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Old Dogs
Jennings, Tillis, Reed & Bare
What can ya say?

You could say "Great!" and not be too far off the mark...

Four superlative talents -- Waylon, Jerry Reed, Mel Tillis and Bobby Bare --  (up front) and another  -- Shel Silverstein, who wrote all of the songs -- backstage supplying the material.

I've been complaining about the way in which the true country greats have been shuffled offstage in favour of hats and light rock groups -- well, here are some of them and they're gonna explain it better than i can. Set back and listen.

I have one semi-significant complaint; "Old Dogs" ("...can't learn new tricks/But they can still bury a bone...") and "Cut the Mustard" ("I ain't too old to cut the mustard, but I'm too tired to spread it around..." are basically the same song, and they are too close together. Otherwise, i'm happy to just listen from track one to track eleven nonstop.

Waylon sings "I Don't Do It No More" -- about all of the things he's notorious for doing -- to excessive excess -- in his younger days, but has given up in his (tired) maturity; the kicker is his tolerant amusement when today's Young Lions discover some Incredible New Kick that he gave up years ago.

Bobby Bare's "She'd Rather Be Homeless" is amusing on the surface; if you actually listen, it begins to be borne in upon you that the concern over his wife that the narrator expresses is really over how it makes him look that she'd rather be a bag lady than his spouse. He doesn't understand at all.

"Young Man's Job" -- about being sixty and best known for something you did when you were twenty. "...too old for all this rock'n'roll but I'm too damn poor to stop..." Jerry Reed is perfect; his rendition of the first verse alone is almost sufficient, but the rest of the song is Even Better.

Strong Contendor for Best On Disc: The joyful collective chomp that the Old Dogs take out of the hand that used to feed them in "(Nashville is) Rough on the Livin' (But Really Speaks Well of the Dead)", a bitterly funny commentary on the fact that the only mention most of the country superstars of fifteen or twenty years ago get in the media these days are when they get arrested for DUI or drop dead... Ranks with Kinky Friedman's similarly-themed "Sold American".

(Not that i wish anyone ill, but i can hardly wait to see the hypocritical show of grief and respect that Nashville is going to put on when George Jones or Waylon dies...  And Johnny Cash has had to go to a label best known for hardcore to get his last three [brilliant] albums released...)

Another Strong Contendor for Best On Disc: "Still Gonna Die" -- "...get an AIDS test, enroll in est, move out West where it's healthy and dry and ya live to be a hundred but you're still gonna die..." which raucously points out that since the story always ends the same, you might as well live the best life you can and have some fun before you check out.

Tillis testifies to the feeling that so many of us of the Baby Boom generation felt -- "The problem isn't that you may die young; the danger is that you won't!" A lot of us never expected to see fifty years and lived accordingly. And now we're past fifty and have to live with the financial and physical results of our previous attitude.

And "Time" is just beautiful: "...but they'e tearing down buildings that I watched 'em build -- Time, just time..." 

In Kinky Friedman's lovely phrase, Shel Silverstein stepped on a rainbow about a year ago, but this last project he was involved in is a testimonial to both his wit and acumen and to the superlative talents of the four "Old Dogs".