Sunday, 28 March 2010

if you don't like Hank Williams you can kiss my ass

Ah, one of the all-time inspiring pieces of country lyricism! Up there with Merle Haggard and if you don't love it leave it which my guilty conscience tries to avoid humming despite how damn catchy that riff is.
But its a Sunday and that can mean only one thing in the world of country music...Kris Kristofferson.
I don't know much about Kris, other than that he spells his name badly and that he looked damn fine in a white t-shirt circa about 1970-something. But that's enough. He writes songs about being stoned, about his friends who ODed and about loving and loosing and getting wasted. And if that dates him somewhat then it dates me too.
These days he looks grizzled and grey and like the man who survived. Not anymore like the man who has to justify why he's singing a Janice Joplin song.
I first heard Me and Bobby McGee on a country station late one night in Hamilton when I was 17. Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose. And those lyrics, sentimental and obvious, still make me cry.
But it keeps making me think; why do we keep having to justify the love of the slide guitar, the delicate sound of a grown man singing through his nose?
And for the life of me, I have no answer.
Johnny Cash has a lovely album of other people's songs called The Storyteller; and I could argue that what I really love is a good narrative. And that the fact that all those highwaymen keep stealing each other songs appeals to my post-modern sensibilities. I like the way the songs and the singers are in constant conversation.
That album contains a cover of one of Bruce Springsteen's greatest songs - Highway Patrolman - Yea we're laughin' and drinkin' nothin' feels better than blood on blood - all his best lyrics are the ones from the songs no one has heard. And it comes from his most perfect album; Nebraska, I can't say that I'm sorry for the things that we done At least for a little while sir me and her we had us some fun. An awful, tragic (in the true sense of the word) cry to a world that doesn't care.
Which brings me back to being born a lonely singer, and bound to die the same. And Sunday morning coming down;'Cos there's something in a Sunday,Makes a body feel alone.And there's nothin' short of dyin',Half as lonesome as the sound, of a slide guitar.

1 comment:

  1. I grew up hearing a great deal of folk music, with the occasional bits of country thrown in. I am a sucker for songs that tell a story or when the lyrics really matter. ANd as a fan of Mando-pop, I was pleased when indie band Sodagreen had their latest album Fever produced in the UK, the production team added slide guitar to a couple of the tracks. Good work.