I don't think it's Country at all.  But whatever it is, it's perfect for me." Dude will never regret the substitution: After leapfrogging over records by Beyoncé, Kanye West and some of the biggest Gangsta rappers in the Hip-Hop, “What’s Your Sign?” lodges atop the R + B charts for a whole month!

 Composed in 2011, Jussie Smollett's Number One single is a Cherry Vagina copyright; but by 2016, Trevor Smith no longer writes for the firm.  In late 2012, Trev and Jazz arranger Justin Strickland launched Smith-Strickland, a Sony Music affiliate.  At that time, nearly two years had passed since Valerie Smith's little brother had spun Music City gold.  Chuck Clayton begged him not to jump ship, but dude's mind was made up. "I feel like a fish out of water, writing songs for Nashville," he revealed. "Country music is what Cherry Vagina does best, but it's time to face facts: I'm just not a Country songwriter!"

TITTY TWISTER 1 1

Maybe not, but then again, maybe so.  Trev wrote the only other Cherry Vagina copyright to have an immediate impact outside Nashville.  That song was stoned Country music, and it was also one of the firm's biggest hits.  Back in 2009, Trev composed "Saturday Clown" with help from Archie and Justin Strickland.  In classic Country waltz time, it spun the heartbreaking tale of a divorced father who only sees his baby daughter on weekends.  Made up like a circus clown for his toddler's amusement, Daddy arrives for their visit to find a devastating scene: His ex-wife has abandoned their house and left no forwarding address.  Reggie Mantle wailed like a fatherless child on the demo: Will I ever hear my Buffy laugh again?  Country hunk Chris Young snatched up the song and nailed its bittersweet sentiment on his very first try. Word flew around Music City that it was a Number One Country smash waiting to happen!

Well, it didn't happen, but something just as fantastic did. Recorded in March 2010, Chris’s single was sailing up the Country charts by early April. Somehow, it only got as high as #7; but by the end of May, it was sitting pretty atop Billboard’s Hot 100 Pop listings! In June, “Saturday Clown” topped the Adult-Contemporary charts, too, having not budged from its Top Ten Country berth. Eight months later, it would finally drop off all three charts . . a mega-monster hit!

Chris Young will score many big Country records, but none bigger than "Saturday Clown". Dude got passed over for (his fans say "robbed of") a CMA Male Vocalist Of The Year nomination, and that was a major letdown; but on the other hand, Cherry Vagina copyrights were all over Country radio.  2010 was the firm's banner year: Hot on the heels of Chris Young's triumph came Dolly Parton’s “Baby, It’s All Over Town”, Laura Bell Bundy’s “Makin’ It Lonely For Me” and Rick Treviño’s Australian smash “Phantom Blonde.” There were also chart records by Maddie + Tae, Billy Currington, Joe Nichols and Drake Jensen, written by Archie, Betty or Jughead. Nashville's hottest out-of-town publisher won a trio of BMI Awards!

2011 BMI AWARDS

In 2013, Nashville "popped its cherry" again, and champagne corks popped in Chuck Clayton's office!  The quartet of hits that justified his promotion to CEO were the aforementioned "Tighter"; "Reprehensible"; "Fire Burning Love"; and another one of Archie's full-tilt rockers: “Bat Out Of Wichita!” Trace Adkins served it up to Country radio in a snarling, pedal-to-the-metal rendition. This torrid chronicle of a prison break was tailor-made for Trace's barrel-chested baritone; "Wichita" shot to Number One, stayed put for two weeks and was the fastest-selling single he ever had! Unfortunately, it was also Cherry Vagina's last Country chart-topper for many years. There was another Song Of The Year nomination, and another star-studded appearance by The Archies at the CMA Awards; but then, suddenly, it was all over.

