Saturday, February 9, 2013

David Allan Coe - If That Ain't Country

If you can't laugh at yourself, you may be the only one not laughing.  Last week I posted Kitty Wells' great song It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels.  It's one of the greats, filled with sorrow and regret - who'd laugh at that?  Well, David Allan Coe would.

It's sometimes said that aging isn't from the years, it's from the miles and Coe is living proof of that.  Born poor, in Reform School by age 9, in and out of prison for 20 years, he started writing songs in Nashville.  Still poor and trying to get noticed by the Labels, he lived in an old hearse that he parked out side of the Grand Ole Opry.  It worked - he started selling songs, and what a collection of songs it was: Mona Lisa Lost Her Smile, Take This Job And Shove It, Would You Lay With Me (In A Field Of Stone).

Success didn't change his always on the edge of trouble life.  The IRS seized his house for taxes and he went and lived in a cave (really).  He never lost his sense of humor.  This song captures this better than maybe any, as he mocks (with a wink) the whole genre of "I'm so Country" songs.  If anyone can write a song about the troubles of life, it's David Allan Coe.  But he threw in a final perfect verse at the end that offers a sly smile to Kitty Wells and the early Country greats - and how their songs sounded remarkably similar.

If That Ain't Country (Songwriter: David Allan Coe)
The old man was covered in tattoos and scars;
He got some in prison and others in bars.
The rest, he got workin' on old junk cars...
In the daytime.
They looked like tombstones in our yard
And I never seen him when he wasn't tired
And mean.

He sold used parts to make ends meet
Covered with sweat in the Texas heat
And mosquitoes.
And the neighbors said we lived like hicks
But they brung their cars for Paw to fix

He was veteran-proud - tried and true;
He'd fought till his heart was black and blue.
Didn't know how he'd made it through
The hard times.
He bought our house on the G.I. Bill
But it wasn't worth all he had to kill
To get it.

He drank Pearl in a can and Jack Daniels Black,
Chewed tobacco from a mail pouch sack,
Had an old dog that was trained to attack...
He'd get drunk and mean as a rattlesnake
And there wasn't much that he would take
From a stranger.

There was thirteen kids and a bunch of dogs,
House full of chickens and a yard full of hogs;
Spent the summertime cuttin' up logs
For the winter.
Tryin' like the devil to find the Lord;
Workin' like a nigger for my room and board;
Coal-burnin' stove - no natural gas -
If that ain't 'Country', I'll kiss your ass.

If that ain't 'country', it'll hair-lip the Pope.
If that ain't 'country', it's a damn good joke.
I've seen the Grand Ol' Opry, and I've met Johnny Cash.
If that ain't 'Country', I'll kiss your ass.

Momma sells eggs at the grocery store.
My oldest sister is a first-rate whore.
Dad says she can't come home anymore
And he means it.
Ma just sits and keeps her silence.
Sister, she left 'cause Dad got violent
And he knows it.

Momma, she's old far beyond her times,
Choppin' tobacco and I seen her cryin'
When blood started flowin' from her callused hands
And it hurt me.
She'd just keep workin' - tryin' to help the old man
Till the end of one row then back again
Like always.

She's been through Hell since Junior went to jail.
When the lights go out she ain't never failed
To get down on her knees and pray
Because she loves him.
Told all the neighbors he off in the war
Fightin' for freedom and he's good to the core
And she's proud.

Now, our place was a graveyard for automobiles.
At the end of the porch there was four stacks of wheels
And tires for sale for a dollar or two
There was fifty holes in our old tin roof,
Me and my family was livin' proof
That people who forgot about poor white trash,
And if that ain't 'Country', I'll kiss your ass.

If that ain't 'country', it'll hair-lip the Pope.
If that ain't 'country', it's a damn good joke.
I've seen the Grand Ol' Opry, and I've met Johnny Cash.
If that ain't 'Country', I'll kiss your ass.

An' I'm thinkin' tonight of my blue eyes,
And flyin' with the gray speckled bird.
I didn't know God made honky-tonk angels
And went back to the wild side of life.


Goober said...

*clutches pearls*

"gasp! Was that the N-word? I knew all you reich-wingers were racists at heart!"

Sabra said...

There's been a bit of controversy over the use of the word nigger in that song for sure.

I've always liked this one. (I probably don't have to say at this point I grew up listening to Coe, eh?) Damn shame most people only know him for "You Never Even Call Me By My Name." He lived the song, though, and you can tell.

Rabbit said...

D.A.C. is a real character. I used to attend his New Year's Eve parties for many years until they got too weird, even by my standards. I try to catch him when he's through town just to say hello.