College of Veterinary Medicine

From the Dean

Country Punk

by Bryan 3. March 2012 11:44

I was reminded yesterday that I had not done a post about music lately.  Soooo... here goes.

At the Senior Brunch last May, the day before commencement, in my brief remarks to the graduates I mentioned that I was going to quote from one of my favorite singer-songwriters, Mike Ness, the leader of the punk band Social Distortion.  From a senior in the back corner somewhere came a resounding "Whoooo...YEAH!!" (I couldn't identify who it was, but she fessed up at our alumni reception last week in Las Vegas).  I was saying something to the students about not passing up opportunity, and this line from the chorus of the song, The Rest of Our Lives from one of his solo albums, Cheating at Solitaire, has always been a favorite of mine for its twist on a well-known schmaltzy phrase − "...we'll spend each day like it's the last day of the rest of our lives."

I think the best term for his solo efforts is country punk, and it ain't your grandpa's pedal steel and country beat; check out Ballad of a Lonely Man or The Devil in Miss Jones.  And I think Johnny Cash probably would appreciate Social Distortion's take on Ring of Fire, as would Hank Sr. regarding their cover of his Six More Miles (you gotta love an accordion in a punk band).  Considering the place of Hank Sr. and Johnny in the evolution of country music, I think these are appropriately covered by a band better known for this.

For another of my favorite bands of this ilk, read on:

The Waco Brothers are the country punk alter ego of a group of British expat musicians who have adopted Chicago as home, including leader Jon Langford of the Mekons.  A couple of their earlier albums, WacoWorld and Cowboy in Flames, are among my all time favorites.  Check out Harm's Way from their first album, To The Last Dead Cowboy, or Better Everyday from New Deal, or Pigsville and Red Brick Wall (song starts @ about 1:15) from WacoWorld, or Fox River from Electric Waco Chair.  And, George Jones never sounded like this.

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