Select Page

If it can ever be said that I grew up, I did it listening to the Beatles, the Sex Pistols, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Squeeze and everything in between. I ended up with a mixture of musical tastes. There are some that would say “taste” isn’t the first word that comes to mind looking my music collection, but I sent the boys round, and now we’re in full agreement.

When I moved to Texas and found the Old 97s they were and instant hit with me. Pounding melodies, a vocal line that shouts “I don’t do melodies,” and no %$*#@! Disney channel vocal effects.

What’s that you say? Disney doesn’t use a million dollars of equipment and software on anyone they select for stardoom to turn them from wailing wildebeest to c*d choirboy? Yeah, right. In which case I bet you can’t wait for Mitchel Musso’s “live” tour. I’m on tenterhooks, myself.

I digress, back to the Old 97s., specifically Doreen, from the album Hitchhike to Rhome.

Don’t know it? Well, iTunes has the first minute to give you the idea (and maybe buy a copy).

Pounding melodies – check.

Thrashing Banjo front and center – check.

And then there’s the vocal line. Hot damn (as they might say). Alt country. No whining about “ma dogs done gone left me” here. No, sir.

The best thing is that there’s a story, and like the best stories its shown, not told.

To start with there are the cheesy rhymes.

When I first met Doreen

She was barely seventeen.


Well you can roll your eyes and nod,

But I swear that I saw God,

Rhett Millar’s delivery is so no nonsense that it all just works. The lyrics show, not tell. There isn’t a mention of blue eyes, or high cheek bones, or big … well, you get the picture, he describes his feelings by barely telling us anything of her.

In the first four verses we’re shown how he falls in love with her. No blatant “I’m in love” lines here (even through Sir Paul’s made a fortune through that route).

When I first met Doreen

She was barely seventeen.

She was drinking whiskey sours in the bar.

The way she tossed ’em back I would’ve had a heart attack.

But as it is I let her drive my car.

We galloped through the boroughs

Like a pair of horny thoroughbreds,

Until I said, “Stop the car, Doreen.”

Well you can roll your eyes and nod

But I swear that I saw God,

In the moonlight on a side street in the wreckage we call Queens.

Brilliant. Not only do they show us he’s in love, they start a car theme and keep it going with “side street” and “wreckage.”

Then we hit the chorus, the awful dream, the dark threat of new lovers (esp the ones started with Whiskey sours. So I’m told, anyway).

Doreen, Doreen,

Last night I had an awful dream.

You were laying in the arms of a man I’d never seen.

Come clean Doreen.

Come clean Doreen.

So, we’re shown he’s worried about her being faithful and (hot damn) we’re shown how he’s separated from her and has to admit his feelings to the band.

Well I’m pulling into Cleveland In a seven-seater tour van.

There’s eight of us, so I’m sleeping on the floor.

The guy that plays the banjo

Keeps on handing me the Old Crow,

Which multiplies my sorrow, I can’t take it anymore.

Now I’m begging and I’m pleading,

“Well pull over guys, I’m bleeding.

There’s a Fina off the highway with a phone.”

Keeping the threads going, we’re still traveling and the whiskey hasn’t been forgotten. There are great lines with “so I’m sleeping on the floor,” “I can’t take it anymore,” but best of all, “There’s a Fina off the highway with a phone.” Everyone knows what he’s taking about, but the sound of the word “Fina” is such a great contrast between the “ing”s and “o”s of the previous verses.

Finally we’re shown she’s dumped him. The inevitable conclusion. His dread manifest.

I’m calling you Doreen,

But it rings and rings and rings.

Where is it that you are, if you aren’t in our bed at home?

Even the last line is nothing ordinary. It’s a great reversal of the normal word order to put “home” as the last word, the final take-away. They wanted you to understand, if you hadn’t got the picture by then, the guy’s dream of home was gone.

Show, show show. No telling. Brilliant.

Course, I can hear lots of you saying serves himself right; moral of the story – don’t pick up chicks under the influence of alcohol, but are you really so pure you can throw that stone? Come on, have a heart.

Better still, put that stone down and spill the beans. Do whiskey sours ring bells in your past? Margueritas in Austin? Or was it Poire Williams in the Swiss Alps (if you’re rich)? Don’t worry. Your secrets will be safe with us.

And we’ll be sooooo sympathetic. Really…



Where Should I Send It?


You’ll also be added to my Readers’ Group, and be the first to know when I have other free stuff to give away.


No spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time. Promise.

To prevent spam, please check your inbox and confirm your email address.