I've always been geared towards songs with great and/or inventive lyrics. Maybe its because I write, but I just can't latch on to instrumentals or songs with a whole lot of repetition and endless doo wahs. If the rhymes make me laugh--you can bet the song will end up on my mp3 player. This also leads me to accumulate a varied selection of music genres.
That said, I've noticed among my friends and acquaintences that country music is either loved or hated. And given some of the bubblegum country that most people identify with the genre, I can't really blame a lot of them for hating it. Robbie Fulks is a completely different animal. In my mind, his music is the way country music should be--dealing with sin, misfortune, depravity, and earth the way few other genres would dare.
I was first exposed to Robbie Fulks while watching PBS, sitting on the floor of my grandmother's den when my mom and I were living with her for awhile. Out of the bowels of public programming came "She took a lot of pills and died" in concert, a song that seemed completely impossible at the time: to be hearing it on PBS, and to be hearing it at all in my grandmother's house. Not that the song is explicit, it just so happily spins the tale of a young starlet's fall from fame into depression and suicide, I imagine that it would've greatly disturbed my grandmother (and many watchers of PBS) if she had had her hearing aid turned up.
But the inspiration for this post is not that first and dear song I heard of Fulk's, it is the "Scrapple" song. Not only did it win my heart for being a tribute to a loaf of discarded pig parts, but what other poet could successfully put together the story so well? An example:
"Well, way down yonder by the port cocher
Billy's got his hands in Betty-Sue's share
Shakin and a screamin(?) at the Roadmaster
We can see him but we can't see her
Well, mama's in the kitchen and she might see
'Billy better leave your sister be'
But he jumps from the Buick to the dinin' room
When he gets a whiff of that pig perfume."
How can you not love a song that talks about pig perfume? Now, seriously, if this doesn't convince you that Robbie Fulks is something special, head on over to his Myspace page and have a listen to some of the songs there.