Make It A Stiff One
Ever since cavemen invented guitars and someone took a chance on that nasty fermented stuff swishing around at the bottom of a flask and discovered the twin joys and perils of alcohol, music has served as a vehicle for sharing some of the lows experienced as a result of hitting the bottle. The woes of booze is a subject whose genesis has found a particularly rich history in country music, which has never shied away from songs that celebrate the many ways one can fuck up in life.
Putting together a list of Alcohol Blues is a difficult task because there are so many songs to choose from; one could compile a Top Ten from David Allen Coe and/or Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard and George Jones and Johnny Cash alone. OK, individually. Whiskey features prominently, as you’d expect, but so does Tequila, and let’s not forget George Jones’s “White Lightning.”
Therefore, The Inky Jukebox presents this list of ten Drinking Songs that you might have overlooked. The list has been narrowed down by these criteria: the song must be about something that has gone or will go badly wrong as a result of drinking, and it isn’t simply about beer. You could have a list about beer all by itself. Usually, though, songs about beer are happy and involve partying and having a good time at the bar with babes. Likewise, this list avoids, where possible, songs written about bars or being at a bar — there are plenty of those too.
This is not a happy list. This is a cautionary tale.
- “Alcohol” – Brad Paisley
That being said, we’ll start with a humorous take from a song whose title needs no explanation. It’s an instant classic, and this video is a compilation from Paisley’s 2010 H2O tour, where the song proved to be a rowdy, raucous finale for an audience of very drunken people who have paid more than the price of admission for cheap beer and/or those hideous “frozen concoctions” that help one hang on. (To what? Not your dignity, that’s for sure. Ladies.)
- “Sometimes A Man Takes A Drink” – Trace Adkins
Trace Adkins sings this beautifully, but The Inky Jukebox can’t find him doing it on YouTube, so here is the song’s co-writer Larry Cordle doing it at a WSN event. All good country songwriting features juxtapositions; this song makes the most of a clever twist: “Sometimes a man takes a drink / but sometimes a drink takes a man.” So true, brother, so true.
- “Ten With A Two” – Kenny Chesney
- “Whiskey and You” – Tim McGraw (Chris Stapleton)
The best-known version of this song is by Tim McGraw, but that's just because he's such a superstar. It was written by Chris Stapleton, late of the bluegrass band The Steeldrivers. Here he is singing it the way only one who write it can. Absolutely beautiful.
- “High Cost of Living” – Jamey Johnson
Jamey Johnson knows from drinking yourself into a hole to chase a broken heart. He’s also a master of the twisted lyric: “The high cost of living / Ain’t nothing like the cost of living high.” The Inky Jukebox prefers this bit of live performance to the “official” video, which features some skanky-looking dude and a car and a girl etc.
- “This Bottle (In My Hand)” – David Allen Coe and George Jones
It’s David Allen Coe and George Jones, y'all. What more do you want? Drunken Squirrels?
- “Whiskey Won The Battle” – Ashton Shepherd
This song builds steam as it gathers energy like an incoming storm that tears to shreds everything around it. This is a fall-down-can’t-get-up drunk you know will hurt in the morning. Or for years.
- “Guilty” – Bonnie Raitt
Ain’t nothing like the sound of drunk-ass era Bonnie Raitt singing while drunk off her ass. The Inky Jukebox loves this live recording from some rowdy bar somewhere whose patrons that night got treated to an awesome rendition of a classic drowning-your-sorrows song. “It takes a whole lot of medicine darlin’ / For me to pretend that I’m somebody else.” Yep, Randy Newman wrote that, go figure. Sing it, sister.
- “You And Tequila” – Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter
- “Hair of the Dog” – Shooter Jennings
* * * * * * *
“Whiskey Lullaby” – Brad Paisley and Allison Krauss
“Whiskey Bent and Hell Bound” – Hank Williams Jr.
“Sunday Morning Coming Down” – Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson
“Wasted” – Carrie Underwood
“Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off” – Joe Nichols