It’s time to shine the Vinyl Spotlight! Every now and then on Paloozapalooza, I like to focus on a random LP from my collection. This week, we have:
David Allan Coe – The Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy (1974)
David Allan Coe is a unique dude, and I say that as someone who absolutely hates the word unique. He spent most of his early life in jail before moving to Nashville and living in a hearse parked outside of the Grand Ole Opry. A few years later, he was a fairly successful country musician, writing such famous songs as “Would You Lay With Me (In a Field of Stone)” and “Take This Job and Shove It” while maintaining a persona unlike anyone else.
Coe sang about drugs, sex, and booze in a more direct way than most other country musicians, and his long hair and crude demeanor certainly helped him stand out. (Fun fact: Coe went on to feud with Jimmy Buffet, open for Kid Rock, and record a full album with members of Pantera.)
The Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy is Coe’s third album overall and his first for a major label. It’s a fantastic record, too, one reminiscent of Merle Haggard, Guy Clark, and John Prine all at the same time. He reminds me a bit of Randy Newman as well; not in the way he sounds, but in his quirkiness and oddball sense of humor.
The Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy opens strong with “A Sad Country Song” and “Crazy Mary.” They’re both great songs, and Coe never sounds more like Haggard than he does on “A Sad Country Song.”
Perhaps my favorite track on the whole album is “Bossier City,” which finds Coe melding straightforward country with a slightly more theatrical rock and roll sound. How was this not a legitimate hit? The “you’ve got the nerve to ask me where I’m going / and I don’t believe I’d tell you if I knew / I’ll be gone when the sun comes up tomorrow / I believe it’s time to say goodbye to you” pre-chorus is great, and then the actual chorus moves and grooves with pure energy. Throw in some electric guitar and a wah-wah pedal and it would’ve fit right in on an early Bowie record.
On the record’s B side, two songs stand out the most: “Desperados Waiting for the Train,” Coe’s cover of the Guy Clark masterpiece, and “The Old Grey Goose is Dead,” which, as you may have guessed, is about the vodka and not the animal.
Overall, The Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy is a lot of fun. I think my favorite Coe song is still “Longhaired Redneck,” which came just a few years later, but this is an album I’m happy to spin again and again.
Listen below …