It’s Official – All Country Music is the Same

3 Feb

Well, an awful lot of it is anyway, as brilliantly illustrated by today’s recipient of a platinum performance bonus, Sir Mashalot. But before we get to him and his remarkable video, let’s take a trip in a battered pick-up truck down memory lane.

The year is 1990, or it might have been 1991, and the place is the Sandy Ridge Bar & Grill in Hickory, North Carolina. I used to hang out there quite often in those days, although I always seemed to miss the nights folks got shot. There was a jukebox in the corner and the song that me and my friends listened to most is You Never Even Called Me by My Name by David Allen Coe. Towards the end of the song, Mr. Coe takes a break from singing to tell a little story of how the writer of the song, Steve Goodman, told him that he reckoned that he had written the perfect country and western song. Coe wrote back to him that no, it wasn’t the perfect country and western song because it didn’t say anything at all about momma, or trains or trucks or prison or getting drunk. Goodman replied with the last verse to the song, which you can find at minute 3:05 in the video.

In case you can’t be bothered to listen that far, here’s the verse:

Well, I was drunk the day my mom got out of prison
And I went to pick her up in the rain
But before I could get to the station in my pick-up truck
She got run over by a damned old train

A while later I learned that David Allen Coe was coming to play in Hickory. This was pretty big news, because nobody ever came to play in Hickory. So I snapped up a ticket and turned up at Yesterday’s night club for the evening’s entertainment. It started late and turned out to be more of a brawl than a concert. Coe appeared to be drunk or stoned and had a hard time making it to the end of a song. This being my first time at an event of this type, I thought perhaps this was how country and western concerts were supposed to be. The rest of the audience seemed to share my patience for the most part, perhaps hoping that he might sober up before the end of the evening. However, at last one guy had had enough – or maybe he had an appointment or had just got a call that his wife was about to give birth. Whatever the reason, he rose to leave, leading the incensed balladeer to leap from the stage, displaying surprising agility for one so obese, intoxicated and heavily medallioned, and proceed to administer his own unique brand of response to customer feedback. Or at least he would have, were it not for the intervention of the security guards. This brought the evening’s proceedings to a close.

It is worth noting here that Coe’s other hit was a little number entitled If That Ain’t Country, I’ll Kiss Your Ass, so perhaps the offending spectator had conveyed, whether through body language or maybe an ironically arched eyebrow, that in his opinion, Mr. Coe was not country and the latter was merely attempting to deliver on his promise. If so, I would have to strongly disagree. I have seldom witnessed anything before or since as country as Mr. Coe.

Yesterday’s and the Sandy Ridge Bar are long gone, the latter forced to close by one too many shootings, but the fond memories remain.

But back to Sir Mashalot. Remember him, he’s the one getting the performance bonus for his proof that, unlike in the good old days of David Allen Coe and the Sandy Ridge Bar and Grill, all country songs these days are so formulaicly interchangeable as to actually be the same song, right down to the guitar solos. I’m going to let this amazing Youtube video do the talking.

If that is country, I’ll kiss your ass.



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