Whatever ails you, country understands

Categorized as 09/07/09 Goshen News column

Here in America, we love our music, don’t we? From coast to coast and all points in between, the hills, valleys, and plains are alive with the sound of it.

It’s a veritable smorgasbord here in the land of the free and the home of the brave. We’ve got everything from rock ‘n roll to country western to rap. Then there’s pop, Southern gospel, and jazz in addition to bluegrass, contemporary Christian, and Motown. If you like it, we’ve got it.

For many Americans, country western is their music of choice. It’s an emotional genre, full of heartbreak and loss, the ecstasy of love, and the importance of one’s tractor in one’s life. There’s an old joke that goes, “What do you get when you play a country song backward? You get your wife, your ring, your house, and your truck back.” And that’s just about it.

If there were an award for the most interesting song titles among the genres, country music would win it going away. Out of curiosity, I did some research on this topic this week. I cannot personally verify that each one of these is the real title of an actual song, but since I got them off the internet, it must be true. Uh-huh.

At any rate, it was quite entertaining to look over the lists I found. Even the titles convey deep emotions, like the agony of rejection and of love gone wrong. There is bitterness and anger. There is low self-esteem with plenty of blame to go around. There is uncertainty and confusion, leaving one wondering if the song writer had a few too many. With a title like “How Can You Believe Me When I Say I Love You When You Know I’ve Been a Liar All My Life,” what else can you conclude?

“I Would Have Writ You a Letter, But I Couldn’t Spell Yuck” certainly carries a hint of resentment. So does “I Wouldn’t Take Her to a Dawg Fight ‘Cause I’m Afraid She’d Win.” Someone’s been hurt.

“You Done Tore Out My Heart and Stomped That Sucker Flat” continues that theme. Follow that with “You Stuck My Heart in an Old Tin Can and Shot It Off a Log,” and the pain is palpable.

If a song like “I Gave Her My Heart and a Diamond and She Clubbed Me With a Spade” doesn’t move you to tears, maybe this one will, “My John Deere Was Breaking Your Field While Your ‘Dear John’ Was Breaking My Heart.” Still nothing? Then you’ve got a cold, cold heart.

I’m sure that “When You Wrapped My Lunch in a Road Map, I Knew You Meant Goodbye” is a heartbreaker. And how about “Walk Out Backwards Slowly So I’ll Think You’re Walking In?” Surely you’re feeling this.

Or have you heard the song about the fellow who was standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona, with seven women on his mind? If those women are Grandma Alice, Aunt Marsha, three cousins, a sister, and his wife, then you think, “Bless that guy. He loves his family.” If, however, none of those names belong to any family members, then you can see how it could give rise to another song entitled, “I Still Miss You, Baby, But My Aim is Getting Better.” This would be followed by “If the Phone Doesn’t Ring, It’s Me” from his angry spouse.

Sure, this is all hypothetical, but it happens, doesn’t it? These are real life issues we’re singing about here. How nice to know that whatever you’re feeling, there’s a song to fit. After all, wouldn’t you feel like hurting him back by singing “You’re the Reason Our Kids Are So Ugly” if you’d just been jilted, hmm?

It’s no surprise that he might fire back with his own rendition of “The Next Time You Throw That Fryin’ Pan, My Face Ain’t Gonna Be There,” but hey. The guy’s hurting, too. Guys like that just have to learn the hard way that “You Can’t Have Your Kate and Edith, Too.”

Then you have what is likely teenage angst portrayed in the song, “They May Put Me in Prison, But They Can’t Stop My Face From Breakin’ Out.” Yes, that’s a tough time of life to which we can all relate. There’s something for everyone here, folks.

Hopefully this next one isn’t representative of all cowboys, because it’s pretty unfeeling if you ask me: “Don’t Cry On My Shoulders ‘Cause You’re Rustin’ My Spurs.” That’s never gonna get the girl. She’s looking for something much more romantic, something along the lines of “Her Teeth Were Stained, But Her Heart Was Pure.”

Lastly, some numbers hint at tragedy, like the one entitled “If She Hadn’t Been So Good Lookin’, I Might Have Seen the Train.” Uh-oh. There’s a story there, I’m pretty sure.

I tell you all this to say, if your own private forecast is “achy” with a 50% chance of “breaky,” then tune in to your local radio station post haste. Maybe they’ll be playing “I’d Rather Have a Bottle in Front of Me Than a Frontal Lobotomy.” You’ll feel better. I promise.

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