Saturday, September 13, 2008

18. The Correct Use of the Homocidal Parenthesis (The Lovin' Machine, Johnny Paycheck)

Yes, at first glance, everything seems perfect fine in Johnny Paycheck's world. He loves his mother, Hank One, and his woman, in that order. No word on whether he had a dog, but if he did, the dog's name was Tick and Tick liked to sleep on the porch pretty much around the clock. No word as well on whether he had a gun, or what he would have named her. History has its opinion on the matter, but has kept its counsel.

What History will not and indeed cannot remain silent about is what would eventually happen to the fresh-faced, turtleneck-wearing Paycheck. Say his name to most Folk who Listen and the first thing that they will think of is Outlaw Country Johnny Paycheck, the man who empowered a generation with his hymn to either Marx or Engels entitled "Take This Job and Shove It." That Johnny Paycheck was a cocaine walnut. Years of incredibly bad living and even worse choices had caved his god-damn face in. I'm not saying that his songs of the period aren't worthy. I personally like "15 Beers," which describes breakfast in the spacious Paycheck manse.

Ah, but couldn't it be said that he was doomed from jump? After all, he got his name from a go-nowhere palooka. And when you look at the song titles on his early albums... well, clearly, Mssr. Paycheck always had a certain... shall we say, 'free-spiritness' on his mind.

Yes, at first glance, everything seems fine in Johnny Paycheck's world. Look at these song titles, shorn of their parentheses. "Pardon Me." "He's In a Hurry." "It Won't Be Long." Christ, that could be a Peter Paul and Mary side.

And now, let us see the full song titles. "Pardon Me (I've Got Someone To Kill)." "He's In a Hurry (To Get Home to My Wife)." "It Won't Be Long (And I'll Be Hating You)." Who they hell do you imagine says, politely, "Pardon me, (it's been a pleasure talking to you and I value your time), but unfortunately I must abridge our conversation because I have someone to kill." I'll tell you who: a man with a moral code who could give a flying fuck at a rolling donut what the hell you think. The fact that he, at the end of the song, casually and coolly mentions that not only is he going to kill his wife, her lover, but also himself is merely icing on the cake. Euronymous would have quite correctly spit up his creepy satanic lutefisk if Johnny Paycheck had but coughed in the same room as him. GG Allin would have tried to act cool, but a blink from Paycheck would have sent him scurrying for his pastor. The only person possibly as shitkicking is David Allen Coe, who is currently railing your mother while snorting your pappy's ashes. Paycheck had the advantage of not being a racist cocksucker. When Johnny Paycheck died, the A-11 slot on every jukebox rusted and crumbled, and Pabst went flat across the nation. It is safe to say we will not see his likes again, least not on the radio.

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