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Your Cheatin' Heart

Friday, July 10, 2009

In politics, an extra-marital affair can jeopardize a career. But in music, cheating is the subject of some of the most popular songs ever, from Marvin Gaye’s "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" to the Eagles' "Lyin' Eyes" to TLC's "Creep." (Don't get us started on operas. OK, do.) We look at some of the best, with Washington Post classical music critic Anne Midgette and WNYC cultural reporter Siddhartha Mitter. Plus, we take your calls (anonymously, if you wish).

Tell us: What's your favorite "cheating song"? Why? Leave a comment.


Anne Midgette and Siddhartha Mitter

Comments [90]

K from NYC

Skyy - Call Me

Jul. 10 2009 10:14 PM
Ted from Glen Ridge, NJ

"Cheated Hearts" by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Cheated by
The opposite of love
Held on high
From up up up above
Kept my high
From the second one
Kept my eye
On the first one

Now take these rings
And stow them safe away
I'll wear them on
Another rainy day
Take these rings
And stow them safe away
I'll wear them on
Another rainy day

Well I'm
Taka-taka-taka-taka-takin' it off
And she's
Taka-taka-taka-taka-takin' it off
And he's
Taka-taka-taka-taka-takin' it off
And we're
Taka-taka-taka-taka-takin' it off

I think that I'm bigger
Than the sound
I think that I'm bigger
Than the sound
I think that I'm bigger
than the sound
I think that I'm bigger
Than the sound

She'll take on high
She'll take on high


Jul. 10 2009 07:56 PM
Kate from Nicaragua for a while

How about some pop? latin music? These are the ones that come to mind:

Shaggy, "It wasn't me" Poppy and oh so graphic!
(She saw the marks on my shoulder (It wasn't me) Heard the words that I told her (It wasn't me) Heard the scream get louder (It wasn't me)
She stayed until it was over)

These two play out the scenario of cheating with you're best friend's partner, from the perspectives of the two friends (both are duets):

- Aventura ft. Don Omar "Ella y Yo" (Can't get much bigger than these two in latin music right now.)
"Let god forgive you because I won't, I lost both of you at once... "Forgive me"... "Goodbye!"

- La Factoria "Amiga"
"Friends don't betray you, don't do you harm"... "friends forgive, friends give each other another chance"

Jul. 10 2009 06:51 PM
Lee from Brooklyn

I am surprised no one listed Rufus' "Sweet Thing." Perhaps the most widely known Chaka Khan vocal ever.

Jul. 10 2009 03:02 PM
david from Brooklyn

Two immediately come to mind:

"Run For Your Life" by the Beatles ("Catch you with another man and that's the end / little girl" (!))

"Come Back From San Francisco" by the Magnetic Fields

Jul. 10 2009 02:58 PM
Soundcheck producer Joel Meyer from New York, NY

A few strays that wandered over to our page for today's appearance by the Choir of Christ's College, Cambridge:

Matt from LIC, Queens
The Allman Bros. Band's rendition of "One Way Out" from their classic Live at the Fillmore East album has to be my favorite.

A. Mcnamara from Elizabeth, NJ:

OH I LOVE that version of "If Loving you is wrong" that was fabulous! The line "Your mama and daddy say it's a shame, it's a downright disgrace. Long as I got you by my side I don't care what your people say". That is so REAL. That is NOT cheesey. Rappers looking to "keep it real" should look to lines like this.

Sonia from Brooklyn
Maddox brothers and rRose: wish i was a single girl again. love it!

Jul. 10 2009 02:56 PM
Soundcheck producer Joel Meyer from New York, NY

Great ideas, all! We're not keeping score, but Dolly Parton's "Jolene" appears to be at or near the top. What is it about this song? Is it the desperate woman at the heart of the song? Is it Dolly's voice? Or ... is it because it's a cheating song you can kind of dance to?

