Analyzing The Music Of ‘Fargo’: Emmit Stussy Gets Humbled

05.18.17 1 week ago

FX

Oh no, Nikki Swango! So it ain’t so! So much brother-on-brother crime to process in this week’s episode. What does the music have to tell us about where Fargo stands at the season midpoint? Let’s take a listen!

Song: Mac Davis, “It’s Hard To Be Humble”
Scene: Emmit’s wife watches a fake sex tape.

If you know the name Mac Davis, it’s likely that you grew up listening to pop-country radio and watching network television in the ’70s and early ’80s. A songwriter by trade who got his big break penning a series of hits for post-’68 comeback era Elvis Presley — including “In The Ghetto,” “A Little Less Conversation,” and the underrated tearjerker “Don’t Cry Daddy” — Davis graduated to a successful solo career by specializing in slightly naughty love songs such as “Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me,” “Naughty Girl,” and, ahem, “Baby Spread Your Love On Me.”

The Ron Burgundy-style masculinity of these songs is hard to take seriously now, and maybe it was even then. The premise of 1972’s “Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me” is that Davis is so irresistible that he has to warn women not to fall in love with him. “Just keep it friendly girl ’cause I don’t want to leave,” Davis purrs — this guy can’t help being a total dog, baby, so just hit and quit it for the good of all.

By 1980, Davis was signed to Casablanca Records, the notorious home of Kiss and Donna Summer, and about to enter his self-parody phase. That’s what the winking “It’s Hard To Be Humble” essentially is — it takes the template of “Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me” and adds a dose of self-awareness. Though, seriously, how self-aware can you be when this is your album cover?

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