17 things I learned from listening to country music in carpool in the 70’s

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The first song I remember hearing on the radio was Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings singing about “No Good Chain Gang.” I wanted that song and for my birthday or Christmas or Arbor Day or some such event, my mom bought me the album. This begs the immediate question of “Why did my mom buy an album with a song about criminals and chain gangs for her eight year old son?”. I need to qualify that my mom is a great mom and my dad is a great dad. Wonderful parents, both, but I need to also qualify that I was raised in the 1970’s. It was a relatively lawless time as far as parenting went. We weren’t being shown a “Leave it to Beaver” world on television. There was no political correctness in the world and I was allowed to ride my bike nearly three miles without a helmet or adult supervision to go hang out at a video arcade all day. I’m getting side tracked, as usual, but I’m about to circle back to music. You see as an eight year old I should probably not have been listening to a song that taught me such wisdom as “There ain’t no good in an evil hearted woman.” But, it was country music. It was “safer” than rock and roll on impressionable young minds. It was always on in the car. At least three times a week going to and returning from school I listened to the country music playing out of the wood-paneled station-wagon’s speakers. As I sat in that rear facing bucket seat, I learned a lot from those songs.

1. I learned about the importance and danger of lowering your standards around closing time.

The girls all get prettier at closing time. Oh, they all begin to look like movie stars . . . But when tomorrow morning comes and I wake up with a number one, I swear I’ll never do it anymore.

2. Girls like Cuervo.

Jose Cuervo, you are a friend of mine. I like to drink you with a little salt and lime. Did I kiss all the cowboys? Did I shoot out the lights? Did I dance on the bar? Did I start any fights . . . Now wait a minute. Things don’t look to familiar. Who is the cowboy who’s sleeping beside me? Well he’s awful cute, but how’d I get his shirt on? I had too much tequila last night.

If you think about it, this song doesn’t just describe a drunken night out and a one night stand. It describes a black out drunk and a one night stand that, as far as our protagonist knows, may or may not have been consensual.

3 .If you didn’t want to get a girl drunk, what other options did you have but cheesy pick-up lines?

If I said you have a beautiful body would you hold it against me? If I swore you were an angel, would you treat me like the devil tonight ?

or

Honey, do you love as good as you look? Can you satisfy your man, like your body says you can? Judging from the cover, I’d love to read the book. Honey, do you love as good as you look?

And if you are trying to catch yourself an older woman, just use the line “Older women, are beautiful lovers. Older women, they understand. I’ve been around some, and I have discovered that older women know just how to please a man.”

3a.  If the pickup lines don’t work for you, explain your sexual intentions in no uncertain terms.

I’d make love to you in a New York minute and take my Texas time doing it. I’d do you every way but wrong. I’d make love to you in a New York minute and take my Texas time doing it. I’d prove to you that in my arms is where you belong.

You want a man with a slow hand, you want a lover with an easy touch. You want somebody who will spend some time, not come and go in a heated rush. Baby, believe me, I understand, when it comes to love you want a slow hand.

4. As far as one night stands go, I learned they are a lot of fun and are necessary things in a very lonely world.

I like to play my music and have good times. I love to hear an old train rolling down the line. I am into happy and I don’t like sad. I like to have women I’ve never had.

Hello, are you free tonight? I like your looks, I love your smile. Could I use you for a while? It’s all wrong, but it’s all right . . . Just close your eyes and fantasize Tell me sexy lovin’ lines. It’s all wrong, but it’s all right.

That’s when I asked her, “My place or your place, I hope I’m not out of line.” I asked the wrong thing of just the right woman this time. She knew a hotel. She even had a name we could sign. The cheaper the grapes are, the sweeter the taste of the wine.

That same song taught me about the positive aspects of alcohol and sex with the line, “Liquor and music, a good combination. If you’ve got love on the brain.” I suppose Jose Cuervo taught me the same thing, but in more of a date rape kind of way.

There were more, so many more songs about one night stands that I can’t begin to list them all, but some noted highlights:

I’ve known some painted ladies that sparkled in the light. Country girls that loved the lovers moon. Some I never really knew, though I always wanted to. Some I only met once in a room. (okay, not technically describing a one night stand, but more of an ‘I bought a hooker a time or two situation’)

Well, I spent a lifetime lookin’ for you. Single bars and good time lovers were never true. Playin’ a fool’s game, hopin’ to win, and tellin’ those sweet lies and losin’ again.

