Friday, May 11, 2012

David Frizzell -- "I'm Gonna Hire a Wino" (1982)


Then you can slap my bottom
Every time you tell a joke
Just as long as you keep tipping 
I'll laugh until you're broke

Based on these lines alone, you'd think that this song is sung by a cocktail waitress or stripper or some other poor woman who has to be nice to the lecherous old drunks who leer at and paw her every night because she depends on tips to make a living.  But you'd be wrong, as our guest writer du jour, Kerri Griffin, will explain.

Kerri is a friend and former colleague who "retired" from being a lawyer several years ago.  After having a baby in 2010, she started a blog.  That blog, which focuses on football and recipes (an interesting combination), is titled "Naptime Huddle" -- the name refers to the fact that she only has time to post when her son is napping.  The football posts often discuss football rules because Kerri is not only a football fan, but also became a youth football official a few years ago.  Click here to check out "Naptime Huddle."

I'm proud to have been a guest writer for "Naptime Huddle."  I wrote a post about football references in rap music.  And I also contributed my delicious and healthy recipe for gazpacho.  Click here if you'd like that recipe.

Kerri has returned the favor by contributing a wonderful guest post to 2 or 3 lines.  Kerri, take it away:

My husband likes to make fun of my Random Thought Generator, the name I’ve given to whatever mechanism in my brain comes up with my off-the-wall thoughts/ideas/schemes.  Whenever my mouth spits out one of these Random Thoughts (e.g., “How do they get potato chip bags so puffy?”), he’ll make a noise like the sound your computer makes when it’s thinking really hard—Whrrrr, click click click.
Such is the sound effect you have to imagine as I describe the sequence of events that gave me the idea for this post.  Recently, we and another couple were visiting friends who live in a wooded area near Annapolis, Maryland.  Our son, who’s 21 months old, needed a diaper change after playing outside for a while, so I took him inside the house.  
When I pulled his pants down, I was horrified to see that a tick had bitten him; it had just attached so it wasn’t difficult for my friend to pull it out with tweezers while I held his hand.  
Filled-up female tick (left)
When we rejoined the group outside I told them about our son’s new blood-sucking friend.  The other couple there asked me if I listened to country music and if I had heard the song, "I Want to Check You for Ticks."

[Editor's note: my daughters, who somehow grew up to become country-music fans, told me that this song -- officially titled "Ticks" -- was a big hit for Brad Paisley in 2007.  It's a smarmy little ditty about a guy who tells a sweet young thing that he's been admiring that if she'll take a drive with him out into the sticks for some you-know-what, he'll promise to check her for ticks when they are done.  It has classy lines like "The only thing allowed to crawl all over you when we get there is me" and "You never know where [a tick] might be/There's lot of places that are hard to reach."]



I no longer follow country music -- or any style of music -- with any regularity, so I hadn’t heard of that song.  However, their question put me in a nostalgic mood.  
I was actually a big country music fan growing up.  I suppose it was in my blood, as my parents both grew up in Georgia, and I was born in Houston.  My favorite country artists were the big names at the time:  Kenny Rogers, Reba McEntire, Ronnie Milsap, Alabama, Randy Travis and The Judds, to name a few.  
In fact, until junior high school (around 1989), my radio dial was never even tuned to a “pop” music or rock station ("She Drives Me Crazy" by the Fine Young Cannibals marked my musical conversion).  In the words of Barbara Mandrell, I was definitely country when country wasn’t cool.

Reba McEntire (circa 1989)
There was a favorite song of mine, however, that was not a hit for any of the big names I followed.  I was very young when it was released, but on those rare occasions when it was played on the radio, I'd yell at my parents to turn it up.  I never even knew who had sung it until my conversation at that woodsy get-together reminded me of it and inspired me to do some research.
That song is David Frizzell's "I’m Gonna Hire a Wino."  

[Editor's note: David Frizzell was born in El Dorado, Arkansas in 1941.  El Dorado was also the birthplace of Baseball Hall of Famer Lou Brock.  I have a cousin who played baseball in the Cardinals' minor-league system for a number of years.  Once summer, he was injured while playing for the Cardinals' farm team in Little Rock, and travelled from there to St. Louis to see a few games.  When he visited the team's clubhouse, Brock -- who was a major star -- remembered him and was very kind to him.  He asked if my cousin was playing for Tulsa -- the Triple-A team -- or the Double-A team, the Arkansas Travelers.  When my cousin said he was playing for Arkansas, Brock mentioned the motto on Arkansas license plates  -- "Land of Opportunity" -- then noted he had grown up in Arkansas.  "First opportunity I got," Brock continued, "I got the hell out of Arkansas."]
"I'm Gonna Hire a Wino" tells a simple story: fed up with her husband spending his paycheck at a bar and stumbling home drunk for the umpteenth time, a long-suffering wife adopts an “If you can't beat ‘em, join ‘em” strategy.  Instead of kicking the bum out on his keister, she decides to turn their home into a bar (or, in country parlance, “honky tonk”) -- complete with a TV to watch football games on, a good selection of beers, and plenty of hard-boiled eggs and pretzels to munch on -- where the husband and his buddies can spend their money (which she’ll deposit in the bank while he’s nursing his hangover the next day).

Don't forget to stock Slim Jims!
[Editor's note: call me crazy, but this sounds like a win-win to me.  And I'm betting that Kerri's husband feels the same way.]

Initially, I wasn’t sure if this song merited a 2 or 3 lines post.  Really, it just seemed like another of those amusing yet true-to-life moments whose essence can only be captured by country music.  
But when I did my research, I learned more than I expected, and now I have a new perspective on this folksy tune. . . .
In the next 2 or 3 lines, Kerri will tell us -- to borrow a catchphrase (and a dramatic pause) from the late Paul Harvey -- the rest . . . of the story.

Here's "I'm Gonna Hire a Wino":



Here's a link you can use to buy the song from Amazon:



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