Thanks to:
Beth [6], Ted [55], Jenn [58], Jean [61]

Jul. 10 2009 02:52 PM
julian from nj

"saint louis women "by louis armstrong and velma milron .she said that she like her men like a school boy likes its teacher and he repply "louis armstrong" i m goig to rip a piquet fence and wip you all over your head until lay on the sand and the blood all over your body. I love the sound I never pay attention on the liric and latter pay attention on it then I notice how violente the song is

Jul. 10 2009 02:52 PM
June O'Neill from Westchester, NY

"Guess Who I Saw Today" (Nancy Wilson), "What'll I Tell My Heart" (Dinah Washington), " Jolene" (Dolly Parton), "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Heats" (Dylan),also "Lily of the West", "Long Black Veil", "Tennessee Waltz"

Jul. 10 2009 02:46 PM
Joseph Pobereskin from Chicago IL

Third-Rate Romance, Low-Rent Rendezvous
The Amazing Rhythm Aces

Stranger In The House
Elvis Costello

You Can't Do That
The Beatles

The Spider And The Fly
The Rolling Stones

there's so many more

Jul. 10 2009 02:45 PM

How about Stevie Wonder's Lately". I love it because it is so heartbreaking and such a beautiful song.

Jul. 10 2009 02:40 PM
sam from astoria

revenge songs, lethal:
"Pardon Me, I've Got Someone to Kill" by Johnny Paycheck. Love that one.
"I know I'll surely die for what I'm about to do/
but it don't matter/
I'm a dead man anyhow./
This gun will buy back the pride/
they took from me/
and also end this life of mine/
that's worthless now."

Jul. 10 2009 02:39 PM
laura from bronx

I love the Pina Colada song. Again, a double cheating song, sort of. You can enjoy the affair without the guilt since they turn out to be married to each other.

Jul. 10 2009 02:39 PM
Uptowner from Inwood, Manhattan

Reba McEntire has TONS of cheating songs:

Whoever's in New England
Does He Love You
You Lie
Rumor Has It
For My Broken Heart
and many, many more!

Also, The Nights the Lights Went Out In Georgia.

Jul. 10 2009 02:39 PM

How about Stevie Wonders "Lately". I love it because it is so heartbreaking and such a beautiful song

Jul. 10 2009 02:38 PM
Marie from Pittsburgh

Justin Timberlake - Cry me a river

Jul. 10 2009 02:36 PM
Stephanie T. from New Jersey

Another vote for "Right Next Door (Because of Me)" by the Robert Cray Band. Great song, poignant story.

Jul. 10 2009 02:36 PM

Cheatin' by Gin Blossoms

Well she was tall hair dark as midnight
She had a way just like you do
To make me feel just like a woman should
You can't call it cheatin'
Cause she reminds me of you...

Jul. 10 2009 02:36 PM
Stephen Kaldon from NYC

"Wandering Eye" by the Crazy Pages. Great shuffle and energy in a garage band style. The author owns up to his cheating and tells it straight up!

I was born with a wandering eye
I’m in trouble don’t you ask me why
If she’s mean and kind of cold
I’ll follow her with a bag of gold

Give it away, wind up alone
I’ve got a wandering eye and a bag of bones

I got a wandering eye
I got a wandering eye
I got a wandering eye

I know what’s good for me girls, do you know what’s good for you?

My daddy left home, I was fifteen
A brand new mama made the scene
Girls, girls, girls
I‘m on my own
Come on over, don’t you stay too long

I can’t be good,
Am I makin’ myself understood?

I got a wandering eye
I got a wandering eye
I got a wandering eye

I can’t be good,
Am I makin’ myself understood?

I got a wandering eye
I got a wandering eye
I got a wandering eye

I know it’s good for me ya’ll,
do ya know what’s good for you?
I said a hey, hey
Do ya know?
Hey, hey
Do ya know?

