I've had an odd relationship with country music my entire life. On balance, it generally isn't my cup of tea, but when a country song gets under my skin, it really gets under my skin, and this -- "Y'all Come Back Saloon", by the Oak Ridge Boys -- is a perfect example. I love this song to death. I don't know why I've been listening to it a bit of late, but I have (and I've almost certainly featured it on Something for Thursday at one point or another). It goes back in my memory a long, long way -- all the way back to my childhood. I looked it up, and the song's 40th anniversary is coming up later this year. Wow.
I think I really respond to the country songs that have a hint of sadness to them. The best country songs always seem to deal with sad memories, of loves lost and people looking back over hard lives. That's what this song sounds like to me...and then there are the wonderful lyrics. I mean, the first verse (heard after the chorus, for an interesting formal change) is pure poetry:
In a voice soft and trembling, she'd sing her song to Cowboy,
As a smoky halo circled 'round her raven hair.
And all the fallen angels and pinball playin' rounders
Stopped the games that they'd been playin' for the loser's evening prayer.
I don't care how much you claim to hate country music, that is some wonderful writing there. The smoky halo circling her raven hair? That is a perfect image for a song like this, as is the notion of an entire saloon's clientele falling silent as the raven-haired beauty with her tambourine starts her song. Of course, the song's melody will lodge in your ear in the best way. What a great song.
This live performance is terrific. Please don't laugh at the Saturday Night Fever outfits they're wearing! This is a terrific performance. There are more recent renditions on YouTube as well, if you want to hear how the group has changed over the years.