Of all the honky-tonkin’ hillbilly shit-kickin’ country-western stars ever to write a song about occupying a lonely bar stool, Moe Bandy is one of my favorites. And not just because he has a name that would be more appropriate for a Borscht Belt comedian. No, I love him because he sings mostly about honky tonk infidelity, and who doesn’t love a good cheatin’ song? He’s the King of Barstool Mountain, says it right in a song. He also delivers one of the finest lines in honky tonk mythology, to wit, “I just threw my last bottle at the juke box.” That, friends, is country music poetry at its best.
Bandy, a former rodeo bronco-buster and bull-rider turned sheet metal worker—a job he held for 12 years while trying to get his music career on track–finally broke and was huge in the late seventies and early eighties, but it’s been a while since any of his new songs have been played on country radio, which is his fault because he sanded off all his rough edges and got slick in order to stay abreast of the times, and it backfired. Now he stays close to his club in Branson, Missouri, and plays for a crowd that still loves to hear such cheatin’ numbers as “I Just Started Hatin’ Cheatin’ Songs Today” and “I Cheated Me Right Out of You.” To say nothing of the great “Just Good Ol’ Boys,” a non-cheating song on which he was joined by Joe Stampley—the pair that gave us “Where’s the Dress?,” an amusing novelty tune about Boy George that pissed off a lot of people, including Boy George himself.
I’m not going to lie to you; when he isn’t bemoaning the women he’s lost due to his thirst for liquor and wandering eye, he’s fully capable of singing maudlin numbers that I can’t abide. Like “Americana,” a slice of slick patriotic treacle that causes my gorge to rise. So awful it got played at George Bush’s inauguration, “Americana” is a celebration of small-town America and the virtues of patriotism, and it makes me feel like an America-hating commie son of a bitch, especially since I grew up in a small town and know damn well that far from being idyllic places to raise your kids they’re hotbeds of boredom, bigotry, and in-bred ignorance.