Spring is here, and chances are you’re enjoying the beautiful weather. But if you’re trapped indoors for whatever reason—work, allergies, general reclusiveness—channel surf and see if you can find any country music-themed cartoons. If you’re reading this late at night, you can seek out Squidbillies and its excellent Billy Joe Shaver theme song. Or you can look for these slightly more family-friendly shows instead.
5. “The Bluegrass Is Always Greener” – King of the Hill
Turns out the guys from Arlen, Texas are pretty decent pickers, and the normally mush-mouthed Boomhauer sings exactly like Vince Gill (who happens to be a repeat KotH guest star). Once they’re joined by Hank’s young Laotian neighbor Connie, they decide to enter into a talent competition as the Dale Gribble Bluegrass Experience. Unfortunately, Connie’s parents object to her fiddling ways and want her to concentrate on classical violin instead. Conflict ensues and is resolved in 30 minutes. The DGBE must have disbanded after this episode, because they’ve never been heard from again. This is probably a good thing: who wants to hear a bunch of songs about propane and propane accessories?
4. “The Phantom of the Country Music Hall” – Scooby Doo
In 1972 those meddling kids headed to Nashville to visit their pal Jerry Reed at the “Grand Old Country Music Hall.” Of course, there’s some spooky stuff going on: flickering lights, strange noises, and most importantly, guitar theft. Since ol’ Jerry can’t perform without his trusty guitar, Scooby and the gang take the case and find out what’s really going on.
3. “Peggy’s Fan Fair” – King of the Hill
Randy Travis seems like a pretty nice guy, but in animated form, he’s anything but. Here he steals Peggy Hill’s song about her big feet and passes it off as his own work. Guest voices also include Martina McBride, Clint Black, Charlie Daniels, Wynonna Judd, and a few others. Wonder why Brooks and Dunn broke up? The rift must have started in this 2000 episode, where cartoon Kix refuses to share his apple brown betty with cartoon Ronnie.
2. “Colonel Homer” – The Simpsons
Five years before Johnny Cash voiced the Space Coyote, The Simpsons went country in this third season episode. Lurleen Lumpkin, voiced by Beverley D’Angelo (who played Patsy Cline in Coal Miner’s Daughter) is a sweet-voiced singer slaving away in a dive bar. After hearing Lurleen sing “Your Wife Don’t Understand You (But I Do)” in a bar, Homer decides to be her manager; that is, until it causes a rift in his marriage. Too bad she never hit the big time; her songs are a lot more interesting than half the stuff on the radio these days.
1. “Der Fueher’s Face” – Spike Jones & His City Slickers
Spike Jones, an artist who backed the legendary songwriter Cindy Walker and was known for songs like “Never Hit Your Grandma with a Shovel” was sort of an early Weird Al. He composed this goofy song for a World War II-centric Disney animated short and it went to #3 on the charts in the early 40s. The eight minute cartoon featured Donald Duck as a “Nutzi” forced to work in an artillery plant for hours on end, read Mein Kampf, and schlep around the bass drum for the Nutzi marching band. But the worst thing about Nutzism? A life without bacon or coffee. USA! USA!
Juli Thanki is the editor of Engine 145 and a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, Bluegrass Unlimited, and M Music & Musicians Magazine. In 2011 she received the International Bluegrass Music Association Print Media Person of the Year award.