It’s not often I come out and take a hard line on a subject being someone who likes to get all sides of the argument and then think it all through from what I hope is an unprejudiced wholly objective viewpoint: the helicopter as opposed to the worm’s eye view. But on one matter my mind was made up ‘pretty darn quick’, that moment of revelation coming in Tennessee whilst listening to radio station WKDF on 103.3FM out of Nashville when some poor misplaced hillbilly sang “Get your biscuits in the oven and your buns in the bed”.
Puh-Leeze! It didn’t make me slam on the brakes, rip the radio from the dash, throw it onto the highway and drive over it several times. It was more of a ‘C’mon America you can do better than that’.
Perhaps I need to explain before I get to the real meat on the bone that I love music of pretty much any type, and that anything will get some ear-time in this homo sapien for as long as it takes to make a judgement call of the accept or reject variety. It is not country music per se that really plumbs the depths as lot of the music itself is actually pretty pleasing to the ear, guitars, banjos and violins often played with high levels of skill and at a tempo that can get those feet a tappin’ It is the lyrics that truly drag it down to the most lamentable level. The saccharine boy meets girl, falls in love, have some kids and settle down in a clapperboard unit are dreadful enough. But they have to over-egg the omelette – big time. For example “All the sailors give her a chase, cause they love her naval base” (Do I hear anybody sniggering, c’mon be honest now). Sexist and demeaning seems to be a prime requirement to get your alligator skin boot in the country door.
Then there’s the ‘it’s OK to be dumb’ lines and I don’t mean misinformed or ignorant of the facts, no I mean truly proud to be stupid with a capital S-T-U-P-I-D. And I quote “The Declaration of Independence, think I could tell you that first sentence, but then I’m lost”. Whoa there Dwayne, the founding fathers must be a weepin’. Not to mention the present incumbent with “I often listen to CNN but I still can’t tell the difference between Iraq and Iran”.
And talking of the US Presidents, both past and present, we have to cause them further twisting in their graves by moving on to the issue of misguided patriotism of an overly zealous and unfortunately truer than we’d like sentiment in the line “We’ll put a boot up your ass, it’s the American way”. That’ll improve international relations a whole lot – not that this music gets much airtime outside the Redneck Belt.
Next up comes the ‘what makes me a true blooded son of the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave’. In short, I own a huge gas-guzzler of a truck to pull the boat I keep out in the yard and the various assault and hand held weapons I need to protect me from ‘dem crazy folk out dere who wanna take over ma cuntree’. What hick poet dreamt up these inspiring lines “I got me a boat to float, and a big truck to pull it, I got me an AR-15 and some silver bullets”. The Founding Fathers aren’t merely spinning in their graves, they must be whirling.
And last but not least we have to summon big daddy, the kid and spooky: father, son and holy ghost themselves for their huge contribution to the body of work that is country music lyrics. Let’s start with “Jesus is my friend and America is my home”. That can be summarised as ‘my skin is white, I’ve got a gun in my truck and I frequently vote against my own economic interests’. And, keeping the best until last, I will leave you with this. A personal favourite in the canon of drivel laden country lyrics, almost so bad that it’s good: “Straight through the heart of them righteous uprights, drop kick me Jesus through the goalposts of life”.
Amen to that and god help America.
Postscript: For the record I would like to state that I’m a big fan of the ‘Man in Black’, the late great Johnnie Cash.