Picking up strangers, let me tell you about the dangers. You never know what they’re out to get from you. You never know what they’re gonna try to do.

5. I guess the one night stands songs often highlighted the inherent sadness in casual sex. It was a tacit recognition of the necessity of it all and the emptiness it would bring in the end. Sort of a “What the hell else am I supposed to do?”

And I was alone then, no love in sight. I did every thing I could to get me through the night. Don’t know where it started or where it might end, I’d turn to a stranger just like a friend.

Yesterday is dead and gone and tomorrow’s out of sight. And it’s sad to be alone, help me make it through the night.

Juice Newton sang about asking to be called “Angel of the Morning,” but remember she’s saying she wants a man to call her “Angel” after sleeping with him and saying he doesn’t even need to bother to take her home because “There’ll be no strings to bind your hands. Not if my love can’t bind your heart. There’s no need to take a stand for it was I who chose to start. I see no need to take me home. I’m old enough to face the dawn. Just call me angel of the morning, Angel. Just touch my cheek before you leave me, baby.”

6. But, there was the continual reminder of how great sex is, even with a lonely pickup in a bar. I mean it is the equivalent of dying and going to heaven.

It was a lonely night in August. She was sittin’ at the end of the bar when I saw her. And with the little wine and a little time she would be a prize to win. Now I’ll never forget, I remember it yet, the taste of that clear, pure water. But that preachers words could not be heard when she whispered, come on in. She said, “Do you wanna go to heaven?” And I said, “Yeah, just lead me on.”

7. Of course sometimes you get into a relationship and that relationship ends. Then, what are you to do. Well, Kris Kristofferson and Ray Price knew that you tried to get one more night together. I mean it’s over , but can’t we do it again? You know, “For the Good Times.”

Lay your head, upon my pillow. Hold your warm and tender body close to mine. Hear the whisper of the raindrops blowing soft against the window, and make-believe you love me, one more time, for the good times.

8. But what happens when a man and woman fall in love and enter into a commit relationship/marriage? Well, they cheat on each other.

Still you wonder, who’s cheatin’ who and who’s bein’ true? Who don’t even care anymore? It makes you wonder who’s doin’ right by someone tonight and whose car is parked next door?

What a beautiful mansion he built you. Splendor, Lord, you got it wall to wall. And yet with all of that you’re still not happy, cause every time he’s gone I get your call. Slide off of you satin sheets. Slip into your long soft mink. You know where to find my door, and I know what your cryin’ for.

And he’ll tell her – he’s working late again, but she knows to well there’s something goin’ on. She’s been neglected – and she needs a friend, so her trembling fingers dial the telephone. And Lord, it hurts her – doin’ this again. He’s the best friend that her husband ever knew. When she’s lonely – he’s more than just a friend. He’s the one she loans her body to. Daytime friends and nighttime lovers Hoping no one else discovers where they go, what they do in their secret hideaway.

Not only are both spouses cheating, but she’s cheating with the best friend of her husband. She doesn’t even have the decency to find a stranger. She does need to get out more.

As she fumbles for the key, tonight she jumped some fences but she didn’t quite get free. She’s as cool as a salesman as she opens the door. She’s breakin’ in a new routine for the man who walks the floor . . . “You’re treatin’ me as if I were on trial. I never lied to you,” she kinda smiled. Now she can’t say that anymore.

My woman thinks I wouldn’t cheat on her when we’re apart, but there’s a secret hidden in the shadows of my heart. The truth is catching up with me and it’s hard to hide my shame. What she don’t know won’t hurt her, but it’s drivin’ me insane

Trying to love two women is like a ball and chain. Sometimes the pleasure ain’t worth the strain. It’s a long old grind and it tires your mind

9. You see, guilt is an ever-present aspect in the cheating. It doesn’t stop the cheating, but it makes sure you won’t be happy doing it. You’ll be in love with your wife and cheat anyway. You’ll just worry about dying while having sex and your wife finding out about it.

