- Dave Thomas American-Statesman staff
If October is the time for all things spooky, perhaps I should emerge from my Spotify cocoon and and tune in to the radio and the mainstream. For there is nothing more terrifying to me than … Modern! Country! Music!
Or is there?
Sometimes at night, when the midnight drive home leaves me alone with my iPhone and only a few hundred cars crowding Slaughter Lane for no discernible reason … sometimes my classic country playlist turns monstrous.
Yes, some of these songs are horrible. From sexist and racist to schmaltzy to downright disturbing. Even (insert shrieking terror of the soul here) some of the songs we would, with less scrutiny, look back on fondly.
In the spirit of Halloween, here are 10 Terrifyingly Awful Classic Country Songs …
10. “You’ve Never Been This Far Before,” Conway Twitty
Consensual sex between young adult lovers? I guess that’s what Conway was singing about, but it doesn’t take but a little push for this to take on a creepy, predatory vibe. The look Conway gives you in that video above doesn’t help. Ew.
9. “If the South Woulda Won,” Hank Williams Jr.
OK, so I’m breaking the rules already. This 1988 song is not classic country, but it couldn’t be left off. “If the South woulda won, we’d have had it made,” Junior sings. Yeah. Unless you were black. Woulda been a little less than ideal then.
8. “Teddy Bear,” Red Sovine
I’m sorry, Red. I’m dying. Tragedy turns schmaltzy when you lay it on that thick.
7. “Mexican Joe,” Jim Reeves
He makes being an unemployed, carousing bandito sound so FUN! Ah, 1953 — when a song like this could be a No. 1 hit.
6. “He’ll Have to Go,” Jim Reeves
“Gentleman Jim” was kind enough to “tell the man to turn the jukebox way down low” as he called his girl from a honky-tonk and urged her send away his competition. Mmm-hmmm. Even in 1959, this sexist behavior didn’t get a pass. Jeanne Black answered in song a year later with “He’ll Have to Stay.” Drink up, Jim.
5. “Squaws Along the Yukon,” Hank Thompson
Oh, Hank. C’mon. This is painful. That I had to listen to the whole song for this story is now one of the regrets of my life.
4. “Kaw-Liga,” Hank Williams Sr.
“He always wore his Sunday feathers and wore a tommy-hawk …” would not pass for political correctness these days. But I have to admit Charley Pride’s cover of this song is among my guiltiest pleasures. I’m sorry. Years later somebody would say “Hey, we can do a song even more offensive with a lot less talent!” And that’s how we got Tim McGraw’s “Indian Outlaw.” Probably.
3. “Broad-Minded Man,” Jim Ed Brown
I wanted to put Donna Fargo’s “Funny Face” in this spot because I never did understand how that song became such a big hit. Seriously, it was the “Achy Breaky Heart” of 1972. But, I guess it’s not horrifying. Instead you get Jim Ed’s casual sexism.
2. “Fat Gal,” Merle Travis.
You probably just have to hear this one for yourself.
1. “The Party,” Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner
A friend of mine has been trotting out this song for a quarter of a century just to traumatize every gathering of friends that he can. It starts off as pretty typical late ‘60s country warbling and then falls from the cliffs of sanity in the last 60 seconds.