Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Country music's great lyrics

David Allen Coe

Working on a piece about "The Creative Spark of Country Music."

I once wanted to be a songwriter. I even ended up in Nashville as a news editor. I told our country music writer about my desire to one day write songs, and his reply was pretty deflating:

"Yeah, you and about 12 other people who got off the bus today."

He was right. But I still love a good lyrical hook - like the famous "mama" stanza from David Allan Coe's "You Never Even Called Me By My Name."

Coe gained fame as one of country's "outlaw" singers, and among other hits wrote the Johnny Paycheck anthem "Take This Job and Shove It."

Here's that memorable section from "You Never Even..."

Midway through the song, Coe starts talking...

"Well, a friend of mine named Steve Goodman wrote that song

"And he told me it was the perfect country-western song

"I wrote him back a letter and told him it was NOT the perfect country-western song because he hadn't said anything at all about
mama, or trains, or trucks, or prison, or gettin' drunk.

"Well, he sat down and wrote another verse to the song and he sent it to me

"And after reading it, I realized that my friend had written the perfect country-western song.

"And I felt obliged to include it on this album. The last verse goes like this here:

"Well, I was drunk the day my Ma got outta prison.
And I went to pick her up in the rain.
But, before I could get to the station in my pickup truck
She got runned over by a damned old train.

That's a great lyric and a great story.

Here's a more recent picture of Coe in full outlaw style:

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