Home Team / It's five o'clock somewhere
Published 4:17 pm, Thursday, November 18, 2010
In some circles, that would be Carrie Underwood. I saw the former "American Idol" star put on a show earlier this week at the Prudential Center in Newark -- and she is a sweetheart. Gorgeous. Personable. Gracious. She looks like an angel, walks like an angel and, most importantly, sings like an angel.
And here's what she sings: I dug my key into the side / Of his pretty little souped-up 4-wheel drive / Carved my name into his leather seat / I took a Louisville Slugger to both head lights / Slashed a hole in all 4 tires / And maybe next time he'll think before he cheats.
Ah, yes. Country music.
I happen to be a huge fan of country music. Nashville is one of my favorite cities. I thought Crazy Heart was one of the best movies of the last five years. My current ringtone is "Sweet Home Alabama." But I have to admit -- the lyrics to most of those country tunes? Pretty funky . . .
In the song featuring the line quoted above, Carrie also mocks her boyfriend's new fling: Right now, he's probably buying / Her some fruity little drink / `Cause she can't shoot whiskey. Being able to drink, and to drink hard, is an important theme in country music -- especially among the females. In "Redneck Woman," Gretchen Wilson boasts, No I can't swig that sweet champagne / I'd rather drink beer all night. And she echoes Carrie's disdain for girlie drinks in "Here For the Party": Don't want no purple Hooter Shooter just some / Jack on the rocks. Oh, yeah, being a full-fledged, card-carrying redneck woman happens to be another big theme.
By the way, the name of the Carrie Underwood song in which she bashes in both headlights with a baseball bat is "Before He Cheats." Gretchen, too, has a song that mines this same vein: "When I Think About Cheatin'". Cheating. Yup, you guessed it: yet another key theme.
So the question is, while these lusty redneck women are drinking Jack Daniels, slashing tires, and thinkin' about cheatin', what, exactly, are their men up to?
Seems to me they're just drinking beer.
The undercard for the Carrie Underwood concert in Newark featured a laid-back, gold-toned good ole' boy by the name of Billy Currington. He sang one very catchy tune that particularly appealed to me: I wasn't born for diggin deep holes / I'm not made for pavin long roads / I ain't cut out to climb high line poles / But I'm pretty good at drinkin beer. And lest we think this whole idea of beer-guzzling was just a passing fancy to him, a few songs later, he croons, God is great, beer is good and people are crazy.
The red-hot, Grammy-Award-winning Zac Brown Band goes along with the idea that drinking beer isn't a half-bad way to pass the time: I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand / Not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand / Life is good today, life is good today. And let's not forget the greatest hit of all time in country's ode-to-beer sub-genre: Alan Jackson's classic, "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere."
Trucks -- there's another running motif. Trucks and fender-benders. Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles, my absolute numero uno when it comes to country singers, describes one such misshap in her hit song, "It Happens": That yellow light turned red too quickly / Knew that truck the moment it hit me / Out stepped my ex and his new girl / (`Sorry `bout your neck baby') Wow, come to think of it, Jennifer hits a double with that verse -- touching on not just one, but two of Nashville's top preoccupations: trucks and ex's.
Pickups, Chevy's, Fords -- these are the kind of vehicles that loom large in country lyrics. Pretty much any good old car-maker from De-troit will do. In her tribute to her home town, Checotah Oklahoma, Underwood sings:With as many friends as I could pack / In my Daddy's Ford / But I ain't in Checotah anymore. Offhand, I can't think of any songs about Audi's.
Now you may be wondering why I like this kind of music so much. What does all this cheatin' and lyin', all these pickup trucks and ex's, have to do with me? What do I -- suburban writer and life-long Little League coach -- have in common with these redneck men and women? Not much. Well, except for maybe one thing.
I am pretty good at drinkin' beer.
Westporter Hank Herman shares his Home Team column every other Friday in the Westport News.