This Country compilation came my way just before Christmas, as a result of a number of contributary factors. First and foremost, I happen to rather like this style of music. I also thought it looked like a very well put together collection, allowing old favourites and classic tracks to stand side by side with much more contemporary stuff. Then there's my addiction to buying up compilations of all shapes, sizes and genres to be taken into consideration. Oh, and to be fair, there was that fifteen seconds or so where I flirted with the idea of actually giving it away to someone else as a Christmas present. No, I'm lying there - it probably wasn't even fifteen seconds; but then, nobody else that I was buying festive gifts for could ever have been more deserving of these 5 CDs than I. I mean to say, I organised Christmas away for us all, in a cottage in the middle of nowhere. I was owed, big style! In hindsight, I'm owed a course of psychiatric appointments I think - for coming up with such a ridiculous idea in the first place.
However, I was more than happy to share these 100 tracks with everyone else in that cottage with me. Well, I say 'happy' - it was only on Christmas Eve (someone said 'Thank God' there, who was that? Oh, hang about... it was me) - and only after I had been threatened with violence if I tried to play any more 'Bananarama' tracks on our one and only CD player. Well, violence or being sent to my room until Boxing Day. Which wouldn't really have been a big deal, provided I could have had the CD player and either these 5 discs or my 'Bananarama' collection with me. But someone (I forget who it was now, but if I ever remember, their name's going on the top of my hit list) then suggested chucking my ex-wife (also one of my guests - does anyone actually know the name of a good psychiatrist? I would be most grateful) in there with me and locking the door; from the outside. Good God. Now, when it comes to spreading the 'Nana' word, there's 'fighting the good fight' and then there's a particularly nasty form of assisted suicide. Whatever; '100 Hits: Country' did an admirable job of entertaining the troops on Christmas Eve. Well, sort of.
Country music is able to convey all sorts of emotions in really quite clever ways and that was something I tried to put to good use on Christmas Eve. The thing was, I really wanted to talk to my ex-wife about a whole range of different issues (chief amongst them, whether or not she still hated my guts)... but I didn't particularly fancy trying to engineer any kind of situation where I might have ended up being on my own with her. On the other hand, being surrounded by a gaggle of argumentative trouble-makers wasn't really conducive to any kind of deep and meaningful conversation with my former beloved either. How very fortunate then, thought I, that I had '100 Hits: Country' at my fingertips.
Actually, it wasn't until we'd been round all the CDs once that the idea of trying to communicate with my ex-wife on another level first occurred to me. During that time, I'd got the measure of one or two of the lyrics and I'd managed to get a feel for the mood of one or two of the songs. That's over five hours' worth of music by the way. Although we didn't actually listen to all 100 tracks because I didn't consider it to be a good idea to allow Tammy Wynette's 'D.I.V.O.R.C.E' to blare out at 80 decibels. It's a lovely song, heartbreaking even, but entirely inappropriate for that kind of occasion. In fact, just to be on the safe side, CD1 mysteriously 'vanished' just after that. Which was a shame really, since songs like 'Boot Scootin' Boogie' and 'The Cowboy Stomp' were temporarily doing big business in the 'getting people dancing around the house' stakes.
'Do It In A Heartbeat' then, on CD2, was my first attempt at establishing some kind of subliminal two-way with her. It's a very nice song, with lyrics about jumping through hoops of fire in order to impress whoever Carlene Carter is singing to. Given who I myself was effectively 'singing to', I may have fared better with a little something about dropping dead in front of her and trying to impress her that way but, no matter - it definitely got her attention.
Coincidentally, Ms Carter was the singer on my next port of call as well, 'My Dixie Darlin''. The line I was especially keen to convey there was 'My heart is ever true, I love no-one but you' which would have spelled out my feelings for my ex-wife quite poetically. Unfortunately, she seemed to take umbrage at that line for some reason. Fair enough, I'm hardly anyone's idea of a 'catch', but for her to march up to the CD player at that point, cut Ms Carter off in her prime and then, very purposefully, select 'Talking In Your Sleep' from disc 3 was all a bit, well, disconcerting. No words were spoken between us as I listened to the lyrics of that song myself while pondering the riddle of how my ex-wife can frown so ferociously that her eyes almost completely disappear. For a man of almost no discernible intelligence, I got the message she was trying to convey to me pretty quickly I think. For, unlike Crystal Gayle's story (and, admittedly, not quite in keeping with me saying that I loved no-one but her only a few moments beforehand), I've been told that when I myself talk in my sleep, what I say does apparently often hint at the presence of Siobhan Fahey in my dreams somehow. Or sometimes Robert Stack, but I'd rather not go there if you don't mind. Yes. I did have to admit, my former wife did have a very good point there.
That very much brought my own role as D.J. to an extremely abrupt halt and she herself only played one more song. Although she played that one at least a dozen blessed times. I had so many other songs to share with her though, that's the annoying thing. I never got to dance around the kitchen with her to the sound of 'Are You From Dixie (Cause I'm From Dixie Too)', nor did I get the opportunity to chase her around the garden while 'Yakety Axe' (aka 'The Benny Hill Theme') played loudly in the background. Most especially, I never got to stare intently at her (probably while still pondering the riddle of where her eyes disappear to when she frowns) while she listened to the lyrics of 'It's Just A Matter Of Time'. That is one beautiful song, no question. Randy Travis could have told her what I really wanted to - that I will always love her and that I will, so far as is reasonably practicable at least, remain faithful to her while I wait for her to come to her senses (with the obvious exception of any fantasies I may have about Siobhan Fahey of course... or Robert Stack. If you do know the name of a good psychiatrist, you will tell me, won't you?).
But I couldn't do any of that, because my activities were ended prematurely. Mind you, that's quite appropriate I suppose, considering how many activities during our married life also ended somewhat prematurely, being usually only ever half-completed anyway - if that. Which was quite clearly at the bottom of why 'Shotgun Willie' was then played over and over again at steadily increasing volume. 'A Shotgun Willie sits around in his underwear', that's what Willie Nelson sings, along with something about having 'all his family there'. Which, of course, I did: each and every one of them being inordinately keen to find out why that particular song meant so very much to my ex-wife. And, boy, did she tell them.
I still say these five discs offer a fabulous collection of Country music. But I think, in my case, this product should only ever be played when I'm on my own. And I'm certainly not keen to hear 'Shotgun Willie' again any time soon.