How Jeannie C. Riley's 'Harper Valley P.T.A.' Socked It To Authority
In August 1968, country singer Jeannie C. Riley scored a number-one hit with "Harper Valley P.T.A.," a song on an unlikely subject: the parent-teacher association in a small town. The song tells a story of "Mrs. Johnson," a single mother being harassed by a prudish and hypocritical P.T.A., and her decision to give her tormentors a taste of their own medicine. The second half of the song is the mother's scathing critique of the P.T.A. members, a beatdown the daughter (who is the narrator) recalls as "the day my momma socked it to the Harper Valley P.T.A."
The song was a sensation, and earned Jeannie C. Riley her own variety show, Harper Valley U.S.A. -- and the song's story was later the basis of a movie and a network TV sitcom.