Some people love country music. Some people hate it. Some people have now read the first line of this blog and tuned out quickly. Regardless of which category you belong to you have undoubtedly heard musings of the pundits that country music is for storytellers and feelings. With country music you FEEL the music and words and there is “no other music form like it”.
But here’s the thing – have you ever really looked at the words to the songs? I know it’s an easy blog to write about stupid songs like “Achy Breaky Heart”, “Bootscoot Boogie”, and any song about a dog and a truck, but I’m talking about a much deeper examination of the genre that takes the problems way deeper. That problem? There’s no closure.
Let’s examine two of the more popular songs in country music. The first to examine is “Don’t Take the Girl”, superstar Tim McGraw’s first #1 hit in 1994/1995. It’s a beautiful touching love story with some verses about a boy and a girl. A brief recap:
Verse 1 – A boy (Johnny) is going fishing with his Dad. The Dad also wanted to take a girl along (we’ll call her Claire) with them, but Johnny, quickly becoming the chauvinist that his parents feared, asked to take ANYONE but her (hence, “Don’t Take the Girl”.)
Verse 2 – Johnny and Claire are now 10 years down the road and dating. They are leaving a movie and a stranger comes and pulls a gun. Obviously Johnny is over the chauvinistic thing as he now offers the stranger watches, money, cars, etc. but he just urges the man to “Don’t Take the Girl”.
Verse 3 – Five years later Johnny and Claire are having a baby. The doctor comes out and says the baby is fine, but ‘his momma is fading fast’. Johnny drops to his knees and phttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vn6QdqxK3grays to God “Don’t Take the Girl”.
Verse 4 –
I left that blank, because THERE IS NO VERSE 4!!!! What the hell happened to Claire? Did she make it? Is she up in Heaven fishing eternally? Inquiring minds want to know! No, inquiring minds NEED to know. There was no follow-up from Mr. McGraw on if she made it or not, what happened to the baby, if the baby grew up to be as chauvinistic as Johnny, nothing! Also, we don’t know if they went fishing in Verse 1, and we certainly don’t know the outcome of Verse 2 either…was this stranger captured, incarcerated, what? No. Closure.
Next example – “Roll On (Eighteen Wheeler)” by Alabama – one of their #1 hits from around 1985. This song is a touching story about a truck driver that has to leave his wife and kids regularly for cross-country truck driving. He teaches the kids a song to sing while he’s away (hence, Roll on….). Well, one Wednesday evening (don’t know why it was necessary for it to be a Wednesday, but that’s a subject for another day) the momma is waiting by the phone for his call – but the call came from the Highway Patrol instead. The lyrics:
Seems the highway patrol has found a jackknifed rig
In a snow bank in Illinois
But the driver was missin’
And the search had been abandoned.
‘Cause the weather had everything stalled
And they had checked all the houses and local motels
A tragic end to a tragic day? No, not quite…. the next verse details the prayer that momma prayed, and when the call came in it was Daddy on the other end.
End of song.
Huh? What happened to him? How did he survive the evening when all search (and hope) was gone? To clarify and hopefully add some closure to this song, I’ve written a new verse from the daddy’s perspective that should help:
Well I was drunk, and fell asleep at the wheel,
and didn’t see the cow standing in the road
I kinda wound up hitting the cow and crashing the truck
Which shut off the engine – shucks!
But the cow was dead
And I cut it open
And crawled inside for the warmth…
If you sing that to the tune of “Roll On” you’ll see that it’s a perfect fit. Don’t thank me now, thank me later when you hear this song come on the radio and you won’t be able to stop yourself from singing along.
As far as Johnny and Claire are concerned, I kinda feel like Claire made it through the childbirth, but over the years grew sick of Johnny’s increasing chauvinism and eventually filed for divorce – asking for custody of the boy and a later girl they had. Hence, SHE is now singing ‘Don’t Take the Girl’ from a custody standpoint.
See? Both songs could have ended in a wonderful cacophony of closure. Let’s think just a little bit out there, country artists….