'I'm the Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised' and Other Country Music Puns

More

Country music is known for its word play. The genre is full of songs with titles like "If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me?," "Nothing On But the Radio," and "You Look So Good In Love." But is this hallmark of the genre also preventing it from gaining new fans? As part of a week long series about country, NPR re-posted a 1999 essay that questions whether this excessive use of puns makes people biased against the music:

For some people, of course, this sort of punning just confirms a sense of country music as a linguistic trailer park. Since Tennyson's time, punning has been deprecated as the basest form of humor, to the point where it is usually a kind of veiled aggressiveness. Habitual punsters live for groans the way violinists live for applause. Sophisticated people may make exceptions for the literary puns of Joyce or Nabokov or the urbane word play of 30s show tunes. But they have trouble finding a place for someone who make puns in earnest, particularly in a sentimental ballad.

Read the full story at NPR.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Eleanor Barkhorn is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Why Do People Love Times Square?

A filmmaker asks New Yorkers and tourists about the allure of Broadway's iconic plaza


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Why Do People Love Times Square?

A filmmaker asks New Yorkers and tourists about the allure of Broadway's iconic plaza

Video

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Writers

Up
Down

More in Entertainment

Just In