Country Music Story Tellin’ – “Don’t Take the Girl”
My love for Country music goes way the hell back (relative to my time in existence). I swear I didn’t know the radio could play anything other than Country til I was 6 or 7, because every radio in the house/car was always tuned to WDRM.
When I was ten, I told my family that I wanted to be a Country singer. My older sister quickly disabused me of the idea, letting me know that 1. I was Asian, and there was no such thing as an Asian Country singer, and 2. I couldn’t sing. I was embarrassed. My dreams were crushed before they’d even had a chance to settle in, and since then, I’ve never told ANYONE the extent of my larger-than-life aspirations. Hmm… Blogs as therapy. Good research paper idea.
As I grew up, I discovered a love for other genres (especially Motown, Soul and R&B) and left my love for Country behind, possibly out of a feeling of exclusion or possibly as a rebellion against my parents. Don’t… Yeah, don’t know. The recent revival of music in my life, thanks to Pandora One and a lack of visual storytelling mediums, has given me a chance to look back at the Country music of my youth with fresh eyes. Fresh, teary eyes. You wanna talk about tight storytelling?! I’mma let you finish, but Tim McGraw had one of the best short stories of all time! One of the best shorts of all time! : P “Don’t Take the Girl” is like that “Christmas Shoes” song, but without all the backdoor self-aggrandizing. “I just had to help him oooout…” F*ck you, Newsong! You should have been called Onesong! (I hope they were, in fact, one hit wonders.)
Country music has a stronger emphasis on storytelling than pop (Southerners are indeed a story-telling folk ^_~). I wouldn’t argue if you disagreed, but I do think there’s something us screenwriters can learn from this oft-put-down genre. It is, after all, a HUGE deal in the red states (and Europe, what’s up with that?). Can it be racist/nationalist sometimes? Yes. But more often than not, I’ve found racism is nothing more than a symptom of limited exposure to other peoples. The South might be changing, but it’s still pretty minority free, save for African Americans. And besides, ever notice how much sh*t the South gets from people who’ve never been there? Wooh, okay. That’s another post.
Anywho, back to the song. It might just be me, but I can’t get through it without tearing up. It’s such beautiful, blue-collar love, people! You can imagine, for instance, that after Johnny gets robbed, he’s not gonna be super indignant about it. He’s not gonna be like, “Who the f*ck does that guy think he is? I’m gonna f#cking call the police right now! Oh, you messed with the wrong Jonathan Carlisle III today, buddy! Ooh, I am really steamed.” Lol. I don’t even know who that guy would be, but you get the picture.
Without further ado:
Johnny’s daddy was taking him fishin’
When he was eight years old.
A little girl came through the front gate
Holdin’ a fishin’ pole.
His dad looked down and smiled,
Said, “We can’t leave her behind”
“Son, I know you don’t want her to go,
But someday you’ll change your mind.”
And Johnny said,
“Take Jimmy Johnson,
Take Tommy Tompson.
Take my best friend, Bo.
Take anybody that you want,
As long as she don’t go.
Take any boy in the world,
Daddy please, don’t take the girl.”
Same old boy, same sweet girl
Ten years down the road.
He held her tight and kissed her lips in
Front of the picture show.
Stranger came and pulled a gun
Grabbed her by the arm said “If you do what I tell you t(w)o,
There won’t be any harm”
And Johnny said “Take my money,
Take my wallet,
Take my credit cards.
Here’s the watch that my grandpa gave me,
Here’s the key to my car.
Mister give it a whirl,
But please don’t take the girl.”
Same old boy
Same sweet girl
Five years down the road
There’s gonna be a little one and she
Says it’s time to go.
Doctor says the baby’s fine,
But you’ll have to leave,
‘Cause his momma’s fading fast and
Johnny hit his knees and there he prayed
“Take the very breath you gave me.
Take the heart from my chest.
I’ll gladly take her place if you’ll let me,
Make this my last request.
Take me out of this world.
God, please don’t take the girl.”
Was taking him fishin’
When he was eight years old
Lyrics by Craig Martin and Larry W. Johnson
Kills ya, don’t it?
“I mean, as long as I have been doing music, I know I am only 30% of what I could be and want to be.” – Tim McGraw