Only The Graves Are Real
Really like Otis Gibbs. His song, “Only The Graves Are Real” is about friends, real and fake, presumably in the music business. Here’s a pretty good video version of the song. Listening to it tickled something in my memory banks and I ended up listening to an old Hank Jr. song, “All In Alabama.” The song tells the story of Hank’s fall from Ajax Mountain and laments, “They said I’d never sing again, I learned a lot about my friends. Cause when you’re shot down and out, you don’t get many calls.”
You don’t get much farther apart than Otis Gibbs and Hank Jr. politically and now, I suppose, professionally. But they both know a lot about superficiality and the fleeting nature of relationships. Thanks to that lifetime deal Hank Jr. worked with Monday Night Football, it is hard for me to even think about him as a cutting edge outlaw. But he was. He went from touring around singing his dad’s songs to the beautiful blasphemy that is represented by songs like All In Alabama. Sitting here now, addicted to outlaw country, bluegrass and other forms of Americana, I know that Hank Jr. was one of the gateway drugs that led me to this addiction. (The Beverly Hillbillies theme song and the Darling family on Andy Griffith probably helped, too, but I digress.)
Anyway, I put Habits Old and New in the car and listened to it around town for a couple of days. It brought back memories of back road runs to buy beer, my favorite college bar and the look that most girls gave you if you put a Hank Jr. cassette in on a date. But I loved Hank Jr. back then. And he had several albums that were really good. Habits was one of them. Listening to it now, Dinosaur is a bit dated (you can’t really object to a song about making love to your drummer anymore, for example) but I do agree that we don’t all get into Donna Summer and I happen to know some old Hank Williams (Sr., Jr. and III) songs.
Cause you see I’m a dinosaur. Or I would be, except for what Hank was doing then is being done over and over again these days. In spades. The real Hank Jr. has gone on to Monday Night Football heaven and all that’s left is a caricuture of the Hank Jr. I used to know. But I still have Otis Gibbs, Steve Earle, his son JTE, Hayes Carll, Ryan Bingham and host of others. So it’ll be alright. Except now Steve Earle has sold “Galway Girl” to an Irish Cider Company. Take a look at this. What the hell?
Cue Otis: “Where are my true friends, where did they go? . . . Only the graves are real.” But some of the gravestones are albums like Habits Old and New. Not to dwell on the past too much, but I’m going to leave it in the car and listen to it some more. Maybe take a back road to the store and buy a six pack.