I’ve been criticized for not taking Bluegrass seriously and disrespecting the music because good bluegrass music makes me want to dance. It’s fun music. Not just fun, it’s also funny. Bluegrass has a well-established sense of humor. To prove it, I asked some of its practitioners to provide me with their favorite funny songs . These are all real songs (and no complaining that some aren’t strictly bluegrass). Thanks to everyone who contributed a favorite. This list is FAAAAR from complete!
Mother’s Not Dead, She’s Just Playing Possum by the Rarely Herd, a happy classic, this came from Banjo player Rita Ponder. Mama is alive and well. “We are not sad because mama did not die.”
You Can’t Have Your Kate and Edith Too, a Statler Brothers favorite, contributed by Phil Salazar. A double date creates problems: “I found your big hairy hand holding on to the hand I was trying to hold.” Phil also recommended I’ve Got Tears in My Ears (From Lying On My Back in My Bed While I Cry Over You). There’s the epic line “If I should get water on the brain, you will know you’re the one who is to blame.”
I’m My Own Grandpa – by Ray Stevens – this song about a dysfunctional family was a favorite at the Blythe festival several years back. Ray Stevens is also responsible for the Mississippi Squirrel Revival wherein a squirrel runs up a parishioner’s pant leg, and “Harv thought he had a weed eater loose in his Fruit-Of-The-Looms”.
Five Pounds of Possum – I learned this at Merlefest some years ago, a song about the culinary delights of Road Kill. “I think the time has come now to go from Dim to Bright.” Another Merlefest favorite is I Met My Baby in the Porta John Line, about a true life adventure at a bluegrass festival. “My eyes were floating with love on my mind.”
A Matter of Policy is a favorite by Bluegrass, Etc. wherein a church committee is required to review everything, including the Judgment Day, at the First Naza-Metho-Bapti-Costal, Seventh Day Orthodox Lutheryterian Non-Denominational Church of our Lady of the Mind. I hope we got the name right.
How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away? – by Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks – Thank you, Chris Webb for this classic.
If My Nose Was Runnin’ Money I’d Blow It All on You – by the Moron Brothers – Larry Lewis contributed this sentimental favorite.
You Never Even Called Me By My Name by David Allan Coe – The perfect country and western song — it has it all: mama, trains, trucks, prison, getting drunk. “I was drunk the day my mom got out of prison, and I went to pick her up in the rain/ But before I could get to the station in my pickup truck/ She got run over by a damned old train.” Classic poetry.
Put Another Log on the Fire– by Tompall Glaser – Why would someone leave this guy? “Don’t I let you wash the car on Sunday? Don’t I warn you when you’re gettin’ fat?”
And a Johnny Cash favorite: Flushed From the Bathroom of Your Heart . “At the Indianapolis of your heart I lost the race.”
Gwen Koyanagi and Claire Wagner remind us that old timey music has some great titles: Sal’s Got Mud Between Her Toes, Shove the Pig’s Foot a Little Closer to the Fire, I Buried My Wife and Danced on Her Grave, The Cow That Ate the Blanket, Good Morning to Your Nightcap, Pull the Knife and Stick It In Again, If There Weren’t Any Women in the World, Touch Me If You Dare, Lost in the Loop (Liz Carroll), Fanny Power, The Floating Crowbar, Upstairs in a Tent (Finbar Dwyer), The Fiddler’s Drunk and the Fun’s All Over (Henry Reed). Who comes up with these names? Drunk musicians?
And finally, there is the Tongue-in-Creek Band (). They bill themselves as Weird Al Yankovic meets The Grand Ol’ Opry. Their hits include the perennial favorite I’ll Wear Your Underwear Tonight, Keep on the Funny Side, and Man of Constant Borrow.
So who says Bluegrass has no sense of humor?