Randy Newman was right

I Heart Rednecks! I’m a Redneck, Too! – Hillary
Rednecks are more to be pitied than scorned. – Barack
Possum cooks up real nice on your car’s radiator. – John M.

Aside from the media farrago, about which I could give a rat’s ass, and fairly coincidentally, I got closer to any of the dreaded R sensibility than any of the aforementioned political geniuses will, at least this week. While waiting for a store to open, a supply truck for the store next door parked with the radio blaring. What a treat! Two songs which I’m sure are at the top of the Country Western Hit Parade hammered at my eardrums full blast:

“My kid’s in his booster seat, eatin’ his Happy Meal,
  He knows no toy ‘til the nuggets get eat, he’s Mama’s real deal,
  Then I heard my 4 year old say a 4 letter word,
  Started with ‘s’ and ended with ‘t’….”

That last line was the one I really appreciated. A four letter word starting with “s” …sail? sand? sari? In that brief second, my mind was fairly awhirl with possibilities. Whatever could it – oh, ends with “t.” Thanks!

Yes, the tyke wants to be just like daddy and so, in addition to eating his way to a four-year-old paunch, is also mastering the earthier additions to the lexicon. But the fun was just beginning, for next I heard a gem called “American Soldier:”

“American Soldiers,
  Fighting when our liberty’s at stake,
  Giving their all, sisters and brothers,
  We owe our lives to you!”

In other words, “You’re over there in Iraq so I can live in my McMansion and write some pandering lyrics about how much I appreciate what you’re doing so I can make even more money and drive an SUV and listen to myself on the radio and get invited to the White House and talk to George Bush about how awesome we are for recognizing how awesome you are! It’s better than jerking off! Thank you, soldiers!” Asshole.

I have detested “country” music forever and always, particularly being transplanted from California to a region, Idaho, where no one listens to anything else – not that my bill of fare in San Jose was a marvel of fine listening; I believe I may have purchased a Bay City rollers album at some point. But pop country, even then, was too twangy and lugubrious for my taste as a 14-year-old. Dad and I used to joke about songs he heard on the car radio (Mom stuck to her tapes of Broadway musicals): “I cheated on my wife, I love my pick-up, I ran over my wife with my pick-up when she cheated on me, I ran over my dog by accident when I was trying to run over my wife who cheated on me and now I’m really bummed out cuz he was the best friend I’ll ever know and I may have to get the pick-up’s wheels realigned,” was his summation of the lyrics to basically every country song. (Thought I must admit, that sounds downright Proustian next to the crap I heard this morning.)

It wasn’t until the spouse turned me on to Hank Williams and Johnny Cash that I realized country music, the real thing, hillbilly soul, is awesome. But Williams and Cash and…there, unfortunately my knowledge ends, as I am not terribly adventurous in this area – wrote lyrics that, while simple, cut through the b.s. right to what it means to be human. There’s a Biblical sense of justice and retribution, which is just as often self-directed, behind “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” and “Ring of Fire.” Hank Williams writing about MacDonald’s? Happy Meals, for Lord’s sake? Please. Even something as light and silly as “A Boy Named Sue” has a world-weary intensity that the good old boys I heard today couldn’t get close to if they spent a year penniless and barefoot with signs saying, “Will Not Sing for Food.”

Pop music in every genre is basically crap, but the stuff I heard today was SO manipulative, so platitudinous, so Idol Cares, I lost my customarily sunny demeanor (OK, maybe not sunny, but cloudy and bright) and felt like the spouse isn’t caustic enough as he slashes and burns his not-so-merry way through the American zeitgeist.

It’ll pass, don’t worry. In general, I’m all about the hope. And of course, the bright spot is, Hillary has to listen to this shit until she drops out of the race. I do believe, deep down, she’s very smart. At some point, the cognitive dissonance has to cause a crisis….

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