Friday Five: S-P-E-L-L-I-N-G S-O-N-G-S

Juli Thanki | July 17th, 2009

Country music is pretty straightforward: three chords and the truth, as they say. But sometimes, singers have to spell it out for us. Here’s a Friday Five that’s part country music playlist, part spelling bee.

  • Wayne Hancock - Tulsa 5. “Tulsa” – Wayne Hancock
    Tulsa is the town for Wayne the Train, so much so that he spells the town’s name out in his swingin’ chorus and named his 2006 album after it. But after hearing all about the wonders of Tulsa in Hancock’s song, it’s no wonder why Bob Wills wanted to be taken back there.
  • Garth Brooks - Scarecrow 4. “Beer Run (B Double E Double Are You In?)” – Garth Brooks & George Jones
    Man, living in a dry county must suck when you like booze as much as these guys. Between beer and gas money, it’s no wonder they’re broke. Well, at least the seven dudes in the song are cruising in a pickup truck and not on a riding lawnmower.
  • Lyle Lovett - Pontiac 3. “M-O-N-E-Y” – Lyle Lovett
    There’s gold digger, and then there’s straight up cruel. Lovett’s chorus “‘No finance, no romance’/Was how she told me goodbye/First she took my love, then she took all my/M-O-N-E-Y” suggests that this gal is the latter.
  • Ernest Tubb - The Texas Troubadour 2. “G-I-R-L Spells Trouble” – Ernest Tubb
    According to this one from the Texas Troubadour, girls are “just plain misery” and nothing but trouble. Of course, a man just can’t get along without ‘em. In the future, Ernest, stick to women…they’ll just leave you walking the floor instead of kicking you out of your home.
  • Tammy Wynette - The Essential Tammy Wynette 1. “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” – Tammy Wynette
    Okay, so the gal in this song has good reason to spell stuff out. But when that four year old grows up and learns what his folks were talking about right in front of him? T-H-E-R-A-P-Y.
  1. Matt B.
    July 17, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    What no T.L.C.A.S.A.P.? from Alabama?

  2. Matt B.
    July 17, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    Or “T-R-O-U-B-L-E?” from Travis Tritt?

  3. Jessica
    July 17, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Aww….and remember that Alan Jackson showed us how to spell Good Time….”G to the O, O to the D, T and an I, M and an E…” or however that goes…

  4. Nicolas
    July 17, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    ^ Yep, “Good Time” is a good song =)

  5. Kelly
    July 17, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    No Glamorous by Fergie?? COME ON!!!!!!

  6. Leeann Ward
    July 17, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    Great list and blurbs. I’ve always been partial to Darrell Scott’s “Spelling Bee Romance.”

  7. Stormy
    July 17, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    No B-E-E-R-R-U-N from Todd Snider? Seriously, no single line in the Garth Brooks number so aptly describes the angst of a Beer Run better than “Oh how happy we would be if we had only brought a better fake ID on a B double E double R un.”

    Kelly: I bought a copy of Fergie’s cd for a friend’s daughter for graduation. In trying to explain to me which songs she liked she began to sing a bit–“G-L-A-M-A-R-O-U-S.” On the night of her high school graduation, bless her heart.

  8. Paula_W
    July 17, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Don Henry’s BFD. Although that’s more of an acronym song that spelling song, it’s funny as H-E-C-K!

  9. Jon
    July 17, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    I can overlook the absence of “Tulsa Straight Ahead” (much better than the Hancock song), but not the failure to include “S-A-V-E-D.”

  10. Michael
    July 17, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Remember one (of many) of Joe Diffie’s mid 90s novelty songs named “C-O-U-N-T-R-Y”. Maybe Jason Aldean can revive it…

  11. Lucas
    July 17, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    L! Is for the way you loooooook at me. O! Is for the only oneeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, I seeeeeeee! V! Is very, very! EXTRA! ORDINARY!….

  12. Paul W Dennis
    July 17, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    How about P-I-G by John Bogue

    or B-A-C-O-N & E-G-G-S by Homer & Jethro

    both songs done to the same tune as D-I-V-O-R-C-E

    Also two great songs with the same title

    I-O-U by Jimmy Dean (a Mother’s Day song)
    I-O-U by Lee Greenwood (a love song)

  13. Mike Parker
    July 17, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    Diffie also had “I’m in Love with a Capital U” sorry- I know everyone wants to forget that.

  14. Truersound
    July 17, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Todd Sniders BEER RUN > Garth’s. Another one of my faves is W-I-F-E from The Old 97’s

  15. Juli
    July 17, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    Ooh, I totally forgot about W-I-F-E! Thanks for the reminder. Will have to look up the Todd Snider song as well based upon you and Stormy’s comments.

