Monday, June 13, 2005

Country Rock on your goddamn birthday. Aint that a bitch?

Yesterday was my birthday. It was very hot. To celebrate my 36th as a self-aware bag of chemicals, I watched Country Music Television for two hours. (Among other, lots more fun social things.)

Before yesterday, I was only vaguely aware of Country Music Television. Now, I don’t want you to think I’m TV snob. I am only vaguely aware of most things never mind TV networks. I don’t understand who anyone is anymore. I’m stunned by how quickly “celebrities” get shitted out these days, most of whom would have trouble keeping up with Ted Knight or Franco Nero in an improv. In my shitty current pop-culture expertise, I’m like my mother before she died, only she was in her 70’s and crazy.

Anyway, like I said, it was hot, and I was really just putting off lifting my sweaty buttock off my old man chair. I was flipping around the Cable TV Show Finding Matrix Box Thing, and there was this Country Rock documentary listed. Whoo dog.

I have this abstract affection for Country Rock and by extension, white Country Soul. (My affection for ZZ Top is fully concrete, realized and EMPIRICAL, because they are RAD and BADASSES, you know, once you get past all the bullshit and stuff.) I like the idea of rednecks stealing their own agrarian culture back from the dirty hippies. Being poor and white from the holler is really the best reason to dress like you’re poor and white from the holler.

What I found interesting is they weren’t playing strictly straight ahead rock. Their music was more syncretic, taking jazz, blues, soul, funk and country and playing them all like acid rock. That’s not only badass, it’s also an extension of a popular music tradition that includes Robert Johnson, Jimmy Rodgers, Muddy Waters, the Mississippi Sheiks, the Texas Playboys, etc. At the end of this chain is Greg Allman marrying Cher. History is weird, yeah?

There guys were also PRACTICALLY progressive instead of THEORETICALLY progressive. These guys played black bars, in some cases integrated their bands, not for any high minded reason, but because a MOTHERFUCKER NEEDS TO GET PAID. Country Soul took one step further and had white Southern folks playing very funky music, almost too much so, for a mixed audience. You can check this interesting sub-sub-sub genre on a good compilation: Country Got Soul

Anyway, the show was decent. It’s a rich area and I’d love to see a non-hacky documentarian do a take on it. So at this point, CMT is looking good, with weird little network ID with stuffed squirrels. CMT is making the effort on my birthday, and I noticed. But the honeymoon with CMT was soon to be shattered...

...for I then subjected myself to the first fifteen minutes of a show about the first line in a Tanya Tucker song. The song in question was one written by David Allen Coe (a badass. More on that momentarily.) called “Will you lay with me (in a field of stones).” The eponymous first line apparently caused the south to explode in a seething stew pot of righteous wrath. You see, according to the show, Tanya Tucker was only fourteen and so it was bad that she used the word “lay”. Nice girls don’t use prepositions, and in some states, you cannot refer to a spatial relationship of any kind if you are under eighteen years of age. Many, many musicologists, very old DJs, pop culture historians, and Nashville producers were wheeled in front of me in those fifteen minutes and they wanted me to know that Tanya Tucker was indeed fourteen and sang the word “lay”, and man, were people upset. I am only slightly exaggerating.

The show was called “CONTROVERSY!”.

The one bright spot was an appearance by David Allan Coe, a Country songwriter as important as Willie Nelson and Kris Kristopherson. The god...the guy, no crap, looks like Rob Zombie but Rob Zombie after 8 years in a Russian prison. Rob Zombie is like the Lifetime Movie version of David Allan Coe.

That’s all. I rambled, I know.

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Anonymous wifey said...

Greg, I think your brother is going to have hurt feelings that you didn't mention the pinata he brought over stuffed with jelly bellies and top ramen packages.

And the Marilyn Monroe playing cards he gave you for your gift.

10:46 PM  
Blogger Donna said... Oh my dear god. Your poor children have no hope but to end up as creative types...why did you procreate? What made you think that was a good idea? And twice?! The world is in desperate need of garbage collectors, not thinkers! Stop making babies Greg and Paula!

7:00 PM  
Blogger Greg Mills said...

Believe me, we've stopped.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Donna said...

Family bed, eh? Been there done that!

9:25 AM  

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