Regretfully, I used to make fun of country songs, mostly ones from the 1950-60s with ‘raggely tales’ and nasaly twangy voices and bluegrassy sounds. Since I went out of my way to avoid listening, I wasn’t aware of new influences, like honky tonk, New Orleans and Mississippi Delta blues, and rockabilly, which were changing country music from solemn and sappy to sexy and sassy. Fortunately, a very wise and savvy Frenchmen pointed out the many improvements and improvisations made to the genre. He took me to task for ignoring and ridiculing this American made cultural tradition. He said that for a lady that loved storytelling, I was missing some of the best ones. He was right. So I began listening and enjoying the outlaw singers, like Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon, and Hank Junior. I even chuckled at country songs that joked about having a red pickup truck, getting drunk and being propped against the jukebox, and wallowing in the mud of love.
By the 80s country music had gone mainstream and it was cool to be country. Nashville became a mecca and Hollywood stars wanted to wear rhinestone boots and release hit country songs. I learned how to 2 Step and even took a square dance class for a college credit. I took guitar lessons and bought a keyboard, but my musical ability and voice is so far from pitch perfect people have actually paid me to stop strumming or singing (OK, they bought me drinks to shut me up). Today, although I embrace most types of music, I must admit there’s a little bit of Hollywood in me that would love to see one of my poems turned into a country song. Who knows, Nashville is just a few hours away. Here are a few contenders…anyone got a guitar or a fiddle?
Who Elected You? (a boot stomping tune)
I don’t follow leaders and I’m not a social feeder
I won’t nod my head—I’m a rebel born and bred
Got my own voice, my own two feet
So can you tell me please
Who elected you to speak?
Got my own money, buy my own drinks
So I wanna know—can you tell me please
Who elected you to think?
I wanna know, who elected you?
I’ve never done hard time, keep my nose on the line
I ain’t committed no bad crimes, I find my own relief
So tell me please, what is it you need?
I wanna know, who elected you
Who elected you to lead me?
Some nights when twilight calls
When day’s been loud and long
And the moon beckons from behind clouds
Displaying a hazy golden ring
I know what’s coming and I think
How am I going stand—one more her-i-can?
Refrain: Her-i-can—I can’t explain
Her-i-can, who’s to blame?
When she drops down
We always go…another round….
She was born when a blizzard’s blight
Darkened the day and lit up the night
She grew up chasing storms
She was far from a normal kind of girl
She’s my joy; she’s my pain, ain’t she grand?
She’s one badddd her-i-can.
Die Loving–A Mushy One
Spoken: you said what I did was a crime—I should be doing time
Go ahead tell the jury—just don’t forget—the rest of the story…
I know leaving and losing, bitching and boozing
But I just can’t recall—why you left
Why it matters at all.
I can’t catch a break
I’m a fool that gets flung; the bee that gets stung
The dope that gets smoked
And I just can’t recall—why it matters at all.
I know the blues; how to make hearts ache
All the liars, and all the fakes
But I just don’t understand
Why I care, why I still give a damn.
I know crying and moaning, tossing and turning
So why can’t I see it through?
Guess there’s just no getting over getting over you.
Families all gone, I guess nothing lasts long
At least no one I care about will know
Mistakes I’ve made, how little I got to show.
Darling, the candles just a nub, only dregs in my cup
The sun’s long gone
And the face in the mirror—looks all wrong.
End of the road, end of this song
No, I’m not gonna cry, and I’m not saying why
I’m just passing the time, till my candle burns high.
c Jo Hannigan, all rights reserved