Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Penitentiary Blues

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2005 at 12:00 AM

As the liners to this reissue of his 1970 debut note, David Allan Coe’s reputation as a roustabout continues to overshadow recognition for his music. Of course, at the same time that rep has always fed the man’s muse.

On Penitentiary Blues he lays out the brigandry, the hard time and the hard drugs, and what they do to a man’s soul. The music is a roughshod punch of boho Nashville country and jagged electric blues, with grooves serviceable enough to support Coe’s calloused, unblinking lyrics.

In "One Way Ticket to Nowhere" he’s unromantic about prison, but even less so about getting out. He makes the word "cocaine" scary again in the smoldering "Funeral Parlor Blues," and in "Death Row" asks for "the left hind-leg of a black giraffe cooked medium rare" as his last meal, with a shitheel’s sneer.

When Coe lets some soul seep into his vocal, you can tell he laments his life behind bars. But he’s mostly a cocky bastard, laughing mirthfully at the end of "Monkey David Wine" and full of callow pride on the barroom Dylan stomp of "Little David." Musician, bandit or bardic criminal? Whatever the verdict, honesty is the motor on Penitentiary Blues.

Johnny Loftus writes about music for Metro Times. E-mail letters@metrotimes.com.

Tags:

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

More by Johnny Loftus

Read the Digital Print Issue

April 7, 2021

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation