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When country wasn't cool

It's finally happened. The music industry has not only passed me by, it has virtually disenfranchised me. My 15-minute ride home after work is spent tuning fruitlessly from one station to another, hoping to find a song without steel guitar or lyrics I can actually understand. I can see why some people settle for Rush Limbaugh. He has a pleasant voice and looks a little like Mama Cass, only with less chest hair.

The unintelligible lyric has been around since "Louie, Louie" spurred Congressional hearings. In the end, they decided the song was subversive, but "had a really snappy beat." Gibberish really took hold in the 1980s, with Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam. Eddie sang like a hallucinating Polar Bear hooked to a battery charger: Herruh! Gredda brannna bruh huh-huh-huh!* According to the latest issue of Rolling Stone, Vedder is making a comeback. This may have something to do with the Polar Bear shortage.

RS: Tell us, Eddie, after a career in which you've already accomplished everything, why come back now?

EV: Grubvdah!-Nanan-nna-nan-nan beefsteakin.

I still subscribe to Rolling Stone and Spin, but that's just to impress postal workers. I rarely recognize any of the bands. Spin seems to go out of its way to review bands so obscure no one knows if they really exist. I half expect them to review an album by Four Miscreants We Found On The Corner, who in real life are people who just happened to be waiting for a bus at the same time. Spin recently declared Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band as a "hot new band." All I know is that is a terrible name for a band. For one thing, it's geographically confusing.

If I ever give up the lucrative business of column writing, I think I could make a bundle naming rock bands. By the way, I think Lucrative is the name of a rapper. Here are some of the names I have come up with:

- Pumpkin Boogers

- Flippidy Do

- My Crazy Uncle's Underwear

- The Sneering Fudgesticks

- Fine Young Cannabis

- Ear Fungus

- Furbert Winkerbean

- Give the Devil a Headache

- We Didn't Inhale

- Who Cut the Cheese?

- Karl Rove's Conscience

Feel free to adopt any of these names. None of them have been used.

If you're old like me, Rolling Stone is the better music magazine because they have the obligatory photo of Neil Young each issue to remind you how good you really look in comparison. I remain convinced Neil Young and Bruce Dern are really the same person. Have you ever seen Bruce Dern in those old Westerns? He talks like Neil Young sings.

His daughter Laura Dern is Still Hot. That has nothing to do with anything, but I think it would be a great name for a band. Laura Dern is Still Hot... it grows on you.

Rolling Stone also pulls reviewer David Fricke out of Our Most Holy Extra Virgin Olive Oil Mother Mary of Mercy Nursing Home to re-review things. You can usually find David near the medicine cabinet. This month he is featuring Moby Grape. The name of the band is way better than the band, but the legacy has endured, which illustrates the validity of my plan to become a professional band-namer.

I don't know much about today's rock music but Through Osmosis (another good name for a band) I have discovered that today's bands are really ticked off about something. They have names like: Disturbed. Outcast. Bummed Out. Despondent. Depressed. Gloom. They are crying all the way to the bank. They have also stopped using melodies completely.

I am also struggling with the myth Beyonce can sing. She looks like a singer, acts like a singer -- but she doesn't sing like a singer. She can act, she can dance a little, but put her on stage with Tina Turner, and she is exposed as a pretender. It's amazing something so curvy can sound so flat.

What really kills me is the decline of country music, which started well below sea level in the first place. When Conway Twitty started wearing pastel leisure suits and his hair higher than Loretta Lynn's, I was sure it was a sign of the apocalypse. But it's been downhill from there. Now, all we have is the Dixie Chicks -- and they've been banished to Iceland or something. As a matter of full disclosure, I've never heard them sing, but I like the way they look and agree with their wildly liberal view that George W. Bush wasn't our smartest president.