Thursday, June 21, 2007

"When Daddy let me drive"

I can't fully identify with the lyrics to this song by Alan Jackson; my father didn't let me drive when I was a kid like they do in the country, but he did teach me how to drive once I had my permit. So it does sort of apply.

You know sometimes you hear a song and it just clicks, you think it's an instant classic? Well, I heard this song on the radio a few weeks back and thought it was a new song, but I understand it's been out a while. It's on Alan Jackson's second greatest hits, which came out in 2003, but I don't know if it was recorded for that compilation or taken from a previous album, and I'm not in a situation to look that up just now. Here's the lyrics:

It was painted red, the stripe was white

It was eighteen feet from the bow to the stern light
Secondhand from a dealer in Atlanta
I rode up with Daddy when he went there to get her

We put on a shine; put on a motor
Built out of love, made for the water
Ran her for years, 'til the transom got rotten
A piece of my childhood that will never be forgotten

It was just on old plywood boat
With a '75 Johnson with electric choke
A young boy, two hands on the wheel
I can't replace the way it made me feel
And I would turn her sharp
And I would make her whine
He'd say, "You can't beat the way an old wood boat rides,"
Just a little lake across the Alabama line
But I was king of the ocean
When Daddy let me drive

Just an old half-ton shortbed Ford
My uncle bought new in '64
Daddy got it right 'cause the engine was smoking
A couple of burnt valves and he had it going
He let me drive her when we'd haul off a load
Down a dirt strip where we'd dump trash off of Thigpen Road
I'd sit up in the seat and stretch my feet out to the pedals
Smiling like a hero that just received his medal

It was just an old hand-me-down Ford
With a three-speed on the column and a dent in the door
A young boy, two honds on the wheel
I can't replace the way it made me feel
And I would press that clutch
And I would keep it right
And he'd say, "A little slower, son, you're doing just fine,"
Just a dirt rood with trash on each side
But I was Mario Andretti
When Daddy let me drive

I'm grown up now, three daughters of my own
I let them drive my old Jeep across the pasture at our home
Maybe one day they'll reach back in their file
And pull out that old memory
And think of me and smile and say

"It was just an old worn out Jeep
Rusty old floorboard, hot on my feet
A young girl, two hands on the wheel
I can't replace the way it made me feel
And he'd say, 'Turn it left, and steer it right,
Straighten up girl, you're doing just fine,'
Just a little valley by the river where we'd ride
But I was high on a mountain
When Daddy let me drive"

When Daddy let me drive
Oh he let me drive
Daddy let me drive

It's just an old plywood boat
With a '75 Johnson with electric choke

The lyrics just do not do the song justice. And I thought Chatahoochee was hot. It still is; you'd have yourself a tough time convincing me that a better country song was ever recorded, because back when I didn't even like country, I loved that song from the first time I heard it, and I still love it just as much. But this song is four stars, five stars, 10/10, whatever. The music is good, the singing is great, the lyrics are fun, and the little reversal at the end (which I'm noticing is fairly common in country songs) appeals to me because I'd prefer to have girls, but in any case I know I'll be showing our kids everything, including driving. How to drive safely, that is. (The experienced driver can drive fast, one would think, but safety is always first.)

If you can get a copy of this song, I'd strongly recommend it. Good stuff. Other top-quality Alan Jackson songs inlcude, of course Chatahoochee, but additionally Little Bitty, Mercury Blues, Gone Country, Midnight in Montgomery, and It's 5 o'Clock Somewhere (with Jimmy Buffet). If you like 9/11 songs (which I don't particularly care for), Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning? is another. Ironically, I have the two greatest hits albums, but I never got into anything beyond the singles.

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