    The general rule for FF songs is that they’ve already got to be somewhere in my music collection. Looks like I need to hit up the record store in search of more spelling songs…that Homer & Jethro one looks fab.

  16. Dan Milliken
    July 17, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    The D-I-V-O-R-C-E commentary is hilarious. These are always so fun to read, especially when the “my fave was snubbed!” comments start trickling in.

  17. Silvio
    July 17, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    Forgot maybe the granddaddy of them all – “M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I” by Red Foley (1950). Does anyone know the origin of the “three chords and the truth” phrase? First time I recall hearing it was in U2’s version of Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” from Rattle & Hum — “All I’ve got is this red guitar, three chords and the truth.”

  18. numberonecountryfan
    July 17, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    I have an earlier example. What about C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S by Eddy Arnold? That was in 1949!

  19. Mike Parker
    July 17, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Juli- also seek out Todd’s story regarding the two versions of Beer Run… it’s worth a listen. I’m pretty sure there’s a version on YouTube.

  20. Dan Milliken
    July 17, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Oh, Silvio’s comment reminds me of another good one: Bobbie Gentry’s “Mississippi Delta.” Although that one is kind of Ike-and-Tina-ish, so maybe not the countriest choice.

  21. Leeann Ward
    July 17, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    “The general rule for FF songs is that they’ve already got to be somewhere in my music of more…”

    ..And the list can only contain five songs.

    I LOVE Todd Snider, but I prefer Garth’s “BeerRun.”

  22. stansongman
    July 17, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    And Sammy Kershaw “T-E double N-E double S double E G-I-R-L”

  23. Jon
    July 17, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Uh, “S-A-V-E-D” dates back to the 1930s, if not earlier.

  24. Rick
    July 17, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Although definitely not country Tonio K’s bitter break-up song “H-A-T-R-E-D” circa 1979 comes to mind as it contains a plethora of spelled out words. An example lyric: “I’m so full of H-A-T-R-E-D, I’m bitter and mailgned. You’ve got me P-I-S-S-E-D Off, I’m angry most of the time. Why don’t you G-O T-O H-E-Double L you…(umm I better quit here for the sake of decorum!)”. Hey, this describes how I feel about Obama being president, imagine that! (lol)

  25. Truersound
    July 17, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    Juli, here is the beer run story.

    If you want to get into Todd…I would recommend the bootleg Live From Moondawg’s Tavern.

    So good Todd is writing a book based around it (per his recent paste interview….which I found via this site BTW)

    and let me say I always enjoy these as well….it must be frustrating every time you do one to have everyone only comment on what songs you FORGOT :-P

  26. Paul W Dennis
    July 18, 2009 at 7:13 am

    George Jones had a song in the mid 1950s “Vitamins L-O-V-E”

  27. The Confessor
    July 19, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Remember when Lonestar’s first single for Lonely Grill, S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night damned near killed their career before Amazed saved their asses?

Tagged In This Article

// // // // //

Current Discussion

  • Paige: Oh damn. :( I never commented here and I haven't been listening to any music at all since Thanksgiving (it …
  • Dave W.: Just read the news here. Will miss E145 very much - love this site. All the best to you Juli …
  • Leeann Ward: Oh, dang! This is real. Farewell to the most generous, informative, quality, intelligent, consistent, ethical country music blog! You …
  • bll: Thanks Juli for all the great articles and information; you'll be missed by me and I suss several others. Best …
  • Both Kinds of Music: I hope people appreciate the irony that one of the best "Americana" albums is titled Metamodern Sounds in COUNTRY Music.
  • Barry Mazor: I would not rule out that possibility..There's a different set of voters involved..
  • Dana M: Does anyone else think that Brandy Clark actually has a good chance of winning since this isn't a country awards …
  • Juli Thanki: UPDATE: Brandy Clark got a Best New Artist nom. BEST AMERICANA ALBUM: Rosanne Cash -- The River & The Thread John Hiatt -- Terms …
  • luckyoldsun: Glenn Campbell is great and I'd love to see him get an award, but the words of that song may …
  • Casey Penn: Juli, it was an honor to write for you here on You're good at what you do, and The …

Recently Reviewed Albums

  • walkerandthetexasdangers3
  • deadmanstown
  • tom t hall storytellers
  • paulthorntooblessed
  • duhksbeyondtheblue
  • kelleymickwee
  • sandrarhodes
  • candi staton