I got a wandering eye
I got a wandering eye
I got a wandering eye

Jul. 10 2009 02:35 PM
K Robin

One of my favorites Johnny Hates Jazz- Shattered Dreams. I like the feel of the music combine with vocals.

Jul. 10 2009 02:34 PM
Tyreen Reuter from Metuchen, NJ

"Long Black Veil" - almost anyone's version of it... such a great song.

"The Judge said son, what is your alibi,
if you were somewhere else, then you won't have to die.
I spoke not a word, though it meant my life,
for i'd been in the arms of my best friends wife."

Jul. 10 2009 02:34 PM
Cassandra Pappas from Hoboken, NJ

Best song about cheating is Iris Dement and John Prine "Let's Invite Them Over Again"--about a couple who both want to cheat with another couple despite their best efforts to avoid it.

Jul. 10 2009 02:34 PM
the truth from bkny

Maybe next time he will think "Before He Cheats" Carrie Underwood

Jul. 10 2009 02:34 PM
Bill from New York

Greg Brown's "If You Don't Get It at Home You're Gonna Go Lookin', from his CD, "Further In".

A little obscure, maybe, but not to be missed.

Jul. 10 2009 02:33 PM
Thalia from brooklyn

The Ballad in Spanish by PImpinela about a wife going off with husband's best friend & years later returning to her husband. The men inform each other of who the woman is with.

Jul. 10 2009 02:33 PM
Sandra from Astoria, Queens

I've always loved Leonard Cohen's "Famous Blue Raincoat"--this line kills me everytime:

"you treated my woman to a flake of your life/and when she came back she was nobody's wife."

Jul. 10 2009 02:31 PM
Keith from Ossining

How about Sinatra don't you go away mad.

Jul. 10 2009 02:31 PM
thomas from brooklyn

you can't ignore R. Kelly's "trapped in the closet" which presents us with an entire operatic song cycle revolving around infidelity...

Jul. 10 2009 02:31 PM
Ramsey from Manhattan

"I Will Survive" - G. Gaynor

Jul. 10 2009 02:30 PM
Jean from Brooklyn

"Jolene" by Dolly Parton is probably the only Dolly Parton song I like, and I love it.

There's something so true about the insecurity of a woman feeling intimidated by the beauty of another woman, as she begs him "please don't take my man."

Jul. 10 2009 02:30 PM
Thalia from brooklyn

Spanish song by Pimpinela, about a woman who leaves her husband with her husband's best friend & the husband can't figure out who she has left him for so the best friend has to tell him in a bar...& then some years later the wife returns to her husband & the husband gets to tell the best friend. Full circle. It is done like a ballad

Jul. 10 2009 02:30 PM
Doris Mare from NYC

"Guess Who I Saw Today?" from New Faces of 1952. My sister used to play this when I was a little girl and I rember the lyrics to this day!

Jul. 10 2009 02:29 PM
Jenn from Los Angeles

Dolly Parton-Jolene

Jul. 10 2009 02:29 PM
Greg Leshé from Millburn, NJ

If it hasn't come up already, you gotta consider the James Brown Classic, "The Payback"

"Get down with my girlfriend...that ain't right"

"I don't know Karate but I know Karazor"

Love the show always

Jul. 10 2009 02:29 PM
Leon from Bronx, NY

One of my favorite cheating songs is Smokey Robinson's "Silent Partner in a three way love affair."

Jul. 10 2009 02:29 PM
ted guidotti from brooklyn

my frustration continued to rise waiting for someone to mention my favorite: hey joe. i was felt vindicated when mr shaffer finally chimed in.

another great cheating song is "jolene" by dolly parton. it's an immediate and heartfelt plea not to "take him just because you can".

Jul. 10 2009 02:28 PM

Leonard Cohen's "Famous Blue Raincoat" is so very intense

Jul. 10 2009 02:28 PM
sam from astoria

My favorite: "Hell Yes, I Cheated" by Johnny Adams. Classic lyric: "She gave me something that was missing at home."

