Old Country for Bald Men

Back when I was a kid growing up at home, our family were serenaded, often against our will, by a neighbour who fancied himself as a bit of a country & western singer. He would sit in his garden, strumming the chords of some Charlie Rich song, and sing the words to a Hank Williams number, usually at the same time, much to the amusement of small children and large dogs in the area. He was persistent but rarely pitch-perfect. I guess I have to thank him for my life-long appreciation of Johnny Cash, and for my father buying me a clarinet in an attempt to get his own back.

I only mention this because a friend just sent me yet another list of The Best of the Worst Country and Western Song Titles. We’ve all seen these before, but it’s worth going though them again, if only for old times’ sake.

There are the lovely relationship songs, with such beautiful titles as “I’m so Miserable Without you, it’s like Having you Here”; “Get your Tongue outta my Mouth ’cause I’m Kissing you Goodbye”; “How can I Miss you if you Won’t go Away?” and the mournful “I keep Forgettin’ I Forgot about you”

There’re the funny ones, such as “You Can’t Have Your Kate And Edith Too”; “You’re The Reason Our Kids Are So Ugly”; “If The Phone Doesn’t Ring, It’s Me” and of course “You Done Tore Out My Heart And Stomped That Sucker Flat”

And then there’s downright bizarre titles such as “I Don’t Know Whether To Kill Myself Or Go Bowling”; “I Wanna Whip Your Cow”; “Mama Get The Hammer (There’s A Fly On Papa’s Head)” and the ever popular “I’ve Got Hair Oil On My Ears And My Glasses Are Slipping Down, But Baby I Can See Through You”. All timeless classics.

These lists never seem to come with any info as to who sang what and when, and I’ve always been suspicious of their authenticity. But the web being the web, you can find out all sorts of things if you really want to, and have the odd six weeks on your hands.

I have managed to find out that three of these numbers were recorded by a guy called Bobby Bare. Dear old Bobby is (or was) a country singer born in Ohio in 1935, and is the father of the imaginatively named Bobby Bare Jnr. In his time he was known as “The Springsteen of Country Music”, but I now know him as the artist who recorded such gems as “Look who I’m cheatin’ on tonight”; “I’ve never gone to bed with an ugly women (But I’ve sure woke up with a few.)” and the immortal “Drop kick me Jesus through the goalposts of life”.

No other genre of music has the capacity or feels the need to deliver such wonderful song titles, and take so much stick for doing so. Me ? I love it, and as I enter my dotage I find myself downloading more and more. It’s probably an age thing, but I find the lyrics mean more to me than they ever did when I sat as a kid on the back step, with my hands over my ears, trying to drown out the sound the bloke next door. I wish I’d listen to more then, but thanks to Youtube and Itunes I’m gradually rediscovering all those long lost favourites.

And it’s not just me. I have friends who’d leave a bar and walk for miles across muddy fields just to listen to great music. So for Dave, Kevin, Rita, and music lovers everywhere, this one’s for you.


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