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Fiddlin’ Around – March 2018

Rhythm and BoozeNowadays it’s not really politically correct to sing or write songs about drinking or getting drunk. And I get it — booze can wreck peoples’ lives, and it is at the root of many sad stories. But here’s the deal — even though people love to sing, most folks won’t sing outside of the shower without something to relax their inhibitions. A little shot of courage. So, after a few shots we join in on the chorus to Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down, or we torture the folks at the local karaoke bar with a weepy rendition of Scotch and Soda. But looking back, it all started when we were teenagers on the band bus facing our fears with 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall. Simple enough lyrics for teens or impaired adults to remember. Drunks do love to sing, and most often they love to sing songs about being drunk. It’s some kind of weird rule.

But there are some pretty great lyrics written either about drinking, or are written while drinking. It seems to be a universal impulse, as most countries have their favorite traditional drinking songs. Witness the Irish! They must have thousands of drinking songs, some of them going back centuries. And a sideways drunk Irishman has an amazing ability to actually remember all the words. The Star Spangled Banner, the U.S.A.’s national anthem, was adapted from an old English drinking song by John Stafford Smith! German drinking songs are called Trinklieder, and there are plenty of them. In Sweden there are specific drinking songs for Xmas, midsummer, and other national events. The Aussies love to swill and spill beer to their rowdy outback tales. Russians can’t do a shot of vodka without singing about it. The record of drinking songs dates to the 11th century, and they were probably around earlier than that. Folks like to sing with their pals, so every fraternity or sports club or ethnic group or tribe or bunch of pirates or sorority girls have their favorite songs. Broadway playwrights and country music singers and rock stars and folkies all sing about gettin’ drunk, and often these songs turn into anthems that everyone knows the words to.

Jimmy BuffettIt’s kinda embarrassing, but I’ll bet more people know the words to Jimmy Buffett’s Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw than they do to Home on the Range or How Great Thou Art. Jimmy has had a huge career selling the dream of sailing happily through life with a bottle in your hand. His song Pirate Looks at 40 is a good example:

I’ve been drunk now for over 2 weeks. I passed out and I rallied and I sprung a few leaks. But I’ve got to stop wishin’ — got to go fishin’ — I’m down to rock bottom again. Just a few friends, just a few friends.

Then there’s his ultimate drinking song, Wasting Away Again in Margaritaville.

Don’t know the reason, stayed here all season — with nothing to show but this brand new tattoo. But it’s a real beauty, a Mexican cutie, how it got there I haven’t a clue…

Another of his songs, A Lot To Drink About, laments modern day frustrations.

Watching the news only gives me the blues. There’s too much going wrong. It takes the likes of me to hit the re-boot key and write a high speed drinking song.

His first radio hit in decades was a fairly recent collaboration with Alan Jackson resulting in It’s 5:00 O’clock Somewhere! His song Boat Drinks is all about the freewheeling tropical lifestyle.

Waitress I need two more boat drinks, then I’m heading south ‘fore my dream shrinks. I gotta go where it’s warm — I gotta go where it’s WARM.

Can ya’ relate? Funny thing is, Jimmy doesn’t even drink anymore, but he’s still riding that tipsy wave.

Bottle burkaBuffett’s competition in writing about drinking comes from a lot of country artists, but Hank Williams Jr. has clearly followed A Family TraditionWhy do we drink, why do we roll smoke…— with songs like Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound and All My Rowdy Friends are Coming Over Tonight. After all, his Dad wrote the classic bar room sing-along There’s a Tear in My Beer.

Who knows, there’s probably a bunch of burka clothed Afghani women who get together over a bottle of illicit wine and sing their version of Loretta Lynn’s classic song, Don’t Come Home A’Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind’). Artists from Frank Sinatra (Drinking Again) to Willie Nelson (I Gotta Get Drunk) to George Thorogood (I Drink Alone) to Neil Diamond (Red Red Wine) to The Andrews Sisters (Rum and Coca Cola) have all counted on our shared misery and weakness for booze to elevate their fairly silly lyrics to the profound. My buddy Kim Carson wrote a song called I Only Like You When I’m Drinking, which is, of course, a pretty common morning-after sentiment. “When whiskey wraps all around my brain and I don’t know what I’m thinking…” We may play a set of sensitive, informative, poetic or well-crafted songs, but what gets people up dancing and singing along is Tequila Makes My Clothes Fall Off. Tom Waits, bless his pea-pickin’ pickled heart, wrote not only The Piano’s Been Drinking, but I’d Rather Have a Bottle in Front of Me Than a Frontal Lobotomy. That’s real poetry folks!

Tom WaitesThere’s plenty of places around here to drink, and I am thrilled to report that lots of those bars are now hosting live music. This is a welcome and nice change to the repetition and banality of discomovil crap or unrelenting techno stuff. Sorry if I sound like an old grump… Roca Verde, at the south end of Dominical, has the funny and excellent band The G String Cowboys every Thursday night, and they’ll most likely play their local hit song I’ve Got a Fresh Batch of Brownies and a Cold Imperial. Ben Jammin’ and the Howlers (including me!) play there every Friday night, and we will probably play the Jim Morrison song Roadhouse Blues — you know, the one that admonishes us to…

Keep your eyes on the road and your hands upon the wheel! Well I woke up this morning and I got myself a beer. The future’s uncertain and the end is always near!

So true, so true. Roca Verde is a wonderful large venue for dancing and listening, Tortilla Flats on the beach has live music occasionally, as does the newish brewery Fuego, and my late night favorite for troubadour type musicians and oddball Tico bands, The Rum Bar. There’s always an interesting and talented bunch of players mixing it up on Wednesday nights at Dos Locos, and often on Saturday afternoons either Jim Phillips, blues guitar player Robbie Clark, or country legend Ralph Simms and I will be playing there. Between the two of us, we know a kzillion drinking songs and don’t mind out of tune drunken sailors singing along! So get that Empty Glass (Peter Townsend) filled and Get Drunk and Be Somebody (Toby Keith). Ok, Ok — ya’ don’t need to get drunk — just get out and support the venues that provide live music and listen to the diverse musicians around here play their hearts out for you!

Take me to your blender! Leap and the net will appear! Jimmy Buffett

In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria. Ben Franklin

Basically I’m for anything that gets you through the night — be it prayer, tranquilizers, or a bottle of Jack Daniels. Frank Sinatra

I drank because I wanted to drown my sorrows, but now the damn things have learned to swim. Frida Kahlo

One Response to “Fiddlin’ Around – March 2018”

  1. toni blackburn said:

    Great article. I love reading”Fiddlin Around” every month.