Jul. 10 2009 02:28 PM
RAKEEM from Newark, NJ

Secret Lovers - Atlantic Starr

Lyrics go:

We both know that we should not be together
‘Cause if we’re found out, it could mess up
Both our happy homes

Jul. 10 2009 02:28 PM
Liz from Brooklyn

Joleyne by Dolly Parton

Jul. 10 2009 02:28 PM
Vic from Chester, NJ

For better or worse...check out, Joe Jackson's,(I'M THE MAN)
"Geraldine and John"

Jul. 10 2009 02:28 PM
Liz from Brooklyn

Loretta Lynn- Fist City

Jul. 10 2009 02:27 PM
Steve from Brooklyn

The late Ted Hawkins' HAPPY HOUR, from his album of the same name. Hawkins voice had so much soul and heartbreak in every note, I challenge you to listen to this --possibly country-origined-- tune and not feel every painful twinge along with the narrator.

Jul. 10 2009 02:27 PM
Ken Campbell from Harlem

Bill Withers' song, "Who Is He?" is the best I can think of.

Jul. 10 2009 02:26 PM
Maria Nazzoli from Harlem

Love the One You're With - Aretha's is my fav
My dad used to sing to my mom "you only hurt the one you love"

Jul. 10 2009 02:26 PM
Maria Nazzoli from Harlem

Love the One You're With - Aretha's is my fav
My dad used to sing to my mom "you only hurt the one you love"

Jul. 10 2009 02:26 PM
ed jaworski from brooklyn, ny

Since i was a teen during the 1950s, I've got to add Dion's "Run around Sue." Good beat, rythm, harmony, dance tune.

Jul. 10 2009 02:25 PM

ray parker junior - I'm in Love with the Other Woman.

Jul. 10 2009 02:25 PM
Iris Tamarez from NYC

My favorite cheating son is unfaithfull by Rhiana. Because its a sexy yet sad song

Jul. 10 2009 02:25 PM
A from Brooklyn

"If you can't be with the one you love, Honey, love the one you're with" has always been a refreshing, comforting lyric for me. I suspect this song isn't actually about cheating, but that's what it means to me, as my wife goes on her frequent long work trips. The need to love and be loved doesn't go on hiatus.

Jul. 10 2009 02:25 PM
Steve from Austin, TX

Bruce Springsteen's "Brilliant Disguise" from Tunnel of Love. A song really about insecurity and the fear of a partner cheating.

Jul. 10 2009 02:25 PM
Caroline from Garrison, NY

We'll Sweep Out the Ashes in the Morning - by Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris

Jul. 10 2009 02:25 PM
RAKEEM from Newark, NJ

I always thought that Atlantic Starr's SECRET LOVERS was a steamy and extremely sneaky song.

Lyrics go...

We both know that we should not be together
‘Cause if we’re found out, it could mess up
Both our happy homes

Jul. 10 2009 02:25 PM
Sharon from Bronx, NY

Just as I was getting online to vote for "Me and Mrs. Jones," you played it! Yes, that's the best.

Not as good, but still relevant, is Sam & Dave's "Who's making love to your old lady while you was out making love"

Jul. 10 2009 02:25 PM
Konstantin from brooklyn

in the vein of disaster cheating songs.
"long black veil"

Jul. 10 2009 02:25 PM
Mark from Pompton Plains, NJ

"I Want You" by Elvis Costello and the Attractions. Elvis manages to build the tension for over 6 minutes and capture the genuinely heartbroken feeling that all cheatin' songs have, but adds a voyeuristic edge that makes the song stand out. After all, even though the one he loves is cheating, Elvis seems to enjoy poring over every detail, and he still wants her.

Jul. 10 2009 02:24 PM
capper from ny


You have to mention "Your Time is Gonna Come"

Jul. 10 2009 02:24 PM
Wendy Martin from Jackson Heights

How about Miss Otis Regrets by Cole Porter?

