We rarely go to restaurants these days, but we were 10 minutes from home, hungry and it was too late for lunch but too early to begin grilling dinner. My wife suggested we stop for a quick snack at a fast-food restaurant. Never one to turn down grease congealed into round and square semi-edible items, I slung the car into the parking lot.
A few minutes later, we were sitting at a table with order 298 — a round grease thing for her and six tiny round grease things for me — when we realized we were trapped.
To our right was the news on a television. By “news” I, of course, don’t mean actual news. No one does that anymore. I mean people opining about the world blowing up all around us. Worse, though, was what was coming from the overhead speaker.
It was that horrifying whine that some might call modern country music. Granted, I’ve only liked about 12 songs from all genres combined since 1988, and I’m just some old curmudgeon when it comes to virtually all modern music, but what they call country today truly grates on my nerves.
I love Willie and Waylon and Merle and Cash and Hank, but I can’t tolerate the whiny country of today. This song was particularly annoying, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Then it hit me. It was simple. It was S-I-M-P-L-E. The song “Simple” is a hit by Florida Georgia Line from back in 2018. I’d never heard it. But I was trapped. I had to sit through the whole song — the whole, annoying song in when they spell out the song’s title. It gave me indigestion and ruined the enjoyment of my little grease thingies.
I don’t do spelling songs. I’m not sure why. I’m a word guy. I have been known as a great speller since fifth grade. Yet, I hate it when folks spell in songs.
I’m not a numbers guy and always hated math. Yet, I have no problem with numbers in my songs. I like Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4” even though I don’t know what they’re talking about, and I’ve still got Jenny’s number from the wall, 867-5309. I bet if you’re over the age of 40, you have Jenny’s number, too. Dolly Parton can work “9 to 5” “Eight Days a Week” while doing “Mambo No. 5” as “99 Luftballoons” float by, and I can handle it until the year “2525” or at least until “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.”
Spelling, though, ugh! I like John Cougar, John Cougar Mellencamp and John Mellencamp but hated when John belted out “R-O-C-K in the USA.” Tammy Wynette’s “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” is more excruciating than a divorce T-R-I-A-L. Van Morrison’s band Them had a nice tune with “Gloria” in 1964 until they started spelling out her name. If Them had recorded “Haleigh,” I’d have understood and cut them some slack:
“Ahh, I thought it was Hayley or Hailee, but thank goodness they spelled it out H-A-L-E-I-G-H. That was very helpful. Thanks, Them!”
No one was confused about how to spell Gloria’s name. No one thought it was G-L-O-R-E-E-A-H. We’re Americans. We can spell five-letter words as well as we can spew four-letter ones.
Even one of my favorite artists of all time, Prince, tried to finagle his way around my pet peeve in “Diamonds and Pearls” when he had his backup singer sing, “D to the I to the A to the M; O to the N to the D to the pearls of love.”
Whoa now. I see what you did there. You can’t just throw some “to” and “the” in between the letters and pretend you’re not spelling “diamond.” I’m not that S-I-M-P-L-E.
There’s only one person allowed to spell in a song and that’s Aretha Franklin, who deserves our everlasting R-E-S-P-E-C-T. She could sure take care of TCB, um … Wait, what?
Oh whatever. Sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, but don’t spell it to me, spell it to me, spell it to me.