Sunday, February 1, 2015

For Bear...Somethin' about Momma, Trains, Trucks, Prison, Gettin' Drunk...

David Allan Coe...

I have my issues with Coe. He's prickly, which is alright, and doesn't care about being misunderstood in his writing. That's admirable.

Some of his best work was obviously driven by resentment. He's a songwriting genius....just ask Tanya Tucker, Johnny Paycheck or David Allan Coe...but he's never been embraced by the country establishment. At this point, it's hard to tell who's to blame....put out a stunning record...follow it up with an album featuring your father's corpse on the cover. Maybe he's a genuine Outsider...somebody who wants desperately to be loved and accepted because he knows he never can be.

If That Ain't Country cuts right to it. It's a series of tropes...and a thinly veiled mocking but, it ends with a mini-medley of Country Classics..."I didn't grow up in a tobacco field but, it's not necessary, I really can do this."

Coe is not a Texan. He's not from Nashville...he's not a Southerner at all. He's from Ohio...Akron, f****** Ohio. He spent a lot of his childhood in Michigan juvies...but he wants to make sure you know he "can sing all them songs about Texas." It's also probably got something to do with why he drapes himself in Confederate battle flags and tours a kinda Dixie Minstrel show. Can't say I love that.

Man...he can be brilliant though.


  1. Thank you! I really enjoyed all these songs and will be getting hold of them for myself to file in my 'Country Education' cabinet. He's always been more of a name to me than anything else and I'd have sworn he WAS from Texas. Well, if HE can do it...!! He's got the chops, though, hasn't he? I expect his general lack of popularity might well have something to do with his bitter and twisted attitude but I can relate to that. During 'If That Ain't Country' I was thinking about how self-referential some country songs can be (e.g. like George Jones and his 'Whose Gonna Fill Their Shoes' or that one, 'Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?' Wasn't that Waylon Jennings?) and I don't really enjoy the kind of 'nod to my pals/rivals' type of thing. It's like a lot of the bullshit that has come out of Rap. A poet once told me to never write poems about poetry and that seems fair enough. Where was I? Oh, yes. 'Revenge' is top notch, isn't it? I liked 'Spotlight' a lot, too. The final verse of the Steve Goodman penned song is totally hilarious. What's the general opinion of him saying something like 'worked like a nigger' in one of the above? Sounds shocking these days? Is it irony? Doe she think that's OK? I should tell you that my Grandmother had a cat called 'Nigger' and we lived in a predominantly black area. Those were weird times. Lord, I'm rambling again and finding these digressions becoming worse and worse. Love this post and many thanks.

    1. You are certainly welcome.

      That line is interesting because, even though the language is abrasive, it's not explicitly racist. There are variations of the sentiment from everybody down here...working like a Hebrew slave is one I've heard from black folks most often. It's the line about the dog that's trained to attack "sometimes"...that's the line that references racism.

      Of course, it's bleeped out whenever the song is played and that isn't often. This is one of the reasons I don't care for him wrapping himself in the Confederate Battle Flag and all that. It's not his place...and it's especially not his place to send out these missives that are so easily misunderstood. He's only gotten worse about it...or craftier.

      Plus...people did and do lead such lives. I think of my Great Grandfather tying my Granddaddy to his belt while he plowed behind a mule. It sounds like a joke of a country song...until you realize that after my Great Grandmother died my Grandaddy went berserk every time his Daddy left the house because he thought he was never coming back.

      Still, Coe is a genius...there's no way around. I barely scratched the surface here. Having said that...if somebody from freaking Akron Ohio can do it, certain somebody from Brigh...I mean Bristol can pull it off.

  2. Thanks, Erik. I can well understand where you are coming from when you talk about the lives of your grandparents and great grandparents.
    I listened to quite a bit of David Allen Coe yesterday and found some great stuff and also some awful , just plain obscene nonsense about 'butt-fuckin'' etc. Do you think he's ill? I should say 'unwell', just in case some young rapper thinks I'm stealing their terminology!
    I think Akron is a bit closer to the 'country' world than Bristol, so I'm looking for my own voice (literally) as I do have that tendency to fall into 'mid-Atlantic' when I sing American songs. Been listening to Dylan and the Guthries for too long! At the moment, having not sung properly for years, I sound like a depressed donkey. Maybe that's OK, though? Cheers for all the encouragement.

    1. I don't want to sing a sad song about my's just there are reasons these songs come from where they do and not from where they don't.

      He can be "butt-ugly"...and I haven't really followed his career but I think he's just become a parody of himself. I don't know if he's ill. He's done enough drugs to kill everybody on blogger. I think he's just genuinely outside the loop. Lots of people are good at pretending to the end they're just pretending...not Coe.

      We'll be doing some more country around here...since I'm in the mood now.

  3. Apart from versions of his songs by other artists, I only got to know Coe’s music because of that Marty Stuart song, “Miss Marie and the Bedford Blaze”, where two truckers are on their way to Vegas, where they’re going to get married. Miss Marie is a great Coe fan:

    “She met Coe one night out in Salinas
    She had every record that he’d ever made
    She always viewed him special, like a prophet
    They wanted him to preach the wedding
    Of Miss Marie to the Bedford Blaze.”

    Then Miss Marie’s intended sees her sacrifice her life one foggy night in order to avoid a stranded truck full of children…

    “Blaze didn’t even stop to watch her suffer
    Nor could his tears drown out the fire below
    He just drove his truck
    Right straight on through to Vegas
    And found a bottle and a Bible
    … And David Allan Coe.”

    Well, how could I not want to hear the man himself after that? Glad I did. I especially love his two terrific Hank Wliiams ballads – “The Ride” and “The Ghost of Hank Williams” – and “The Great Nashville Railroad Disaster”.

    Great blog, Erik. Much looking forward to your next country outing.

    1. It's amazing that he's probably done something that every one of us would find disgusting...then you hear a song like Pumpkin Center Barn Dance.

      I met him one night...well, I exchanged grunts with him one night in the Waffle House on High St. I gave him and his stoned girlfriend the booth I was sitting in. He's a big dude.

      There will be more country but, we may have to make a quick stop in southeast Asia before that.