L.V. Anderson can't be the only Decemberists fan made uneasy by Meloy's affection for folksy rape:
"Will somebody just yell 'maidenhead'?" he asks the crowd, laughing.
"MAIDENHEAD!" they dutifully roar.
Can we imagine, for a moment, what this song would be like if Meloy hadn't couched it in elaborate language and a pseudo-historical setting? Suppose "A Cautionary Song" were set in a modern-day housing project or a trailer park instead of a 19th-century port city; suppose Meloy asked the crowd to yell "PUSSY!" instead of "MAIDENHEAD!" Do you think The Decemberists would be able to get a crowd of pretentious white indie kids in Portland to cheer and clap for that song?
On a positive note, The King Is Dead is the first Decemberists album to feature no violence against women at all. Progress! [The Awl]