David Allan Coe is, simply put, a wonderful white-trash poet. (Note, by the way, that his middle name is "Allan" and not "Allen.") For five decades, his songs have delighted and disgusted fans of country music, hard rock, Americana, and everything in between. At 71, he still tours relentlessly, through bouts of unsobriety and otherwise, crisscrossing this country like the roving music legends he sings about.
DAC is playing at Revolution in Fort Lauderdale tonight, and while it's sure to be an event full of established fans (note the black T-shirts with rebel flags on them), every concert is a chance for the uninitiated to get a taste. So in honor of his appearance, we've assembled a list of ten songs any DAC concertgoer should know. (Many of the songs from his X-rated albums could offend a vulgar sailor, and we won't address those here.)
10. You Never Even Called Me by My Name
is, far and away, DAC's most popular, most echoed tune. Part of the
appeal is certainly the audience-participation part of the song, which
includes often shouting the words: "Bitch! Slut! Whore!"
9. The Ride
The seminal DAC song, about hitchhiking and getting a lift from the ghost of Hank Williams. This is the best kind of country-music storytelling, without parody. Key lyrics: "You don't have to call me Mister, mister/The whole world calls me Hank!"
8. The Ghost of Hank Williams
Pretty similar to "The Ride," but with a graveyard setting instead of an old Cadillac. Every time he begins this song: "In an Alabama graveyard, on a cold September day/A young man with a guitar stares into space and plays," the crowd goes crazy.
7. Willie, Waylon, and Me
You've heard the term "Outlaw Country," yes? Well, this song tells that story. This is part self-promotion, part self-aware deprecation, all classic honky-tonking.
6. Longhaired Redneck
This brings together all the elements of DAC's fandom. You have hippies, hillbillies, bikers, drunks, and all manner of violent sociopaths. Notable lyrics: "I guess he ain't read the signs that say I've been to prison/Someone ought to warn him 'fore I knock him off his chair."
5. Take This Job and Shove It
Originally recorded by Johnny Paycheck but written -- and now often performed -- by DAC, this song captures all the angst of blue-collar life. It was later turned into a movie in which DAC made a cameo.
4. Jack Daniels if You Please
The best drinking song by a man with an entire catalog of them, this ditty has surely driven many sober people back to the bottle.
3. Now I Lay Me Down to Cheat
DAC has a lot of love-gone-wrong songs, and a lot of them sound the same. This one, though, a tale of the woes of infidelity, is heartbreaking. It tells the story of a man who loves his wife despite the fact he can't stop cheating on her... with her "a neighbor she still calls her friend."
2. Tennessee Whiskey
This is a love-gone-right song, an ode of true passion that compares the target of the affection to the other sweet drug in DAC's life: booze. He's struggled with addiction for almost his entire life, turning this song into a bittersweet moment anytime he plays it. "You're as smoo--ooth as Tennessee whiskey..."
1. If That Ain't Country
There is no better white-trash poem than this very controversial song. The original lyrics, the ones that still come out when you play the album, include a racial slur. But the story is about a family of the forgotten people, the ones most Americans wished didn't exist. Father: "drinks Pearl from a can and Jack Daniels black/Chews tobacco from a mail pouch sack." Mother: "Works hard for the old man." Sister: "Ran away 'cause Dad got violent, and he knows it." Old dog: "Trained to attack... sometimes." This is country.
David Allan Coe. 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 7, at Revolution, 200 W. Broward Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $21. Click here.