David Coe was born on September 6, 1939, in Akron, Ohio, United States. He is recognized as one of the most praised and polarizing musicians to rise from the outlaw country movement. His best work is a spirited blend of country, blues, and rock & roll inspired by misfortune convictions for crimes ranging from burglary to possession and auto theft. While locked up, Coe started writing music that he credits to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ guidance and support. His music evolved into a complex, honky-tonk country sound. Coe made his debut as a songwriter and singer in the early 1970s. In 1973, he wrote his first hit, Would You Lay with Me (In a Field of Stone), sung by Tanya Tucker. Coe’s reputation as an outlaw had been cemented by his frequent statements to reporters about his time in prison. Coe rarely performed material from his X-rated albums onstage, but it produced a persisting brand marketing issue. He has vehemently denied being a bigot or sexist. Coe’s recording career revived in the early 1980s. He appeared in two made-for-television films along with Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson. By 1990, his contract with Columbia had ended, and his finances became a complete disaster due to IRS matters. Coe’s live-work became his primary source of income after he lost his publishing rights in a legal battle with creditors. He was involved in a major car crash in March 2013 when his SUV was hit by a tractor-trailer truck. Despite broken ribs, head trauma, and bruised kidneys, Coe was back on the road in a matter of months. These are the 10 Best David Allan Coe Songs of All-Time
10. Jack Daniels, If You Please
Sad drinking songs are a country staple. However, David Allen Coe makes the songs less depressing and even morbidly funny. The line “that knocks me to my knees” may mean he’s thinking about forgiving her because he’ll already be kneeling. There are moments of melancholy, but it sounds like he’s doing shots throughout the song because he waffles back and forth between wanting to repair the relationship or keep drinking.
9. If That Ain’t Country
Coe takes listeners to small-town America in this song. However, his version of country living has all the trademarks of his outlaw career. Although he brings the simpleness of rural life out with simple chords, he adds much of his trademark novelty in the lyrics. Midway through the song, it begins to get slightly more uptempo. As this happens, you begin to hear some of his questionable lyrics. However, it’s an enjoyable song about appreciating your roots.
8. Tennessee Whiskey
Many of Coe’s songs focus on drinking; this is another. However, unlike his other odes to alcohol, this song uses alcohol as a metaphor for a woman, describing her by the words he might use to describe his favorite beverages. Coe’s pick-up lines are comical, much the same way brushing someone off in a bar who uses them is.
7. Would You Lay With Me (In A Field of Stone)
This song is different from others in the singer’s catalog. Not only is his voice more haunting, but the guitar is toned down. His trademark snark is absent, so the listener hears a deeper, more soulful side of the singer. Even though it’s one of the gentlest songs he wrote, he wasn’t the first to record it. Tanya Tucker first sang the song and provided background vocals on his version.
6. This Bottle (In My Hand)
Coe teamed up with The Possum on this song. Both Jones and Coe had many songs about the troubles that drinking caused in their relationships. However, like many other male country singers in this genre, they made their misadventures funny with well-placed guitar riffs and punctuations of slide guitar.
5. Please Come to Boston
Even though the song starts as a typical country love song, a listener quickly hears the Coe lyrical spin. Throughout the song, the character wants someone to come to him in many different cities. As the lyrics progress, you realize that the character is running from himself and is hoping that he will be better than he is in his home state.
4. Mona Lisa Lost Her Smile
Interestingly, this song sounds like 70s mainstream in the opening chords. The instrumentation in this song is more sentimental and absent of country guitar and campy lyrics of other David Allen Coe songs. The lyrics are about a character who lost someone he can’t replace. Even though he’s singing about the other person losing their smile, the song’s sentimentality tells a different tale; it’s the singer who lost what he wanted.
3. The Ride
The character in this song is a hitchhiker who’s trying to get to Nashville, Tennessee. The chords and slide guitar create a sinister vibe. As it progresses, the listener understands that it’s likely he’s just accepted a ride with a ghost. As the song closes, it becomes clear that the up-and-coming musician just took a ride with legend Hank Williams.
2. You Never Even Called Me By My Name
According to wide open country, this song was written by Steve Goodman and John Prime as a tell-off to the music industry. In the third verse, Coe adds his signature to the other three names. As he says in the third verse, it’s the one he inspired because he knew there wasn’t any mention of country cliches like prison or trains or getting drunk. The raucousness of the song amplifies as Coe gleefully sings the verse that made this the perfect country song.
1. Take This Job and Shove It
If you want to quit your job, this is the quintessential song to walk out playing. Many artists covered this song. However, Coe initially wrote, and his style lends itself to the frustration people feel in their professions. It also speaks to the desperation we all feel when we lose everything, and our boss says one last thing that pushes the limits. Every one of the lyrics is things everyone has dreamed about saying to upper management.