Sometimes the title says it all … and more

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 10, 2000

I got into a discussion the other day with a guy who likes country music. He pointed to all the wonderful things about country music — the interesting and complex musical rhythms, heart-touching lyrics and occasional foot-stomping craziness.

It’s all there, he said. Plus, he added, cowboy chicks are the best.

Generally, I don’t disagree. I enjoy country music. Heck, I enjoy most any kind of music. The first album I ever bought was the &uot;Saturday Night Fever&uot; soundtrack, the second was (and I am now violating the late columnist Lewis Grizzard’s &uot;brother, I don’t believe I’d ‘ve told that &uot; advice) &uot;Barry Manilow Live&uot; and the third was Willie Nelson’s &uot;Red-Headed Stranger.&uot;

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I think Patsy Cline was one of the most wonderful performers of all time. I think Willie Nelson is a genius (except perhaps in dealing with accountants and the IRS). And on a long road trip through the high plains of Texas you can’t do better than Clint Black or George Strait.

When it comes to music, I guess we are all a product of what we are exposed to. In my house, the mixture was Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, The Platters, Johnny Mathis, B.B. King, Chuck Berry and many others. I remember my mother stacking five or six at the top of the little metal spindle at the center of our stereo turntable and turning the volume loud enough to drown out the drone of the washing machine.

For those of you too young to remember stacking &uot;albums&uot; on a turntable, just think of it as the old folks version of the continuous play button on your CD changer. The result was not continuous play, but was about the closest one could get at the time.

Not too long ago I was listening to a &uot;traditional&uot; country song from the latest Hank Williams wanna-be and I became completely irritated with the wailing (and I do mean wailing), &uot;I’m hungry. I’m thirsty. I’m losing my mind !&uot; I couldn’t help but think the singer should have been wailing something along the lines of &uot;I wish I were a better songwriter, I wish I could sing, I wish I was Garth Brooks&uot;

But it got me to thinking, the one thing traditional country music will always have over other music is the greatest titles that songwriters and musicians ever pinned on a tune. But you don’t have to take my word for it.

The list of song titles that follows is real. I didn’t make it up. The titles came from a list compiled by the music critic at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. While the editors of that paper titled their story &uot;The all-time best of the worst country music titles,&uot; there are some that I think are absolute classics. What’s really amazing is none of them mention a truck or a train.

Here’s the list:

&uot;If You See Me Gettin’ Smaller, It’s Cause I’m Leavin’ You&uot;

&uot;You’re a Cross I Can’t Bear&uot;

&uot;Mama Get the Hammer (There’s a Fly on Papa’s Head)&uot;

&uot;She Made Toothpicks Out of the Timber of My Heart&uot;

&uot;If Fingerprints Showed Up on Skin, Wonder Whose I’d Find on You?&uot;

&uot;It Ain’t Love But It Ain’t Bad&uot;

&uot;I’ve Been Flushed From the Bathroom of Your Heart&uot;

&uot;I’m the Only Hell Mama Ever Raised&uot;

&uot;I Don’t Know Whether to Come Home or Go Crazy&uot;

&uot;I Don’t Know Whether to Kill Myself of Go Bowling&uot;

&uot;If You Can Feel It (It Ain’t There)&uot;

&uot;If Heartaches were Wine I’d be Drunk All the Time&uot;

&uot;Touch Me with More than Your Hands&uot;

&uot;The Last Word in Lonesome Is Me&uot;

&uot;I’ll Marry You Tomorrow But Let’s Honeymoon Tonight&uot;

All I can say is thank the Lord that Patsy never sang any of those songs.

Todd Carpenter is publisher of The Democrat. You can reach him by calling 446-5172, ext. 218 or by e-mail at