Thursday, January 8, 2009

Sad Ass Country Songs

The other day I happened across Red Sovine's Teddy Bear on the radio. I didn't know what it was at first, but clocked it as circa 1975 because it was all about CB radios - had "Breaker 1-9" in it and so forth. It was so sad in that over-the-top-1970s-country way it made me laugh:

"Now, I'm not supposed to bother you fellows out there
Mom says you're busy and for me to stay off the air

But you see, I get lonely and it helps to talk
'Cause that's about all I can do, I'm crippled, and, I can't walk!"
I came back and told him to fire up that mike
And I'd talk to 'im, as long as he liked

"This was my dad's radio", the little boy said
"But I guess it's mine and mom's now, 'cause my daddy's dead!"
"Dad had a wreck about a month ago
He was trying to get home in a blindin' snow

Mom has to work now, to make ends meet
And I'm not much help, with my two crippled feet!"

I just assumed it was playing on one of the college stations; that some fringeboy DJ was trying to show off how eclectic he is. But soon I heard that it was indeed a country station. Good to know that country stations are capable of a little variety.

Though I was a big John Denver and Statler Brothers fan in my early childhood, I soon became vehemently anti-country. I got tired of all that whiney stuff. I wanted Dolly Parton to stop simpering and take a shotgun to Jolene and her man too - to hell with both of them. In middle school Alabama was played to saturation levels at every school dance. I rebelled and started buying ABBA and Queen records; decided Country fans were losers. Swore to never again own a pair of cowboy boots.

In my adulthood I became a fan of alt country people like Joe Ely, Ryan Adams, Neko Case, Lyle Lovett, and the Be Good Tanyas, people that true redneck country fans turn their noses up at and who you only hear on college stations. College radio is how I finally got acquainted with Johnny Cash, a man with a proper sense of humor. He might sing about sad stuff occasionally but he did it without any whine.

It seemed like there was a conspiracy to keep all the cool country stars off commercial radio. The Dixie Chicks won me over with "Earl Had To Die" - wasn't an ounce of whine in that song - but then they went and got themselves shithoused for publicly complaining about the war, something that I thought was pretty cool. It was like the Country music world decided "Alright, girls, you're too cool for us now. The appropriate thing to do is go to war, or date a soldier, and later write some songs so you can whine about how you suffered. If you survive. And if the president tells you to jump off a cliff and create a hellish mess for civilians at the bottom, don't question it." I don't get country fans.

Here recently Wyatt borrowed some equipment to allow him to convert records to CD. I look forward to listening to the Statler Brothers and John Denver records again and seeing how they sound now. I think country still mostly sucks at this point but if the Sex Pistols and The Clash had somehow made themselves part of the country genre it might not. But then again, they'd probably never have been heard. Country fans seem to prefer whiney drivel that all sounds the same.


Tuesday Kid said...

I suppose every genre has it's themes as well as sounds, like most hip hop has to be about bitches or guns, when it really shouldn't have to be.

I don't listen to much country myself, but I've recently heard some Gram Parsons and think he's pretty good.

verona said...

Yeah I guess that's so. But it would really interesting if like for six months or so the hip hop folks started rhyming about tragedy and heartache and the country folks started singing about bitches and guns.

People need a little variety.

Captain Smack said...

My brain is sort of a music database, the more obscure the better. This particular song is definitely in the top five All Time Most Maudlin, Sugary Sweet, Overly Sentimental Country Songs Ever. There is a country radio station here that plays mostly 70's country, and this one gets played occasionally. Tom Waits does a cover of another Red Sovine tune called "Big Joe & Phantom 309" (another trucker song), which is great when Waits does it (of course).

I found myself pretty much agreeing with you about everything you said. Modern country suuuuucks, give me the 70's outlaw/highwaymen stuff any day.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Red didn't just sing songs about crippled orphans. He also sang about womanizing and driving trucks while high on speed:

Chasing skirts and operating highly dangerous machinery while under the influence? If that be country, give me more of it!

verona said...

Okay I just checked out that link - without his voice, that Truck Drivin Son of a Gun song sounds like the theme from Sesame Street in the early 70s.