July 2024

 

Alert readers (ARs) of a certain age who are also fans of country music may recall a song recorded in 1971 by Steve Goodman titled, “You Never Even Called Me By My Name.” It was more famously recorded by David Allan Coe in 1975 and is perhaps best remembered its list of subjects that must be included in the perfect country western song: Mama, trains, trucks, prison, and getting drunk, all of which can be found in the verse:

I was drunk the day my mama got out of prison
And I went to pick her up in the rain.
But before i could get to the station in my pickup truck
She got runned over by a damned old train.

ARs who are well versed in multiple musical genres will recognize some of these same themes as staples of blues, where, as some commentators have pointed out, the vehicles of choice seem to be broken down trucks, Chevys and Cadillacs. Don’t expect to hear blues lyrics about Volvos or Teslas. Trains are most often southbound for some reason and are supplemented by Greyhound buses as preferred means of transportation. You’ll never hear blues songs about passengers on private jets or cruise ships.

Prisons, jailhouses and chain gangs figure prominently, as does capital punishment (e.g. going to the electric chair for shooting a man in Memphis). Mama is so important in blues culture that it’s often part of the name under which female singers perform, as is Big Mama. (Big Mama Thornton was the first singer to record “Hound Dog,” which was later covered by Elvis Presley and helped launch his career.)

While getting drunk is a common theme in both blues and country music, craft beer is not. Moderate consumption, as is promoted by Schlafly and other craft breweries, seems inconsistent with some of the activities commonly associated with juke joints (in the case of blues) and honky tonks (in the case of country music) such as brawling, cheating and raising hell. Responsible drinking just doesn’t offer that much interesting material for songwriters in either genre.

Not likely to sing about Schlafly or other craft beers.

Several of the male blues singers who were popular during my adolescence were named for U.S. presidents in the late 19th or early 20th century: Chester Arthur Burnett (Howlin’ Wolf); McKinley Morganfield (Muddy Waters); and Roosevelt Sykes (The Honeydripper). This is a trend I don’t expect to be continued with future blues singers named Trump or Biden.

We have, however, recently seen prominent defendants named Trump and Biden in criminal trials that could lead to incarceration in prisons like those featured in blues and country music. That said, it must be emphasized that not all felonious behavior that might lead to imprisonment is worthy of being celebrated in song. Falsifying business records, for example, just doesn’t cut it. On the other hand, messing around with a porn star (the quintessential honky tonk woman) more than qualifies. Especially when such an entanglement is expensive and aggravates a good-hearted woman you left at home.

Mishandling government documents? (Yawn.) Promoting fake electors? (Huh?) Fomenting a violent insurrection because the government done you wrong? That could be worth a song.

Lying on a government form? Nope. That won’t get you any cred in prison. How about lying in order to exercise your second amendment right to buy a gun? That should somewhat enhance your street cred. Lying about a drug habit in order to exercise your second amendment right? Now we’re talking. Cheating on your taxes? Boring. Fathering a child by a stripper you met in a honky tonk? That’s worth several verses in a song. Denying you’re the father and refusing to pay child support? A song about that could go to the top of the charts.

Much of the world was first introduced to Donald Trump by his 1987 book The Art of the Deal, which he did not in fact write and which the ghostwriter Tom Schwarz now says he regrets having written.

Hunter Biden’s most famous book was Beautiful Things, which he published in 2021. Like Trump’s ghostwriter, Hunter probably now regrets having written this memoir. Not because any of it was untrue. On the contrary, he undoubtedly regrets that the accounts in the book were regarded as totally true and credible by the jury that recently convicted him on three felony counts in his criminal trial in Delaware. The fact that the audio version of the book that was played for the jury was read by Hunter himself definitely enhanced its credibility.

Although I have neither read Hunter’s book nor listened to the audio version, from the accounts I’ve read in other media, I think it might contain most of the ingredients of the perfect country song and then some.

 

 

 

 

Tom Schlafly
Chairman – The Saint Louis Brewery