Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Here At Home 'Til Closing Time
Howdy, cowpokes. Belly on up to the bar, and we'll serve you up some fine cocktails. It's Day 3 of The Big Rock Candy Mountain Top 100 Drinking Songs List.
As we move on up the list, you'll start to notice a pattern of sorts. Or, more accurately, you'll see certain genres asserting their dominance over the world of drinking songs. I'm not entirely surprised, but it could lend the list a certain "cry foul" factor from the peanut gallery. It should be disclosed, to those who may be new here, that my primary focus at this here blog is on Country music, with the occasional Blues, pre-rock R&B, and Trash/Garage entries popping up from time to time. I also think Tom Waits and the Pogues are the cat's meow. My personal focus on these genres is preciseley the reason I enlisted a panel of judges, to help keep the list from being only my long gone lonesome voice. They did a bang up job, and kept the list much more honest in breadth than I could have accomplished left to my own devices.
That said, Country and Blues still managed a pretty sizable smackdown over the rest of the field. I'm not surprised. Punk made a decent showing, as did a couple of classic lounge songs. And Ireland did itself proud, naturally. Indie/Alternative music was the big loser, with Hard Rock/Heavy Metal struggling to get enough votes to save face. Hip Hop managed only one entry, but it's a corker, and you're gonna be happy to see it (a twangy cover version of the song has certainly helped it out amongst the flannel and boots crowd).
I have some observations about why I think Country, Blues, and Punk made such a strong showing, and why others did not. I'm not writing a thesis paper here, so bear with me. If you've got a 100-page paper sitting around on the sociological aspects of the drinking song, and are dying to get it out there, we'd be more than happy to find a way to accomodate you.
I think the strength of the drinking song lies in it's "jukebox factor". What songs can achieve the maximum amount of folks singing along or toasting their friends when played on the jukebox of your local tavern? Some of this is based on familiarity, which favors Country and Blues, as they are some of the older genres of popular American music, jumping on the burgeoning radio and singles market of the early 20th century. Country and Blues, in the American tradition, have existed as long as porches, as long as barn raisings, as long as folks returned from a long day in the fields and had to entertain themselves. Having both come from a rural tradition, this was music that aimed for the most populist of themes, speaking directly to the "common man", whoever that is. They aimed at a reflection of daily life, and then danced your cares away. Barn Dances and Juke Joints. Back yards and tiny cold water apartments. But back to the original point. If you walked into a random bar with a random selection of individuals, and played a Crooked Fingers song followed by a Merle Haggard song, which song would have a bigger effect, if at all?
Indie rock has a kind of insular, misanthropic take on drinking. When Johnny Paycheck or Champion Jack Dupree sing about drinking alone, they're inviting you to drink alone with them, no matter what separation by years or distance. Indie rock wants you to fuck right off and leave them alone, cuz you don't understand their pain, man. Hank and Wynonie understand, and they want you to understand too.
I could be wrong about all this, of course. What do you think? Make a case for your favorite song.
Of course, the rest of the list is not all Blues and Country. Far from it. So don't be afraid. I think most of you will be pretty happy with the range we've got coming up. As ever, hop on over to Barstool Mountain for a continuing countdown of all the songs that didn't make the Top 100, with random mp3's included. It'll be the permanent home for The Top 100, and a continuing forum for all songs drinking.
Thanks for visiting.
The Big Rock Candy Mountain Top 100 Drinking Songs, Part 3
80. "Last Night" - The Mar-Keys
79. "Gonna Drink Milwaukee Dry" - Charlie Walker
78. "Jack Daniels If You Please" - David Allen Coe
77. "I'm At Home Getting Hammered (While She's Out Getting Nailed)" - Banjo And Sullivan
76. "Whiskey Bottle" - Uncle Tupelo
75. "She's Acting Single, I'm Drinking Doubles" - Gary Stewart
74. "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music)" - various
73. "When I'm Drinkin" - Champion Jack Dupree
72. "Rum and Coke" - Professor Longhair
71. "Margaritaville" - Jimmy Buffet