When I was a kid, I remember with a little bit of shame, I hated country music. I, frankly, blame my mother. Well, and society. I had this image of country music as something backwards and retarded, something that would somehow make me physically inbred just by playing it. If I wasn't ever vigilant, I'd end up sodomized on some rafting trip yet enjoying it. Anyway, in those days I was all about industrial music anyway, even to the point of refering to myself as a "rivethead."
Right. Well, I'm glad I got over both of those preoccupations. The country thing might have had something to do with Billy Ray Cyrus and Garth Brooks, or with my mom's combination of strong opinions and narrow taste, but I was an ass, and I've grown out of it (well, with regards to country, anyway).
With that in mind, here are a handful of tracks that I've learned to love over the years that I would've loudly decried had my dad put 'em on the stereo as a kid. They're still not proper Country, per se, but hell, you get enough of that with the Cash movie, right?
Lawn Dart by Ed's Redeeming Qualities.
A powerful ballad of love and loss, from ukelele-slingers to the K-Mart. I first heard this song on a CMJ Certain Damage comp back in the early '90s, and I spent years looking for it. The album showed up randomly on the internets, so I downloaded it and couldn't be happier. I've since bought it (though used, so the band still didn't get any money off me. You should buy it to make me feel better).
I swear that if you play this song during the summer, you will think of it every time you play any lawn game. Even croquet.
We Will Retake Saigon by Buddy Holocaust.
Great name, innit? Buddy Holocaust? Just the one guy, and this is one of those songs that no one knows whether it's a parody or not. Buddy died in a car crash that might have been a suicide soon after it was recorded. I think it's tongue in cheek, but I think that even if it were serious it would be hilarious.
The Illiad by Ed Sanders
As the astute can tell, Ed Sanders was part of The Fugs, one of America's most uplifting bands. But he was also a writer (of terrible poetry, really) and a recording artist in his own right. For some reason, his solo album Truckstop has never been reissued, despite it being, well, awesome. I had a hard time deciding what to upload, but I finally went with 'The Illiad,' which gives a pretty good indication of the tone of the album— funny, weird, but well-played. My father used to quote lines from this all the time while I was growing up, and I'm glad that I tracked it down.
Bad Blood by the Bonzo Dog Band
In fact, a lot of what I'm putting up today is stuff my dad used to sing to us, even though he'd lost his copies years ago. This one's the Bonzos, who should be known to everyone who likes Monty Python or Death Cab for Cutie. I like how far back the vocals are in the mix, it gives it an ominious feeling, even as he's singing about eggstains. Luckily, this is one that is pretty easy to find, if you look for it. It's also a song that for some reason my FTP program refuses to upload, so that's why it's a YSI link today.
Monkeys versus Donkeys by Wildman Fischer
And closing us out is another rarity, from the album "An Evening With..." which hasn't ever been reissued. There's kinda an epic disagreement between Frank Zappa, who recorded it and whose label issued it (and who was a famous asshole) and Wildman Fischer (who's crazy). There's even an apocryphal story about WMF pulling a tampon out of Frank's wife (who now controls the back catalogue) in a bathroom. You're unlikely to see this anywhere else, really. I had to go looking all over to find it last Christmas, and finally ended up patching together a bunch of different versions of vinyl rips into a cohesive album's worth. Still, it's so incredibly catchy that you can't turn away...