Perhaps there’s an element of looking at drinking songs of the past and trying to justify them as something more than they were. But drinking songs of the past usually fell into one of two categories: 1) drinking as a reason for driving loved ones away or as the result after they’ve left, or 2) drinking songs with a similarity to what exists today. However, even when they fell into the second category, there usually seemed to be an element of jest not present in drinking songs put out today.
Sure, that’s one example alone. And I’m not even trying to imply that every drinking song of the past was good. Nor is every drinking song put out now bad (I actually quite like Dierks Bentley’s “Drunk on a Plane”). I’m talking now about the overall nature of these songs in general.
I’m going to once again pick on a favorite target of mine: Luke Bryan. Here’s a guy I used to be a fan of. Here’s a guy who used to put out music I enjoyed. And I’m going to admit that eve some of the songs I will cite as example here are ones which, at one point, I even enjoyed (*shame face*).
"Did anyone really believe that Johnny Cash took a shot of cocaine and shot his woman down?"
Think about that. Luke Bryan is a 38-year-old college graduate who makes a career out of putting out songs that encourage behaving like you’re living an endless 21st birthday party.
And what makes this worse? Even when he has an occasional good song, even an occasional good drinking song, like “Buzzkill,” or “Drink a Beer,” the edge of these songs is lost due to the fact that it is all that he ever sings about. Given that, it’s hard to believe Bryan doesn’t want us to take these songs seriously.
Take for example the first “hit” off of his Spring Break EPs, “Take My Drunk Ass Home.” Now, I’m going to admit when I found this song fun and enjoyable. Hell, I even had it as my ringtone on my cellphone at one point. To me, it was just a hilarious call back to college days. But realize that this is a song coming from someone who, even at the time, was 10 years past graduating college.
And hell, this song might be good fun to play at a fraternity party. As a sole song in someone’s catalog, it probably wouldn’t even be that bad. Then it became the type of song that dominated Luke Bryan’s repertoire. It’s no longer an isolated song in Luke Bryan’s catalog. He makes a career out of celebrating and encouraging this type of behavior beyond college..
Which is a shame, because there was actually a time when it appeared that Luke Bryan had talent and sang some good country songs.
Here’s a sampling of the lyrics from some of the songs on these EPs:
"Let’s not even get into the fact that taken as a whole, this song is a 30+ year old man hitting on a drunk college girl – is this the image Luke Bryan wants to portray of himself?"
Chugging sink water staring at the wall
Trying to put the pieces back together again
Who did how what where and when?”
“It’s a shore thing the sun’ll be shining
On my cold drink and I’ll be lying
On a Miller Lite towel having happy hour
All day long in the sand
We may never sleep, we may never leave
Raise too much hell, never make bail
But in the morning it’ll be alright
Cause it’s a shore thing we’re getting tore down tonight.”
“You drive your little love-bug when you’re skipping class
And your sisters get you home when you’re drunk off your ass”
(let’s not even get into the fact that taken as a whole, this song is a 30+ year old man hitting on a drunk college girl – is this the image Luke Bryan wants to portray of himself?)
“I sucker-punched my best friend
And the bouncer headlocked me on the stage with the band
I look like hell, I feel like shit
I think it’s time to call it quits.”
-“Take My Drunk Ass Home”
“It was bumper to bumper when I hit that county
So I stopped and let the top down
Speakers were a thumpin’ a little hip-hop somethin’
I was stirring up a Coke-and-Crown”
(here, Luke can’t even wait until he reaches his destination before beginning his drinking binge)
I said it before, but it bears repeating:
Luke Bryan has an entire 14-track collection of songs filled with these lyrics
Now, I know there will be some who say that these songs are just in fun, songs he plays for college kids on Spring Break. But Luke is also one of the biggest names in mainstream country music. These are songs which help set the image of country music as a whole. Luke is part of the image country music puts across. And if the best that Luke Bryan can do is to put out an entire collection of this, then he has clearly not matured beyond his college days.
Want to sing a drinking song, Luke? Great, go for it. But mix it up a little bit. Actually, on second thought, I think you’ve sung your quota for your career.
Bryan is hardly the only offender. Listen to some of the other songs out there that crack their ways to the upper regions of the charts: Florida Georgia Line’s “Get Your Shine On” is another prime example, especially since those types of songs are also the modus operandi of that duo as well.
Look back even as recently as the 1990s and drinking songs weren’t this bad. They’ve never been a bastion of creativity, but there was a time when at least some effort was put into them. Now it seems like a whole league of artists aren’t even trying.