Jul. 10 2009 02:24 PM
Joe Boucher from NY, NY

Robert Cray's "Right Next Door (Because Of Me)," the source of the title of his "Strong Persuader" album, is written from the point of view of a man who has seduced his neighbor & is listening to the break up through a shared wall. She was "just another notch on his guitar." He wasn't expecting to care but now he's listening "in silent shame." "She's gonna lose the man that really loves her... I should go to her but what would I say." The strong persuader is wracked by an unexpected conscience. Interesting perspective, terrific song, & great performance.

Jul. 10 2009 02:24 PM
Ciesse from Manhattan

What about that grand epic of almost undiagrammably myriad infidelities, R. Kelly's 'In the Closet'?

Jul. 10 2009 02:23 PM
Liz from Brooklyn

Part-time lover by Stevie Wonder!!!

Jul. 10 2009 02:23 PM
Deana (Dina) from Brooklyn

I am a child of the 80's

Secret Lovers - Atlantic Starr

Jul. 10 2009 02:23 PM
PM from NYC

ACE...How long, has this been going on?

Jul. 10 2009 02:23 PM
mattt from lic, queens

The Allman Bros. Band's rendition of "One Way Out" from their classic Live at the Fillmore East album. An anthem for "the other men" everywhere.

Jul. 10 2009 02:23 PM
lucy taylor from manhattan

Yes; Lately by Stevie Wonder. Hairbrush microphone worthy.

Jul. 10 2009 02:22 PM
Meg Goldman from Manhattan

Norwegian Wood
John Lennon himself said this was a song he wrote about an affair he had while married to Cynthia Lennon

Jul. 10 2009 02:22 PM


"you make me wanna leave the one I'm with, start a new relationship with you...."

Jul. 10 2009 02:22 PM
Noah from Brooklyn


Jul. 10 2009 02:21 PM
rima from nyc

two favorites:
1. I'm in love with the other woman, by Ray Parker Junior (i know, it's cheezy)
2. On the other hand, by Randy Travis

Jul. 10 2009 02:20 PM
capper from ny

sorry, not babe, I'm gonna leave you,

I meant:


Jul. 10 2009 02:19 PM
Jason Victor from CT

I'm glad i thought of it, but a very circuitous song about infidelity is one by Chicago, "If She Would Have Been Faithful".

The man is singing initially about how he was devastated at his previous girlfriends infidelity. Since, he is happier now with this new woman, he is grateful at his previous loss. It is only b/c of his previous girlfriend's indiscretion that he was able to have met this better woman.

So in the end he's quite glad she was unfaithful to him and wants to thank her.

It had to believe it is all summed up in the chorus.

If she would have been faithful
If she could have been true
Then I would've been cheated
I would never know real love
I would've missed out on you

Hope you enjoy this contribution;


Jul. 10 2009 02:17 PM
AR from brooklyn

How about songs about confronting the other woman or other man. My favorite: Woman to Woman by soul singer Shirley Brown.

Check out these lyrics:

"Woman To Woman"
Shirley Brown

Hello, may I speak to Barbara
Barbara, this is Shirley
You might not know who I am
But the reason I am calling you is because
I was going through my
Old man`s pockets this morning
And I just happened to find your name and number

So woman to woman
I don`t think it`s being anymore than fair
To call you and let you know
Where I`m coming from

Now Barbara
I don`t know how you`re gonna take this
But whether you be cool
Or come out of a bag on me
You see it doesn`t really make any difference

But it`s only fair that I let you know that
The man you`re in love with
He's mine

From the top of his head
To the bottom of his feet
The bed he sleeps in
And every piece of food he eats

You see, I make it possible
The clothes on his back
Ha ha, I buy them
The car he drives
I pay the note every month

So I`m telling you these things
To let you know how much I love that man
And woman to woman
I think you`ll understand
How much I`ll do to keep him

