Thursday, August 20, 2009

Not so easy to forget

The songs that stick with you, that burn into your memory banks, aren't always the best ones. They're just the ones that you remember.

The operative phrase is "that's a catchy tune.'' In other words, listener beware: This could get stuck in your head for eternity.

Exhibit A: Herman's Hermits brainwashed us with "I'm Henry VIII.'' They had their fair share of respectable pop songs; why did they have to go and do "second verse, same as the first''?

It was a crummy song, seared permanently into our brains. So unforgettable, in fact, that we don't even need an Exhibit B.

But here's one that's not so bad. This morning the chorus just popped into my head (actually, popped out -- it's been in there for 30 years):

You're just a coca cola cowboy
You got an Eastwood smile and Robert Redford hair
But you walked across my heart like it was Texas
And you taught me how to say I just don't care

It came from the prolific pen of Mel Tillis, one of country music's most successful and revered songwriters. Tillis wrote more than 1,000 tunes, had his share of chart-toppers and provided plenty of ammo for other artists ("Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town'', "I Ain't Never'' and "Detroit City'').

Those songs are both memorable and remember-able, but no moreso than "Coca Cola Cowboy'', which spent 11 weeks atop the Billboard country chart during the summer of 1979.

What do you expect from an artist who leads his website with this quote: "It seems like just yesterday that I left Florida head'n for Nashville, Tennessee in my '49 Mercury with a busted windshield, a pregnant wife and twenty-nine dollars in my pocket.''

Mel came from Tampa, by way of Pahokee -- fertile song-writing territory for sure. And he delivered more than a few gems that stick on your brain like cornbread in your belly. But never drive you crazy.

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