Friday, April 16, 2021

DOUBLE ENTENDRES: IF I SAID YOU HAD A BEAUTIFUL BODY........'d probably barf, that certainly being also my reflex response to this nadir of kitsch, a song so ghastly I cannot bring myself to say the whole title out loud. So, then, the Bellamy Brothers, what can you possibly say, how can you possibly defend this massively selling worldwide hit, a Billboard country chart topper in 1979, and 39 in the entire reckoning? Hell, it hit a national number 2 in the UK, seemingly on the back of it's initial success amongst the record buying public of Northern Ireland. Apart from offering your gratitude, that is, to all of those with such execrable taste.

Harsh? Well, maybe, but please understand where I was at the cusp of the 1970s into 80s. I was possibly alone amongst my chums in having a penchant for country music. By which I mean country-rock, I should explain, never "& western", not that dreck, no sir. So the Burritos, Pure Prairie League, New Riders, Poco and all their kindred steel-tinged spirits. And my friends and family would know that, themselves suspicious and wary even of whenever Bernie Leadon took centre stage in the Eagles, who were as country as their mainstream ears could ever stray. A little beyond, in truth. But, bless them, they would look out for me and point me in the direction of where they construed my taste to lie. Which meant the fecking Bellamy Brothers. The chances were that they would themselves like it, the o so witty play on words, the clever chat up line to trot out at the disco's close. They would make an exception to the genre on that occasion, maybe thinking I wasn't so strange after all. No, no, no. 

It was only as I recalled my full unadulterated hatred of this song that I remembered there had been a time when their name had not led me to rage, with their earlier and other hit single, 1976's 'Let Your Love Flow', a pleasant enough ditty, if a little anodyne. So they weren't necessarily all bad, although I discover today that song was written not by them, but by one of Neil Diamond's roadies, something that would have, had I known then, immediately flagged up another of my instant red flag prejudices. You can stuff  Diamond's reappraisal and Rick Rubin helmed rehabilitation. Still irredeemable nonsense. But, it set me to thinking, given the theme of this piece, and the brothers appropriation of the, in his hands, mildly amusing Groucho Marx line, who knows how they could have taken the title themselves? Eeeow, Richard Hell, eat your heart out.....

Of course, I know nothing much about the Bellamys, and am sure they are decent enough coves. Indeed I suspect they are still going, with a no doubt popular move into Christian music along the way, possibly necessitating a humble apology as they drag out the old warhorse, with sly and knowing glances being exchanged across the probably line dancing audience. I hope they promise, beyond that ill-considered lapse in taste, part of their hot-headed youth, and to stick to more wholesome fare, and to single entendres. Like this:

So, fast forward forty years, and I find myself quite liking the "& western", classic Grand Ol' Opry being now something I can derive pleasure from, especially mawkish country weepie duets. Of course, I still love all the old stuff I did back then too, and also keep my ear to the ground for newer flavours of country, from banjo jam band fusioneers like Leftover Salmon to sassy songstresses like Margo Price. I guess you are expecting me now to now offer my respect, grudging or otherwise, to the Bellamy Brothers and similar "Hat" acts? 

If I said your song was a crock'o'shite, would you hold it against me?