Friday, September 28, 2007

Lyrics For Losers and Lovers

I love country & western music. Always have and never have apologized for it, even when I was in college in the late ‘60s and was looked upon as a little odd – musically, too.

Hell, I even have a daughter named after a song (no, not Bobbie McGee). And the stuff I listened to alone and the performers whose concerts I attended alone in the early ‘70s (Jennings, Haggard, Kristoffersen, Hank Williams Jr., the bluegrass Country Gentlemen and, yes, Jerry Garcia as a member of the bluegrass group “Old and In the Way”) is now considered mainstream among the Yuppie scum I grew up with.

There is plenty to make fun of in the country genre, especially the lyrics and titles like “Drop Kick Me, Jesus, Through the Goal Posts of Life," and “I’m At Home Gettin' Hammered While She's Out Gettin' Nailed.”

But there is more truth in country lyrics than in most pop, rock, punk or hip-hop.

A number of songs – “Proud Mary” comes to mind – have been on pop, country and R&B charts at the same time. I once asked a radio station executive what's the difference between rock and country versions of the same essential music. The answer is that in country the singer is up front and in rock the band is up front. Pretty simple, and a matter of taste. No difference if they lyrics are right on.

In no particular order, here are my Top 10 country lyrics of all time – until I think about it again, tomorrow. Please add one-line or one-stanza lyrics meaningful to you.


The devil made me do it the first time, the second time I done it on my own. -- Billy Joe Shaver

I turned 21 in prison doin’ life without parole. No one could steer me right but Mama tried, Mama tried.– Merle Haggard

Then I fumbled through my closet for my clothes and found my cleanest dirty shirt – Kris Kristofferson

I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die. – Johnny Cash

That dustcloud on the edge of town is me. – Gordon Lightfoot


I felt like a peasant who just had met a queen/And she knew I saw right through her tight-fittin' jeans – Mike Huffman (sung by Conway Twitty)

She ain't ashamed to be a woman, or afraid to be a friend. -- Kristofferson

Who is this cowboy / Who's sleepin' beside me?
He's awful cute, but how'd I / Get his shirt on? – Shelly West

Don’t come home a’drinkin’ with lovin’ on your mind. – Loretta Lynn

I’d trade all of my tomorrows for a single yesterday -- Kristofferson

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