Deconstructing Lyrical Mythologies: Songs About Whiskey

Ahhhhh drinking songs. I LOVE me a good drinking song.

I got curious about drinking songs after falling madly in love with Chris Stapleton and his version of Tennessee Whiskey. THEN I discovered his song Whiskey and You and just about rolled over in defeat. Not only can the man sing his bearded, be-cowboy-hatted head off, he writes some of the most nuanced and insightful lyrics I’ve heard in country music in a long time. It’s the kind of sensitivity I was referring to in my previous entry about Jim Croce.

After tumbling ass-over-tits down the rabbit hole of songs about whiskey, I noticed something curious: The majority of whiskey songs are written or performed by men.

Seriously! I found a list of 68 songs about whiskey and of those 68, FIVE and a HALF, including three half songs, were written or performed by women.

EVEN CURIOUSER, the lyrical content when it comes to men drinking songs verses women drinking songs is striking. According to the songs that women have written or performed about whiskey, they write whiskey songs for a wider range of reasons.

  1. Not happy that her man drinks so much whiskey
  2. She needs a night off to fuckin’ PARTY!
  3. She has a sad.
  4. In the case of Wine After Whiskey by Carrie Underwood, comparing a REALLY good lover to a REALLY, uhm….stiff…drink. *cough. (By the way, this is pretty much the same damn song (eye-roll).

MEN, on the other hand, stick to a decidedly shorter list of motives.

  1. Women and whiskey as interchangeable metaphors for each other (Case in point)
  2. PAIIIIIN AND CONFUSION!!!!

For such a large volume of content, why the limited range of subject matter?

My best guess as to why this is, is that, as a society, we do not bring up all of our beautiful young boys to display the wide variety of emotions that human beings are born with to help them navigate this bizzaro existence. Instead, we socialize them to hide their feels in all manner of ways. So…it stands to reason that a number of these men grow up to hide inside of a bottle of something numbing. Whiskey is one VERY potent (and yummy) option and has been around since before people were pulling bullets out of and cracking limbs off of each other without anesthesia.

Again, this is only a best guess scenario as I’m not, nor have I in recent history, been a man. I’ve only loved a LOT of them and have butted my head up against that beast of an emotional cock block numerous times.

SO! In an attempt to start tipping the exorbitantly uneven scales of songs about whiskey written by women, I’ve written one of my own.

Well…Technically, it’s 3/4 woman song because my friend Andrew Balmat helped me write the bridge, but it’s a start!

Damnit.

ALSO! It’s a sing along, so feel free to sing along on the bold sections.

First live, sing-along performance with Gary Erickson (Trumpet) and Joe Shaughnessy (bass)

Whiskey Works Better Than You

There’s a reason there are so many songs about whiskey.

Cause whiskey won’t tell you “no.”

He’ll show up, he’ll go up, your spine without promise

and leave your mind quiet without being cold.

They say “love is work” and the work, it takes two

but all that I’ve seen of this job,

is that he’s always on call, there’s no order too tall.

Baby whiskey works better than you.

Whiskey works better than you, babe.

Whiskey works better than you.

He’s always on call, there’s no order too tall.

Baby whiskey works better than you.

There’s a tireless expression,”follow your passion”

That’s rattled around in my mind.

But I don’t need a lesson. All that I’m asking,

is for something to lead me when passion goes blind.

AND whiskey works better than you, babe.

whiskey works better than you.

He’s always on call, there’s no order too tall.

Baby whiskey works better than you.

It’s not a perfect system, but it’s a timeless tradition

sung by men about women and by women about fools

He works overtime, and he’s worth every dime, baby

whiskey works better than you.

Whiskey works better than you, babe

Whiskey works better than you.

He’s always on call, there’s no order too tall.

Baby whiskey works better than you.

*repeat ad nauseam

Have a song you’d like me to de-mythstify? Let me know in the comments below!

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