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Herd I’m Drinkin – Jim Miller and Buffalo Country

Herd I’m Drinkin’ – Jim Miller and Buffalo Country

Funkyside Records 101

A month ago, I watched the John Travolta classic "Urban Cowboy," about
riding a mechanical bull, marriages, and the hard life of the urban,
drunken, bar-going cowboy. The trite storyline and mechanical bulls made me
think about the cowboy life: the stereotypes of John Wayne, indians
(lowercase, as the age-old argument regarding Native American versus Indian
continues) and riding through the Southeast, under purple skies.

Someone will certainly call "bullshit" here. Hopefully everyone will. All
fabrications above are based on celluloid, which does not extend too far
from cellulite and silicon in the realm of the inauthentic; two-dollar peep
shows and yellow gloves in Mexico, bar-scenes filled with smoke and
wandering surfers searching for the infamously hedonistic donkeyshow. Yes,
that kind of "bullshit": again, all celluloid-derived imagery accepted as
historically pertinent, yet important and germane in an unforeseeable and
unconceivable way. Storytellers attempt to ignite the imaginations of the
young and capricious beyond the point of reality to startle pocketbooks into
considering a two-hundred dollar gallon hat, which reeks of ignorance and
siphoned brain cells, of Travolta with a fake accent and probably ordering
and drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon instead of Lone Star.

If country exists, it resides between the bullshit; not in some sort of
chemistry based ideal, wherein germs and fecal bacteria can be parsed, but
in the commentary of bullshit itself; between the [l] and [s], for
argument's sake. In there resides Jim Miller, as he bulwarks the spirits of
Haggard, Parsons and Lauderdale, beyond the miasma which emits from the bull
and shit when joined, where wandering in rancid silk covers, racial horse
tromps through dusty lands have become not the national representation, but
the ideal. Ah, yes Lookin’ For Love indeed.

On Miller's first solo album, "Herd I'm Drinkin'" he surpasses the trite,
plastic board of directors-produced music, as he covers thirteen classic
songs in the album's 50 minute time span. Revealing Miller's talents the
best is Jim Lauderdale's masterpiece Halfway Down, where he sings:

Rain drops on those tree tops,

Waiting for them to fall

I'll know I've been feeling

But I'm only halfway down

The same spirit and integrity which has continually earned Bob Dylan money
resides in Miller's work, and – in a way – surpasses his vocal counterpart.
Miller's vocals are earnest, yet proper, country – yet not hick – like Steve
Earle, another no BS guy, without the political animosity. Halfway
Down screams of Carl Perkins, Donna the Buffalo (of course) and Patty
Loveless, with Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris (dressed like Tara Nevins)
recreating the country experience, surpassing the phonetic [k] and [i] in
the word country; true "shit-kicking" music, to employ accurate Southern
vernacular. Beyond common explanation and overtly derivative analysis,
Miller's music contains ineffability where the perlocutionary and
illocutionary protects the true word itself, "country," like a treasure,
which once embodied Hank Williams Cheatin’ Heart.

Digressions aside, Miller's album works on multiple levels and for most
audiences. Only the truly idiotic and pompous would pass this music off – out of "Deliverance"-based dreams of in-breeding (especially upon hearing
the solo banjo and vocal piece Prodigal Son/Jonas) – rather than
realizing the integrity and musical depth of this music. If country music
has entered into the world of plastic surgery, Miller has erected a tent for
the holistic approach; and the result could be considered an album which
pulls the music from its life support.

However, Miller would contend that in a sense my tone has dressed him in
lengthy locks, a white robe, and rope sandals, wandering the Middle East to
reclaim the temple of country music. Hardly, as such a comment would be
simply too audacious and defacing, taking the reader back to the beginning,
splitting doodle bugs and barley filled defecation. While such symbolism
would be too political and hyperbolic, Miller's album certainly has awakened
Mr. Parsons, residing somewhere in Joshua Tree, who would be elated that
someone finally grabbed his metaphorical musical torch and carried it forth.
No, no: thank God for Mr. Miller, but thank God the celluloid and cellulite
might start melting, hopefully falling into a Kafkinian cesspool.

[As a side comment: I wish to say "godspeed" to John Hartford, a bluegrass
musician extraordinarho created music not for people or money, but for
his own artistic benefit. Hartford's loss means another great,
non-egotistical, artistically centered musician has passed on; making his
passing far more disheartening than most people might realize. — CO.]

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