Thursday, April 09, 2009


Don't you think it's a scandal, how the people have to pay and pay?
Oh, wait a minute.
That's a line from "M.T.A." the Kingston Trio song about fair hikes.
What we've got here is a similar tune about taxes.
Both "M.T.A." and "Charlie Cheated On His Income Tax" are stories about a poor jerk named Charlie who got himself railroaded by government bureaucracy. The line "citizens...this could've been you..." echoes the opening warning from "M.T.A."
Billed as "the thinking man's hillbillies," Homer & Jethro always knew they were too corny for sophisticated people, and too sophisticated for the Hee-Haw crowd. They put a lot of musicianship and harmony into their work, and on this simple novelty track, check out the amphisbaenic use of "I've been working on the railroad" to first denote a job and later chain gang work, Jethro's judicious mandolin underscore, the gentle puff of the sax, and the easy role-interplay as the duo swap identities (Charlie, Judge, etc.) while keeping together on the chorus.
Mostly thanks to unsubtle lyrics about ugly women and rude rubes, the team found steady employment over several decades...making dozens of albums that really should be gathered up as a Bear Family boxed set.
The boys were on radio in the late 40s, honed their pone through the 50's, and won a Grammy for their parody single "Battle of Kookamonga" in 1959.
In the 60's, when "Green Acres," "Petticoat Junction," "Andy Griffith Show," "Red Skelton Hour" and "Beverly Hillbillies" were hits on American TV, Homer and Jethro thrived, averaging 2 albums a year. Those rural TV shows went out of fashion at the turn of the 70's, and it was all over for the duo in 1971. That's when Homer suffered a fatal heart attack at the age of 51.
As Benjamin Franklin said, "nothing can be said to be certain except death...and taxes."


1 comment:

spiderclinic said...

Totally agree that H&J should get boxed by the Bear!