Sunday, September 27, 2009

Country Music and the American Road

There are currently three popular country songs about cars, tractors, and driving:
  • Craig Morgan's International Harvester
  • Toby Keith's American Ride
  • Jason Aldean's Big Green Tractor

It makes me wonder if the recession -- and in particular the struggles of the American car industry -- are causing the musicians to think about cars even more than usual. I am a fan of International Harvester and American Ride. Tractor is awful.

The funnest thing about these songs is that my googling of International Harvester made me realize that the car Dad drove for a number of years while we were growing up -- a Travelall with awesome wooden trim -- was made by IH.

I called Dad this afternoon and we talked about the International which - once I started thinking about - I remembered well. He reminisced on getting up early to beat the gas lines during the OPEC embargo, and he told me how proud he was when he first bought the car and would pull the new Apache behind it.

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On Harvester, there's a great funky organ back-up to Craig Morgan's proudly sung ode (a God-fearing, hard-working combine driver!). Here's an excerpt:

Well you may be on a state paved road
But that blacktop runs through my payload
Excuse me for tryin’ to do my job
But this year ain’t been no bumper crop

On American Ride, Toby Keith is hilarious as usual in his jingoistic critique of liberal, consumerist America, with zero sense of irony. And yet, I love it:

Platinum gettin bigger, Jesus gettin smaller.
Spill a cup of coffee, make a million dollars ...

That's us, That's right
Gotta love this American ride
Both ends of the ozone burnin
Funny how the world keeps turnin.

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