Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Yes, today's cartoon is rather shamelessly "of the moment," so I thought I needed something decidedly un-trendy, even anti-trendy to balance it out...

That'll do nicely, Red.

Red Sovine (1918-1980) (awesome real name: Woodrow Wilson Sovine) was a popular West Virginia-born country singer of the 1960s and 1970s who specialized in making incredibly depressing songs about death and heartbreak, often involving truck drivers. Many of Red's most famous songs were "recitations," i.e. spoken-word pieces which combined a narrative poem with a musical backing. In fact, Sovine dubbed himself the King of the Narrations. Like many, I discovered Red's unmistakable work thanks to a frequently-aired TV commercial for a posthumous greatest hits album:

You can see how a commercial like that might stick in a person's mind. It's hard to imagine someone like Red Sovine making it in the slick, image-obsessed world of country music today. That's a lot of what I like about the guy, as shamelessly sentimental and hokey as his records might seem. He made more conventional C&W recordings, but to really know Red Sovine is to listen to his recitations. Here's his most famous and successful record, "Teddy Bear," a song whose narrative is so pitiful (handicapped boy with dead trucker father and poverty-stricken mother) as to put Charles Dickens himself to shame.

You think that's sad? Dig this next one. (And listen for a reference to zombies at the 3:20 mark.)

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