Woman to woman
If you`ve ever been in love
Then you know how I feel
And woman to woman
Now, if you were in my shoes
Wouldn`t you have done the same thing too

Jul. 10 2009 02:17 PM

"The Gypsy's Wife" (and many others) by Leonard Cohen... haunting, poetic, beautiful

Jul. 10 2009 02:17 PM
Fab from Brooklyn, NY

Bill - Peggy Scott Adams
The Rain - Oran Juice Jones
Secret Lovers - Atlantic Starr
As We Lay - Shirley Murdock

Jul. 10 2009 02:17 PM
Adrienne from NYC

I'm with #8: Me and Mrs. Jones is the sexiest cheatin' song. It's more of a Sanford-esque affair of real love, not a quickie.

Jul. 10 2009 02:16 PM
capper from ny

CLASSIC LED ZEPPLIN version of ---

Which I think was written by Anne Bredon. Is this correct?

Jul. 10 2009 02:16 PM
Melissa from Crown Heights

"Lately" by Stevie Wonder. I cried the first time I heard it. Sooooo sad.

Jul. 10 2009 02:15 PM
Ellen from CT

Another great one is Oran "Juice" Jones - The Rain

Jul. 10 2009 02:13 PM
sam from astoria

hope you close with James Brown's killer version of "Your Cheatin' Heart!"

Jul. 10 2009 02:09 PM
Ellen from CT

My 2 latest favs. Crystal Gayles Don't it turn my brown eyes blue and What kind of fool by Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb.

Jul. 10 2009 02:09 PM
Theo Lane from Queens, NY

Definitely the Pina Colada song... since they are both cheating, but in the end - it's with each other.

Jul. 10 2009 02:09 PM
stu in nyc

the old doo-wop song "You Cheated, You Lied" by the Shields

Jul. 10 2009 10:57 AM
Allay I. from Tokyo, Japan

"Me And Mrs. Jones" by BILLY PAUL.

Oooh! It should have not be allowed to exist!
How come cheating song is sooooo sweeeet like this...I LOVE the song though.

Jul. 10 2009 09:01 AM

"Another Man" by Barbara Mason. A jilted woman sings about a man who is cheating on her--with another man.

In hindsight, the lyrics are a bit crass and stereotypical. But, I can't recall any other songs that dealt with the subject of men on the "down-lo."

Oh, and it had a good beat!

Jul. 09 2009 10:54 PM
beth from irvington, ny

"Back Door Man", Howling Wolf (written by Willie Dixon gives you the cocky male point of view while Dolly Parton's "Jolene" takes you to the tortured female standpoint. You choose!

Jul. 09 2009 07:44 PM
zpward from NJ

Yesterday and Today's both cases they've been caught and are wishing they could undo the damage.

"Tempted" -- Squeeze

"Don't Lie" -- Black Eyed Peas

Jul. 09 2009 04:47 PM
Shorty from NYC

Pre-cheat: "Don't Cha," Pussycat Dolls

Post-cheat: "We're Going to Be Friends," White Stripes

General: "Me and Mrs. Jones," Billy Paul

Am I giving away too much...?

Jul. 09 2009 02:51 PM
carly noble from bend, or

Lyle Lovett's God Will

Who keeps on trusting you
When you've been cheating
And spending your nights on the town
And who keeps on saying that he still wants you
When you're through running around
And who keeps on loving you
When you've been lying
Saying things ain't what they seem
God does
But I don't
God will
But I won't
And that's the difference
Between God and me

Jul. 09 2009 12:49 PM
Dan Vo from Melbourne, Australia

My Australian contribution would have to be "Into Temptation" as sung by Renée Geyer and originally performed by Crowded House. That song haunts me!

Jul. 09 2009 12:29 PM

"Suspicious Minds" by Elvis Presley. And "Your Cheating Heart" by Hank Williams- it's been covered by a million singers, but I like Patsy Cline's version the best.

Jul. 09 2009 12:20 PM

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