What do you do when you can’t go the pub? Well lockdown has revealed that the answer is… drink more alcohol. So, to accompany your solo swilling, we’ve put together a fine blend of 10 of the most intoxicating Americana drinking songs for the bank holiday weekend. Of course we can only offer a small selection of what is quite an extensive menu, so please do add your own favourite aural tipples in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys ‘Bubbles in My Beer’
Songs about drink are as old as drinking itself. So the first selection comes from the early years of Americana and certainly well before anyone actually called it that. Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys were the pioneers of Western Swing. This song comes from 1947 and features the wonderful Tommy Duncan on vocals.
George Jones ‘White Lightning’
Moving on to 1959 and we find a young George Jones, in rockabilly mode, extolling the virtues of homemade liquor. The song was written by the Big Bopper and recorded by Jones only a week after the death of his friend in the plane crash that also killed Buddy Holly. Legend has it that notorious drinker Jones was so drunk in the studio that the song required 80 takes.
Todd Snider ‘Beer Run’
A big live favourite at Snider’s gigs. The song was written about a group of fans who, whilst attending a Robert Earl Keen gig, decide to make a beer run and then get back in time to catch the show. Keen is mentioned in the song and evidently loved it.
Texas Tornados ‘In Heaven there is no Beer’
Recorded by numerous artists over the years, this version comes from the last Texas Tornados album to feature the late, great, Doug Sahm and was released after his death. Heaven sounds like hell to me!
Doug Paisley ‘Drinkin’ with a Friend’
A more reflective tone is set on this beautiful song from the Canadian songwriter’s ‘Starter Home’ album. Paisley’s understated approach and thoughtful lyrics have led to comparisons with Gordon Lightfoot and John Prine. High praise indeed.
The Jayhawks ‘The Liquor Store Came First’
From the 1986 Bunkhouse album, this song had hardly been heard until the long-lost debut was re-issued by Lost Highway in 2010. It may not have the polish of some of their later work, but this song from their formative years catches a band distilling their distinctive sound.
Eggs Over Easy ‘I’m Gonna Put a Bar in the Back of My Car (& Drive Myself to Drink)’
The pioneering pub-rockers were the subject of an excellent ‘Forgotten Artists’ feature on this site recently. If you didn’t catch it, then shame on you, go and search it out immediately (or at least when you’ve finished imbibing this article). This great track is worthy of inclusion here for the title alone!
The Replacements ‘Here Comes a Regular’
I couldn’t do this feature without mentioning that alcohol can be no fun at all. Paul Westerberg’s brilliant song reflects on a wasted life sat on a bar stool. From the 1985 album ‘Tim’.
Christy Moore ‘Delirium Tremens’
OK I might be bending the definition of Americana a bit here, but with some justification. From the Irish folk legend’s superb ‘Ordinary Man’ album comes this brilliantly hilarious take on having too much. My joint favourite drinking song ever, along with my final selection.
Lonesome Bob ‘I Get Smarter Every Drink’
Lonesome Bob is not a big name and could possibly be another contender for AUK’s ‘Forgotten Artists’ feature. However, if you are not already familiar with him I’ll guarantee you won’t forget him in a hurry after watching this great performance.
That’s the final round folks. Closing time is upon us and so it’s time to head off home to sleep it all off. Let’s finish with a favourite drinking quote from Ernest Hemingway “I drink to make other people more interesting” Touché