Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Requiem For a Redneck

( (What the World Needs is) A Few More Rednecks) - Charlie Daniels Band


What this world needs is a few more rednecks
Some people ain't afraid to take a stand
What this world needs is a little more respect
For the Lord and the law and the workin' man

Over two years ago, 1/31/05, I posted Hillbilly and Proud of It, in response to an "anonymous" commenter who took exception to the term "hillbilly." The linked post's title alone stated my exception to his.

This past weekend I overheard another put down, not of hillbillies, but of rednecks. I can joke about hillbillies and rednecks, and I have many times here, because both are in my blood. There's not a lot of distinction between one or the other. The term hillbilly is just a matter of where they choose to live.

We could use a little peace and satisfaction
Some good people up front to take the lead
A little less talk and a little more action
And a few more rednecks is what we need

A loud-mouthed woman sitting behind us in a Texas Roadhouse restaurant, which has a distinctive cowboy and redneck atmosphere, was making ignorant comments about rednecks. What set her off was the song (What the World Needs is) A Few More Rednecks by the Charlie Daniels Band, which was being piped through the place.

When the song finished, it made no sense messing up a good song, I turned to her and said, "I don't suppose you even bothered to listen to the words of that song, did you?" She didn't answer but looked down at her plate and moved the food around with her fork. I figured she was probably all talk.

It was too late I was committed. I don't really know if it was so much what she said, but the sound of her voice that got under my skin. I don't wish to come across as a hypocrite, Lord knows I make plenty of jokes and posts about rednecks, but I was born one. I'm qualified to both make light of them and defend them.

I was raised on beans and cornbread
And I like my chicken fried
Yes, I drive a pickup truck
And I'm full of American pride

I keep a Bible on my table
I got a flag out on my lawn
And I don't believe in mindin'
No one's business but my own

And I love them Rambo movies
I think they make a lot of sense
And it's a shame ole John Wayne
Didn't live to run for president

I said to her while the others with her listened with interest, "Rednecks are people too. They live the life they live because they aren't as fortunate as you. You can't understand them? I assure you that they wouldn't understand you either, and I'm not talking about accents either.

They are a simple people yes, but people just the same. I am proud to say that I am a "West-by-God-Virginian" hillbilly too. Like most rednecks we grew up with little. We didn't have much. We couldn't afford it. The difference between you and them, is that growing up they don't realize they don't have much - they are proud of and feel lucky to have what they do have."

[And I'm a catfish connoisseur
And I love the Lynyrd Skynyrd band
And I'm crazy about the NFL
And I'm a diehard NASCAR Fan]

And I don't care what nobody says
I don't trust ole Gorbachev
And I don't know who turned him on
But it's time to turn him off


She finally spoke up, "I'm sorry. You are right about me. I have no clue about how or why rednecks and hillbillies live the way they do? My parents were wealthy and I got just about everything I ever asked for. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I've never even been out of Massachusetts - ever!"

Incredibly, I felt sorry for her. She was crestfallen. I had burst her bubble and in front of her family or friends. "I'm sorry I stuck my nose into your conversation. I should have minded my own business. It just struck a nerve."

Now they're tryin' to take my guns away
And that would be just fine
If you take 'em away from the criminals first
I'll gladly give ya mine

And I don't mind payin' taxes
But it makes my temper itch
When my hard earned money goes
To make some politician rich

Just then a man whose back had been turned to me the whole time spoke up (would you believe it?)with a distinctive southern drawl. "You did a good thing, son. I suspect I'm as guilty as my wife. I was born and raised in the Fort Knox area and I never went back. My wife always wanted to see where I was born, but I never took her. I guess I got so used to living up here, that I didn't want be reminded of how we lived then."

The exchange grew silent and everyone returned to their meals. As for me, I began to feel a little sad. Except for the death of my parents in last seven years, I hadn't returned to my roots for a long time too. I wasn't much different than that man from Kentucky. The only difference between us? Unlike him, I have not forgotten those roots. I'm not ashamed of my place of origin. I'm proud to a hillbilly and a redneck.

What most people call a redneck
Ain't nothin' but a workin' man
And he makes his livin'
By the sweat of his brow

And the calluses on his hands
Now you intellectuals may not like it
But there ain't nothin' that you can do
Cause there's a whole lot more of us common-folks
Then there ever will be of you

Outside on the parking lot the man and his wife approached me and he handed me a slip of paper and said, "I don't meet many southerners up here. Maybe that's because I usually don't talk about where I come from. Here's my telephone number, I'd like to get together sometime - maybe for a beer?"

I nodded and said, "Sure." I shook his hand and said a phrase that is timeless as any I know, "Remember, you can take the boy out of the hills, but you can't take the hills out of the boy."

You know, now that I have gotten around to posting this, I think I will give him a call - soon. I think he needs that beer and the friendly talk from a fellow redneck more than I do. Although it won't hurt me none either.


That's what we need
And a few more rednecks is what we need

....Maybe, just maybe, I'd found one.



Peter said...

Boy Howdy Mike, that's another one of your real good ones, Thanks for letting us in on it.

Jack K. said...

You ain't got a hair on your bald ass if you don't make that call.

Great post.

We are all more alike than we are different.

Serena said...

Terrific post, Mike. As Jack says, we ARE all alike when it comes right down to it.:)

Jude Allen said...

Amen, brother, amen. Wv born and bred, and I honestly couldn't imagine living anywhere else. Why does Heaven have the Pearly Gates? It isn't to keep bad folks out, its to keep the hillbillies from going back to West Virginia...