Satirical Songs

by

April 30, 2009

kinky-friedmanI’ve known about Kinky Friedman for some years now. Actually, I should be more specific and say that I’ve known Kinky Friedman’s name for quite some years now. Because, to be honest, the only thing I really knew about him until very recently is that Willie Nelson supported him for Texas Governor in 2006, which should have peaked my interest enough to research him back then.

It wasn’t until recently, after doing an Amazon search for stray Todd Snider songs, that I realized that the colorful and fascinating Friedman, while politically extreme at times, was quite the singing satirist. On the 2006 album Why The Hell Not…The Songs of Kinky Friedman, I discovered an incredible cast of artists (Willie Nelson, Todd Snider, Bruce Robison, Asleep at the Wheel, Delbert McClinton, Charlie Robison, Dwight Yoakam, Kevin Fowler & Jason Boland) doing covers of Friedman’s songs, many so sharp that I was more than a little taken aback at first. Through satire and, sometimes, even seriousness, Freidman offers a lot of social commentary that is often colorful and always intriguing.

Although Friedman’s original versions aren’t especially appe

aling to me, the tribute album is engaging. Two songs in particular caught my attention right away. Kevin Fowler’s cover of “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven” and Todd Snider’s version of “They Ain’t Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore” are both addictively catchy and amusing. Snider’s song would easily fit next to his own socially charged compositions while Fowler’s choice is performed with a charming cheekiness.

While it would be violating Country Universe’s comment policy to quote Todd Snider’s song that deals with racism, I will provide a sample of the lyrics from Fowler’s deliciously ridiculous ditty, which is hopefully extreme enough to be obviously satirical in nature as social commentary.

Verse 1: You uppity women I don’t understand
Why you gotta go and try to act like a man,
But before you make your weekly visit to the shrink
You’d better occupy the kitchen, liberate the sink.

Chorus: Get your biscuits in the oven and your buns in the bed
That’s what I to my baby said,
Women’s liberation is a-going to your head,
Get your biscuits in the oven and your buns in the bed.

Kinky Friedman’s brand of social commentary may be understandably too inflammatory and extreme for many people, but my call to Country Universe readers tonight is to recommend a satirical song that you find appealing.

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  1. Steve from BostonNo Gravatar says:

    I always got a kick out of Kinky Friedman, was not familiar with his actual music, just his appearances on TV for interviews, campaign stops etc..

    And the title of his tribute album, “Why the Hell Not.” ? I think that was his campaign slogan as well! :)

  2. Steve from BostonNo Gravatar says:

    Oh, and my suggestion for a great satirical song?

    Mark Chesnutt’s “Bubba Shot the Jukebox” was always my favorite…

    “a reckless discharge of a gun, that’s what the officer was claimin’
    Bubba hollered out ‘reckless hell! I hit just were I was aimin’ “

  3. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Yes, Kinky did use that as his campaign slogan, which I think is awesome.

    By the way, I’m not endorsing him, I just think his dark humor can be amusing, even if he’s a little insane.

  4. Paul DennisNo Gravatar says:

    Kinky is also a fine novelist,writing a string of quite amusing mystery novels starring (with one exception) Kinky himself as an extremely unusual private detective. While Kinky is only a mediocre singer, he is a first rate writer

    Similar in tenor to “Get Your Biscuits In The Oven (and Your Buns In The Bed)”, a fine piece of songsmithing, if ever there was one, is the Tompall Glaser classic “Put Another Log On The Fire”

  5. Steve from BostonNo Gravatar says:

    I am, I’m sorry he didn’t win! :)

  6. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Paul,,
    Ah, yes, “Put Another Log on the Fire.” My dad loves the ridiculousness of that song and passed it on to me.

    Speaking of my dad, I must get my love of satirical songs from him, now that I think of it. He’s also really amused by Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” and Mac Davis’ “Oh Lord, It’s Hard to Be Humble”, which, incidentally, amuse me as well.

  7. Erik NorthNo Gravatar says:

    Can David Allen Coe’s “You Never Even Call Me By My Name” (a.k.a. “The Perfect Country & Western Song”) be considered a satirical number?

  8. northtexasNo Gravatar says:

    I’d rather have Kinky as my governor then Rick “Let’s secede” Perry.

  9. J.R. JourneyNo Gravatar says:

    I wonder if Kinky would have been a Secessionist?

    Great write up, Leeann. I will be looking into the music and writings of this man as soon as I finish my Jack Clement research.

  10. Cutting the TreacleNo Gravatar says:

    My favorite country satire is “We Shall Be Free” by Garth Brooks.

  11. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    The definition of satire is:

    “the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.”

    Eric’s song fits the definition, but “We Shall Be Free” does not. It’s a good social commentary song though.

  12. Cutting the TreacleNo Gravatar says:

    My favorite line in the song is “When there’s only one race and that’s mankind”.

    That’s satire, through and through (at least I hope Garth wasn’t being serious; otherwise, the song is basically a cobbled-together collection of trite lines from some kind of awful (but is there any other kind) Norman Lear sitcom).

  13. Mike KNo Gravatar says:

    “Numbers” – Bobby Bare

    A satire on male chauvinism, plus it’s funny.

    “You and me could make 18, if your head’s on straight”

  14. Razor XNo Gravatar says:

    Don’t forget Vince Gill’s “Everybody’s Sweetheart”.

  15. LynnNo Gravatar says:

    Originally, I would have called Billy Joe Shaver’s song “If You Don’t Love Jesus (Go to Hell)” a satire because it cracks me up, but he truly didn’t intend to write it that way, so… lol.

    btw, Shaver was Kinky Friedman’s “spiritual advisor” on his last campaign. Who knows what that entailed…

  16. Leeann WardNo Gravatar says:

    Trite lines does not equal satire.

  17. KarlieNo Gravatar says:

    Would “No Show Jones” count? — a seemingly funny song about a pretty dark time in George’s career. I especially like the live versions when he throws in “Tammy had some sort of excuse she divorced George Jones.”

  18. Erik NorthNo Gravatar says:

    Another pair of songs that I think would count as satire are by no less than Ray Stevens, who had been doing this sort of thing for a living for almost 50 years(!):

    “Mississippi Squirrel Revival”

    “Would Jesus Wear A Rollex (On His Television Show)?”

    This last one he did at the height of all those televangelist scandals in 1987 that involved Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart. It was funny because it skewered the ungodly excesses of these holier-than-thou TV preachers who seemed incapable of practicing what they preached to everyone else. That is a perfect example of satire to me.

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