Written by Matthew James Alderman, Tommy Cecil, and Jared Mullins
Hey, remember that one good Bubba song?
Every era of country music I can remember has some idea or theme that gets run into the ground, with everyone feeling obligated to record a song in that vein. Right now, it’s the party songs. Before that, we had redneck pride, patriotic and religious songs, and post-Shania empowerment anthems.
But before all of that, there was the redneck humor era, which had Jeff Foxworthy doing a duet with the likes of Alan Jackson. During this time, there were a lot of Bubba songs, and they were mostly painful to listen to. Diamond Rio’s “Bubba Hyde.” Shenandoah’s “If Bubba Can Dance (I Can Too.)” Even Pam Tillis sang about Bubbas, and it was painfully embarrassing to listen to.
But there was one good Bubba song. Mark Chesnutt recorded it. Dennis Linde wrote it. “Bubba Shot the Jukebox” was funny, sure. But it was in on the joke, and the character was interesting and the writing was witty. When accused of reckless discharge of a gun, a bewildered Bubba responds to the cops, “I ain’t reckless. Hell, I hit just where I was aiming.”
It was an example of how a great writer, paired with a great singer, can still be successful within the constraints of an idea or theme that doesn’t typically lend itself to substance or creativity.
Jake Owen’s “Good Company” accomplishes something similar within the confines of the “let’s hang out and party” genre. The lyrics have some genuinely fresh images, particularly in the second chorus, with references to throwing bean bags in the pool and my personal favorite, “Robby’s painting on the brisket. It’s a K.C. masterpiece.” B.Y.O.B. means, “Bring yourself over, babe.” The guitar is out, too, and it’s a Gibson being used for “some old time pickin’.” Great rhyme.
Owen delivers the song in a way that is appropriate for its frothiness. He’s not trying to make a backyard Saturday afternoon sound more important than it actually is. As for the arrangement, there are some cool horns that show up, giving a fresher sound than songs like this usually have.
All in all, it shows how talent and restraint can combine to make something somewhat interesting out of an idea that’s been run into the ground. Imagine what Jake Owen and these writers could do with a more unique concept. I hope that we get to find out.