Arch, Betty, Juggy, Roni and Trev got caught up in cutting, releasing and watching their first and only Jazz album flop.  Jump Back Honey! consumed a huge amount of time and effort, and its failure knocked the wind out of everybody's sails.  In 2014, The Archies spun their wheels a second time with an aborted ABBA tribute; and then the surprise sale of Archie Records to Jason Blossom splintered the group: Jason was a notorious corporate raider that no Archie Records act wanted to record for. One of the greatest indie labels of the early 2000s vanished overnight!  Riverdale's Rock royalty took an extended break from touring and recording that nobody was sure they'd ever return from.

Needless to say, demo production slowed to a crawl.  Cherry Vagina lost its market momentum and never got it back!  Jelli Jones-Torres wasn't the networking dynamo that Chuck Clayton had been; but to be fair, she had very little to promote. When their contracts expired, Josie, Betty and Juggy followed Trevor's example and cut new publishing deals elsewhere. Kevin Keller became a Heavy Metal superstar and got too busy to write with Veronica anymore. New signee Toni Topaz penned some songs with Roni, but they never got recorded. The Lodge-Andrews and Alan Mayberry will unload Cherry Vagina Music in early 2017; they'll sell the catalog to PeerMusic for a tidy profit that's shared among all the writers.

MADE 4 VINYL

The Archies will reunite one last time in the year 2030. By then, Betty and Jughead will be divorced, Reggie will have gone solo, and Trevor is a big-time record executive who rarely performs anymore.  Kevin Keller and Juggy's second wife Toni Topaz are new recruits, with Kelly replacing Arch as lead singer. Near the end of their 2031-2 farewell tour, this final incarnation of the group will perform two Cherry Vagina copyrights.

 At a show in Montréal, a drunk heckler keeps screaming for "Titty Twister"!  Finally, Archie yells back:  "You asked for it, motherf*cker!" and counts off the intro.  The band tears into an impromptu performance of The Cadillac Three hit, which drives the SRO crowd hog wild!  That's nothing, though, compared to what happens next: Betty Cooper leaves the stage and returns wearing nothing but a tight T-shirt, black lace panties and a pair of cowgirl boots! The 66-year-old singer/songwriter belts out "Baby, It's All Over Town" while swishing her still-voluptuous body across the stage.  Needless to say, babe brings the house down!  Both Country songs stay in the set list for the remainder of the tour.

BABY, IT'S ALL OVER TOWN

So that's the end of the story, except for this sensational coda: Vox Sound + Image, a company based in Ghaziabad, India, acquires the Archie Records catalog in 2059.  Vox will compile some of the demonstration records that surface in 2016 and release them as a download called Reprehensible! The title track is Josetta James's demo version (sung by Veronica and Betty) of the 2013 Cassadee Pope album cut. Included among the 24 other Cherry Vagina copyrights are the Pop/Country smash "Saturday Clown", the Country chart-busters "Baby, It's All Over Town", "Bat Out Of Wichita" and "On A Wrong-Way Street To Love", and the Hip-Hop best-seller "What's Your Sign?"

REPREHENSIBLE CD SLEEVE DESIGN

All but two of the selections are demo recordings, but there's a surprise in the track lineup:  A pair of finished masters by The Archies! Ralfi Chingas's productions of "Titty Twister" and "St, Kevin, Apostrophe" will also turn up in the Riverdale Music Academy archives. Popular demand prompts Vox to release them as a belated Archies single in 2117. Everyone from the executive suite on down is stunned when they score a double-sided Number One Country record!

The downloadable vinyl disc goes Top Ten Pop, too; and outside North America, one or the other side tops charts all over Europe, Asia and Australia. Its unprecedented success upends the digital music industry and consolidates a posthumous Archiemania that's been erupting periodically since the 2070s. Needless to say, it also enhances the reputation of Cherry Vagina Music tenfold! The stage is set for dozens of new covers of old CV copyrights, stretching into the 23rd century and beyond.

REPREHENSIBLE INSIDE INSERT_1

Happy Gay Pride month!  This story is dedicated to all the closeted Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Country stars, past and present. Their contributions to America's favorite music genre are far more numerous and substantial than anyone will ever realize or acknowledge!