Monday, March 20, 2017

David Allan Coe - Seeing Him Gave Me Chills!

My recent trip to the Blue Hair State was rife with close encounters of the culty kind!  Early in the trip, we cruised around downtown Clearwater, Florida, which has been completely fukkin' taken over by brainwashed lemmings in white shirts, blue pants and matching vests called Scientologists.  You could not swing a Tom Cruise breakdown without hitting one of these fukkers, hanging around multi-million dollar buildings doing their church thing, whatever the fuk that is.

But later in the week, I crossed paths with greatness, a cult hero in his own right.  And it felt good to be completely consumed into the worship! This experience is the reason I am pecking away at the keyboard today.  David Allan Coe is a legend.  The kind of legend of whom the majority of people in this country have never heard, or about whom they could give a shit.  The kind of legend that when you talk about him with a 55 year old guy who lives in the same part of Florida as DAC, that guy says, "I've never heard of him."   Half of you who read this today (maybe more than half) are probably waiting on the next few paragraphs to find out who the fuk is David Allan Coe. But first, a sampling of this weekend's show...

Seeing Coe on stage at the Iron Horse Saloon in Ormond Beach this weekend was chilling for a couple of reasons.  It was chilling because I have been listening to this fukker for a long time, but have never seen him live.  My buddy Tommy and I were walking along the rode toward the Iron Horse and I heard through the oak trees a voice that I thought sounded an awful lot like Coe.  Could it be?  I squeezed my way through the crowd of tattooed, bearded, life-worn brethren, straight past the bar.  I needed to see if I heard right.  Sure as a Sunday morning shit, there he was 20 yards from me sittin' on a stool softly strumming his Gibson Flying V as he told story after story.  With his obnoxious looking wig and grizzled, throaty baritone sound, the man commanded a crowd of loyalists, bikers staring at cowboys who were laughing at the hippies - literally straight out of his song, Long Haired Redneck.

It was also chilling because the 77 year old outlaw who used to ride his huge Harley onto the stage and curse at his fans, this day needed to be assisted off his stool and helped off stage by two guys, the seemingly permanent reminder of a near fatal car wreck four years ago to the day in Ocala, FL, when he ran a red light and was broadsided by a semi-truck.  It hit me kinda hard to watch this outlaw tough guy need so much help to take so much as one step.

The damage to Coe's Suburban in 2013.  How did he live?
So who the hell is David Allan Coe, you ask?
  • You might know his hits You Don't Have To Call Me Darling or Mona Lisa's Eyes.  Then again, you might not.  
  • You might know The Ride, his haunting tribute to Hank Williams.  Then again, you might not.  
  • You might know that he wrote Tanya Tucker's #1 hit Would You Lay With Me (In A Field of Stone).  Then again, you might not.  
  • You definitely know his most successful song, Take This Job and Shove It, but you probably thought Johnny Paycheck wrote it.   
Coe's been an outlaw since he was a 9 year old runt growing up in Akron, Ohio.  Coe spent 20 of his first 30 years in reform schools and other correctional facilities for crimes ranging from armed robbery to auto theft.  In 1967, after he was released from a three year stint at the Ohio State Penitentiary, he moved to Nashville to embark on a music career.  He lived out of a hearse that he parked in front of the Ryman Auditorium.  But his tattoos, outlandish performances, his criminal past and his go fuck yourself attitude did not conform to Nashville's uppity standards. He never would break into the mainstream, but his outlaw style quickly formed a cult following of country fans who were about tired of the Grand Ol' Opry's elitism.  He penned songs for Willie Nelson, George Jones and Tammy Wynette.  But he could never get his own records played on country radio...  the first two lines of Long Haired Redneck tells you all you need to know:  "Country DJs all think I'm an outlaw, and they'd never come to see me in this dive."

Coe could not give two shits about what Nashville thought of him.  He refused to change.  This only endeared him even more to his fans and strengthened his outlaw image.  In the 70's, DAC recorded a couple of underground albums that were explicitly confrontational, sexual and racist in nature.  He became embroiled in a feud with Jimmy Buffett after Buffett accused him of plagiarism with Divers Do It Deeper.  So he wrote the insulting Jimmy Buffett with lyrics like:

Now Jimmy's moved to Malibu with all those other stars 
He's not down at in Duval Street hangin' out in bars 
All them God damned tourist, got to be a bore. 
Jimmy Buffet doesn't live here any more

He also went off on Anita Bryant for her opposition to LGBT rights with Fuck Aneta Briant (misspelling intended to avoid lawsuits).  Google it, you'll like it.  No guesswork in Coe's meanings, that's for sure.  His career has had a few setbacks.  He has battled (and lost to) the IRS.  He toured with Grand Funk Railroad and Kid Rock.  He partnered with Dimebag Darrell of Pantera in the country metal collaboration Rebel Meets Rebel.  And through it all, he has played the Iron Horse Saloon every year, holding court over his most loyal of followers.

To truly understand what David Allan Coe represents, go to one of his shows.  The guy's stage sound totally sucks.  Trained musicians and singers would recoil at how he carries a note.  And yet, his following is undeniable!  Take note of the faces in the crowd and appreciate the stories those hardened wrinkles have to say.  Because he is not about the music - rather his music is his method of message.  He is 100% about the non-conformist way of life.  The Go Fuck Yourself I Ain't Changing For Anyone lifestyle.  The I Don't Give A Shit What You Think Of Me lifestyle.

And this weekend, I was up close and personal to a man who is the penultimate representation of what it means to stay true to yourself.  We all have scars and stories and imperfections.  We can choose to hide them or embrace them for making us whole.  David Allan Coe embraces them.  You may not ever even care to listen to him.  But he doesn't give a fukkin' shit!


  1. What kind of stains are those on her pillow

  2. Who's pillow? Lil Suzy Shallowthroat's? Finger Fuckin Sally's?