Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Texan Love Song

In which two Englishmen attempt to write a satirical song from the point of view of a good ol' boy from Texas a la Ed Sanders' Johnny Pissoff (from "The Iliad") or Zappa's Lonesome Cowboy Burt, and manage to succeed admirably, against all odds.

Rather than show disdain or contempt for our irate redneck, Taupin stays objective and lets him retain a sort of dignity, even as he blusters against the long-haired hippies who drink his beer and ogle his women:

So it's Ki yi yippie yi yi
You long hairs are sure gonna die
Our American home was clean till you came
And kids still respected the president's name

And the eagle still flew in the sky
Hearts filled with national pride
Then you came along with your drug-crazy songs
Goddamnit you're all gonna die


And it's John's melody line which enables this to happen; subtle chord changes during the above chorus add a melancholy, almost poignant air to our cowboy's rant, to show that he's scared of something or someone that he doesn't understand and inwardly mourns for what he perceives to be the death of the lifestyle he holds dear, almost as if John Wayne had chosen to write a pop song. Musical color is added by John on harmonium and Johnstone's mandolin, giving it a gentle Old West-movie vibe.

Of course, having the "goddamnit" in the lyrics ensured that it would never be played on radio, and combined with its placement in the middle of side two on the vinyl LP, this track was doomed to be obscure. Shame, because it worked really well at both satire and sympathy, a difficult trick to pull off.

2 comments:

Little Earl said...

This has always struck me as one of Bernie's most "Randy Newman-esque" lyrics. I mean, "Texan Love Song" might be the best song Randy Newman never wrote. It almost anticipated Newman's next album, "Good Ol' Boys."

Johnny B said...

You're absolutely right- I had not made that connection! Good Old Boys is my favorite Newman album.