I freely admit to being a bit slow. Somewhat oblivious, even.
But even so, I can’t believe it took me almost forty-five years to spot this.
Still, as far as I can tell–a quick web search, a perusal of the relevant Wikipedia article, and a consultation with a couple of people with a grounding in the music of the mid-seventies–nobody else has noticed it either.
Which really surprises me. Forty-five years and nobody has noticed that “Take the Money and Run” can be read–heard?–as a lesbian story?
Stop laughing. I’m serious.
Check out the lyrics.
Every person mentioned in the song is mentioned with a pronoun. Except for one.
“…shot a man while robbing his castle”
“Bobbie Sue…she slipped away”
“Billy Mack…he knows just exactly what the facts is”
But Billy Joe is always referenced by name. The song wouldn’t change an iota if their name was spelled “Billie Jo”.
Still think I’m crazy?
Okay, maybe I am. Granted, certainly, Steve Miller isn’t noted for being the most socially activist musician out there. Not now, not back in the mid-seventies.
But, still, I can’t help picturing some record company executive taking a look at a proof of the lyric sheet for the Fly Like an Eagle album and choking. “Stevie-baby. Love the album, but this one song? Just can’t do it. Two chicks in love? Totally kill sales in the Midwest. Look, just make one of them a guy. Whatdya say?”
Perhaps that’s overblown. Heck, maybe Mr. Miller himself didn’t realize the implications of his lyrics–there’s a well-known story that when author Isaac Asimov confronted a critic over his interpretation of one of Asimov’s stories, the critic replied, “What do you know? You’re only the author.”
Still, as a writer, I’d like to think Steve Miller’s been slipping this bit of (none-too-effective) subversion past listeners for more than four decades. Fiction is far more fun than boring Reality.