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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Culture update: May 2006

Tonight, with blogger Rob Farley of Lawyers, Guns and Money (and University of Kentucky), I attended the WFPK Listener Appreciation Concert featuring Alejandro Escovedo, the Yonder Mountain String Band, Alexi Murdoch, Dr. Ralph Stanley and His Clinch Mountain Boys, and the Drive By Truckers.

All were entertaining, but the Truckers were quite special. They are a rock band on the top of their game, singing personal songs reflecting a slice of American social, political and economic life.

They are a southern band, from Alabama, arguably with their finger on the pulse of red state America. The people in their songs are used to living with guns, working at Walmart, marrying young, taking crystal-meth, having lots of children, etc. Many of the characters in their songs talk about economic class, and the "rich folks" aren't necessarily to be envied.

These are some of the lyrics to their song "Outfit," in the voice of a father to a son:
I learned not to say much of nothing and I figured you already know
but in case you don’t or maybe forgot, I’ll lay it out real nice and slow

Don’t call what your wearing an outfit. Don’t ever say your car is broke.
Don’t worry about losing your accent, a Southern Man tells better jokes.
Have fun but stay clear of the needle. Call home on your sister’s birthday.
Don’t tell them you’re bigger than Jesus, don’t give it away.
The second time they sing that chorus, the "accent" line is changed to "don’t sing with a fake British accent. Don’t act like your family’s a joke."

The people in Trucker songs are Walter Russell Mead's Jacksonians.

Many Truckers songs have overtly political lyrics -- and the band is apparently not happy with the way things are going.

If the Truckers come to your town, check 'em out.

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