Now I lay me down to cheat on the woman I love so and if I die between these sheets, I pray to God, she’ll never know

10. Cheating and leaving doesn’t mean the woman won’t also forgive you and take you back. Of course, she’ll bug you about leaving her.

Why have you left the one you left me for? Has she heard, like me, that slammin’ door? Did you leave for good or just get bored? Why have you left the one you left me for?Okay, come on in! You be my lover! I’ll be your friend! You don’t have to tell me, and I wont ask again!

The chorus repeats and of course she asks again. Cheating goes both ways.

11. I learned that when the man cheats, he must be understanding when the woman follows suit, because “She’s not really cheatin’, she’s just getting even.

He has to understand, ’cause he’s an old hand at decievin’. Cause she’s not really cheatin’, she’s just getting even.

There’s a closet full of dresses that I bought you, and here’s the keys to the new car in the drive. And before you leave our room, put on your best perfume. If you’re gonna do me wrong, do it right.

12. Some women won’t care if you’re married because you are just that damn good.

My friends tell me there’s no future in lovin’ a married man. If I can’t see you when I want . . . I’ll see you when I can. If loving you is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

13. What do you do when it all falls apart and you’ve been left alone and there are no one night stands that can heal your broken heart? Well, you turn to alcohol.

Could be holding you tonight. Could quit doing wrong, start doin’ right. You don’t care about what I think. I think I’ll just stay here and drink.

Making money at thirty with a wife and a son. Then a short five years later it all comes undone. She’s gone back to mama with the boy by her side. Now I’m blind drunk and running with them on my mind.

Two months later got trouble in mind. My baby moved out and left me behind. But it’s all right ’cause it’s midnight and I got two more bottles of wine.

14. Drinking alone can be an extra depressing event. Drinking at a bar means you are, you know, drunk at a bar and need to get home. You could take a cab, but taking a cab is for sucks. So you drive home as drunk as you can be.

Breaker, Breaker, this is Heartache, now hear me loud and clear. I got a memory on my tailgate, Hey-hey, and old smokey’s on my rear. I’m gonna chase my headlights till I can drink me blind. I’m gonna be drinkin’ and drivin’ that woman right off of my mind.

The bars are all closed. It’s four in the morning. Must have shut ’em all down by the shape that I’m in. I lay my head on the wheel and the horn begins honking. The whole neighborhood knows that I’m home drunk again. And if drinking don’t kill me, her memory will. I can’t hold out much longer. The way that I feel with the blood from my body I could start my own still.

15. And eventually, if the memory just won’t fade, you live with it. You live with it until you die and then you find happiness.

He stopped loving her today. They placed a wreath upon his door. And soon they’ll carry him away. He stopped loving her today.

16. There is someone for everyone. That’s the beauty of the story of Tommy and Becky and how Tommy won’t fight his whole life but eventually fights for his Becky. Truly beautiful and . . . wait. Tommy won’t fight because everyone considers him “The Coward of the County.” He only fights after the gang rape of Becky and he doesn’t stay to comfort Becky after her assault. He just sees her, grabs his dad’s picture and then goes to the bar to beat the living crap out of the Gatlin brothers (and there were three of them). We know there were three of them because the lyrics very clearly list the number of men who take turns at Becky. I definitely shouldn’t have been singing along to that song as a young kid. I would have been better off listening to Johnny Cash describe how he “shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.” It was very rewarding to have Tommy take out all of his life’s anger on his girlfriend’s attackers, but he might have at least said something to Becky. Maybe gotten her a rape crisis counselor at the very least. Oh well, you’ve got to know when to hold them and know when to fold them as the song goes.

I probably learned more valuable life information riding in the back of that station wagon than I did through all of grade school. Not all of it was on the trouble between men and women.

17. I also learned that the Devil will occasionally come to earth for impromptu fiddle contests. You can kick the devil’s ass if you can play a mean fiddle and have a completely cocky and arrogant attitude. Who wouldn’t want to tell the devil, “I told you once, you son of a bitch, I’m the best there’s ever been.”

If my parent’s were really concerned about my well-being then they would have let me listen to the radio more. Oh, and made me take up the fiddle.

 

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