Driving Back to Mississippi From Alabama
With Only FM Radio
So the man who’s the subject of this song has cheated on the woman who’s singing it and she’s gonna [stifled laugh] tear the mud flaps off his truck. I made that up. You know what I mean. She’s gonna destroy his property and… you know… take a [laughter] dump on his porch swing. [Laughter.] And everybody’s gonna know who’s boss now!
There’s this kinda—there’s this celebration of, uh, you know, just trashing a guy’s property. You know, he deserves it in the song, of course.
So I just heard another one of those. A second example of that narrative. So that’s gotta be a genre. And I know it’s been a genre for a while. It puts me in mind of… Loretta Lynn, of course. Goin’ back to Loretta Lynn, she was always ready to beat up a rival for her husband’s affection. And I heard, I think, a Reba M—is that a Reba McEntire song? “When Whoever’s In New England’s Through With You”? [Lip smack.] Because that’s an opposite kind of a song. That’s the flipside of that genre, which is more in line with the Dolly Parton song “Jolene.” The narrator of the song “Jolene” is begging and pleading for this other woman not to take her man just because she can.
Now, Loretta Lynn would never beg and plead like that. She’s just like, “Get out of here, I’m gonna give you two black eyes and… throw you down the stairs.”
She doesn’t care.
So the Reba McEntire song, if that is by Reba McEntire—it’s, it’s a well-constructed song! But the chorus… which I kept hoping would change. I had vague memories of this song from when it was popular, but… I couldn’t remember what the story was. And I kept thinking, “Is this gonna…” You know, “I hope this is gonna change!” I mean, “I hope, uh…” [sniff] “… in one of these choruses the words will be altered slightly so she’s not saying every time that she’ll be patiently, sweetly waiting for a man to come back, you know, whenever Boston…”
What are the lyrics?
She keeps saying, “I’ll be…” You know. “… sitting here with my little sweet hands folded.” I paraphrase. “I’m just gonna…” You know. “Go ahead and do it with however—how many ladies you want, as long as you come back to me eventually…” Uh, “on your own schedule. Please don’t make a rush of it.” That’s the message of that song.
Oh, Loretta Lynn would spit on that.
Of course, Loretta Lynn, I think, supported Donald Trump, but I’ll let Loretta Lynn do whatever she wants.
Uhhhhoooohhhhhhh, boy. Almost to my next exit.
Ohhh, this exit leads us to, uh, Collins, which, as I’m sure you know, is the childhood home of Gerald McRaney, TV’s Major Dad. Gerald McRaney.
Here we go, we’re takin’ the exit…
I don’t know if you can hear the blinker but I turned on the blinker in accordance with all traffic safety laws…
[Turn signal. Sniff.]
Now we’re goin’ slowly down the sloping, spinning whirligig… [turn signal] of the American interstate system.
And here we are!
Why sh—any time now, we’ll be… I don’t know how far we are from Major Dad’s house, but… or his town… but we’re goin’ in his direction! And that’s all that matters.
I bet Major Dad would’ve voted for Donald Trump.
I mean the character Major Dad. I think Gerald McRan—is Gerald McRaney conservative? I don’t know why I suddenly think that.
Ohhhhh, no. It’s a trailer full of calves. Little baby cows, I mean, of course. What else would I mean?
Oh, I gotta get past these cows, I can’t look ‘em in the eye anymore. I know what I’ve done to your relatives.
I know in my heart I shouldn’t eat an animal. But I don’t think I’m ever gonna stop.
I do not that which I would. Or whatever St. Paul said.
[Road roar. Road bumps.]
“I am not what I am.” That’s what Iago said. Maybe.
Are my glasses dirty? Or is it just the spots in front of my eyes acting up?
I have a lot of spots in front of my eyes. I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned it yet.
You know, here’s an identical cross to one I saw near the beginning of our trip the other day. I—they—there must be a company that sells these enormous metal crosses with the… kind of… peak on them like the roof of a house! Uh, I’m much closer to this one. Maybe I should stop here. It’s a catfish restaurant in the shape of a… really it’s as big as a barn… bigger than a barn! It’s like the hangar where they built the Spruce Goose. It’s got another big cross nailed to the front of it, too. That must be the most Christian catfish… you could ever eat! Jesus did feed the crowd loaves and fishes.
[Rapid road bumps.]
But anyway I’ve seen two… nnnn… separated by, you know, hundreds of miles, two identical… uh… towering… metal crosses with peaked… uh… tops.
Which, I, I don’t recall being a feature of the original cross. [Laughter.] I mean, not that I saw the original cross.
The old gospel song asks, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”
My answer is “No, I was not there.”
But I do think the question is touching and intriguing.
Passing a funeral home on the right and a fireworks wholesale superstore on the left. “Black Cat Sold Here.” Black Cat always a popular fireworks brand, a wonderful logo, unforgettable.
“Old Timers Bar-B-Que” on the right. Oh, there’s no hyphen in “old timers.” Uh, barbecue spelled, uh, I don’t know how they spelled it. I think “bar,” yeah. Okay. Bar dash b dash Q-U-E. Uhhh, strange abbreviation which, as I think of it, is even longer than the actual word barbecue, by one character.
Yes, quite a curious way to abbreviate… well, I mean, obviously it’s not an abbreviation. Reads like an abbreviation, but it breaks just like a little girl.
That was my Bo—I did that in a Bob Dylan voice.
Jack Pendarvis has written five books. He won two Emmys for his work on the TV show Adventure Time. During a period of light employment, he spoke into a digital recorder whenever the mood struck him and transcribed the results, accumulating the two thousand pages from which this column has been extracted.