IF it’s true that you can judge a person’s character by his or her choice of music, I’d automatically be classified as a redneck – someone whose spouse weighs more than his tractor, and thinks the stock market has a fence around it.
I’m nothing like that, but the contents of my Sony Walkman says otherwise. Mixed in with jazz, it contains a vast number of hillbilly songs by artists ranging from Dolly Parton and Willy Nelson to relative newcomer, Steve Grand, a gay Chicago singer, songwriter and model who, to my mind is the sexiest man on the planet.
Now while it’s true that rednecks are generally as dumb as breeze blocks, country music is anything but stupid, with the exception of mawkish religious songs such as Johnny Cash’s Being a Christian isn’t for Sissies.
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Country has always been able to poke fun, not only at itself but also at serious stuff – including religion.
Take for example the satirical and very irreverent Austin Lounge Lizards. Favourites of mine are Jesus Loves Me but He Cant Stand You and One True God.
Country also contains a hell of a lot of contemporary social commentary. For example, given the rampant paranoia currently surrounding transsexuals and transvestites, it was pretty brave of Rodney Carrington to record Dancing with a Man.
‘I think I’m dancing with a man / She’s got callouses on her hands / She’s got a voice deeper than mine /
‘She gets a stiffy when we grind / I think I’m dancing with a man.’
Raunchy songs, of course, go back decades and Cole Porter, a master of the suggestive lyric, raised the hackles of the BBC back in 1930 with his enduring Love for Sale. This was banned by the corporation for its ambiguity about prostitution: ‘If you want to buy my wares, follow me and climb the stairs…’
In 1937 George Formby’s With My Little Stick of Blackpool Rock was only allowed to be played with certain sections removed.
In 1953 Frankie Laine’s Answer Me was condemned as ‘a sentimental mockery of Christian prayer’ for the lines: ‘Answer me, Lord above / Just what sin have I been guilty of? Tell me how I came to lose my love. Please answer me, oh, Lord.’
Sadly missing from my extensive collection of amusing and sexy songs spanning almost 100 years is an album called ‘Ben Bagley’s Cole Porter Revisited Volume 1’ in which a variety of artists perform 14 little-known Porter numbers.
It was first released in 1964 and re-released as a CD in 1983. I lost it in my move to Spain in 2010 and I dearly would love to get a replacement.
I found one on Amazon’s American site for a whopping $36.98, but I am loathe to buy anything from the US because import duties in Spain can almost double the cost of an item.
There’s one too on Amazon’s UK site for £28.74. Also available on the site is Volume 3 of the series which would set me back £167.90!
If anyone out there has any or all of the Cole Porter Revisited series and is willing to part with them for around 20 quid each, I would be ever so grateful.