Music Article

Dunn's Deal

Holly Dunn's controversial single -- The country star asks stations to remove ''Maybe I Mean Yes'' from rotation

The two fax machines at Warner Bros.' Nashville office have been frantically buzzing lately as 203 radio stations and 70 TV stations around the nation were sent country singer Holly Dunn's unusual request — a letter asking them to stop playing her single, ''Maybe I Mean Yes.'' This promotion reversal occurred after radio listeners, women's groups, and rape crisis centers objected to the song's chorus, which appears to justify date rape: ''Nothin's worth having if it ain't a little hard to get/ So let me clarify so you won't have to try and guess/ When I say 'no' I mean 'maybe,' or maybe I mean 'yes.'''

Perhaps disingenuously, Dunn, 33, a self-described feminist, says her lyrics were meant to refer to accepting a date, not sex, but when she heard the complaints she pulled the plug on her single. Of the 134 stations that were playing the song when the letter went out, 59 continue to air it; three others have added it to their repertoire. One, WUBE in Cincinnati, conducted a listeners' poll. ''We took well over 100 phone calls, and 90 percent asked us to continue playing the song,'' says program director Tim Closson. ''And of the responses, 70 percent were female.''

Cynics are quick to note that Dunn's noble sacrifice has reaped a lot of attention for a somewhat obscure singer. ''I don't think it was a publicity thing,'' says Michael O'Malley, program director of New York's WYNY, which stopped playing the song. ''But if it was, it was a heck of a great idea.'' Dunn is aware of the accusation, which she denies. ''In some ways this is the best thing that could have happened to me,'' she concedes. ''But it's not exactly the way I would have wanted to get press. I don't like trading in other people's misery.''

Originally posted Aug 16, 1991 Published in issue #79 Aug 16, 1991 Order article reprints