Good choice Simon. Poor quality whiskey (or even whisky) is bad for you.
In fact, according to a recent Irish Times article about songs:
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a common cause of death in country songs is bad whiskey. It’s up there with being kicked in the head by a mule or being run over by a train.
An example would be Willie Nelson’s “Whiskey river, take my mind/Don’t let her memory torture me/Whiskey river, don’t run dry/You’re all I’ve got, take care of me.” You can see where that’s headed.
There’s also the somewhat enigmatic “just upped and died”. As in the song The Night My Piano Upped and Died. “Lost in dreams and crumpled pride/The night my piano upped and died, died, died.” The repetition illustrating an overwhelming grief.
“Run over by a train” is another popular cause of death in such songs, as in You Never Called Me My Name. Its incomparable lyrics include: “I was drunk the day my mama got out of prison/And I went to pick her up in the rain/But before I could get to the station in the pickup truck/She got ran over by a damned old train.” RIP.
Of course you could get shot in Reno just so Johnny Cash might watch you die or down by a river if you fall foul of a lover or Neil Young. “Down by the river./I shot my baby./Down by the river.”
But the major cause of death in country songs is a broken heart, sometimes involving a dog. An excellent example would be Elvis Presley’s Old Shep. (Readers are advised that what follows may be upsetting.)
This touching story of a boy and his dog ends tragically. (You are surprised?).
“As the years fast did roll/Old Shep, he grew old/His eyes were fast growing dim/And one day, the doctor looked at me and said/I can do no more for him, Jim/With hands that were trembling/I picked up my gun/And aimed it at Shep’s faithful head. . .” We will end it there.
So, and not to end on a sad note, here are some more ‘uplifting’ country song titles: How Can I Miss You if You Won’t Go Away?, I Flushed You from the Toilets of My Heart, How Come your Dog Don’t Bite Nobody but Me, I Keep Forgettin’ That I Forgot About You and, a personal favourite, She Got the Ring And I Got the Finger.
Phil Valentine’s death is a real pisser to me. That man successfully fought against the attempt to impose a State Income Tax in Tennessee. Had he just kept himself alive longer, he could have taken that campaign to other States.
Best yet, Phil Valentine could have taken up the cause of repealing the 16th Amendment (the Federal Income Tax.)
Alas, half of life is showing up, and that means being there to show up, and Phil Valentine didn’t do what that takes. Just damn!
Others will have to carry on, but in today’s “call out” and “cancel culture” world with growing volumes of forbidden topics, I wonder how possible social change is any more.