From the Vault...


David Allan Coe
"Tattoo/Family Album"

© Bear Family Records

Year of Release: 1995

track listing
  • Just To Prove My Love
    For You
  • Face To Face
  • You'll Always Live
    Inside Of Me
  • Play Me A Sad Song
  • Daddy Was A God
    Fearin' Man
  • Canteen Of Water
  • Maria Is A Mystery
  • Just In Time
    (To Watch Love Die)
  • San Francisco Mabel Joy
  • Hey Gypsy
    Family Album:
  • Family Album
  • Million Dollar Memories
  • Divers Do It Deeper
  • Guilty Footsteps
  • Take This Job And
    Shove It
  • Houston Dallas
    San Antone
  • I've Got To Have You
  • Whole Lot Of Lonesome
  • Bad Impressions
  • Heavenly Father
    Holy Mother
  • (If I Could)
    Climb The Walls
    Of The Bottle

  • WSVNRadio Archives
    A B C D E F G H I J K L M
    N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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    David Allan Coe
    "Tattoo/Family Album"

    David Allan Coe marks his debut this week, as Bear Family Records does it again, with releasing original albums by an artist. They released two-fer albums of Coe's original albums. This week, we look at Tattoo (1977) and Family Album (1978).

    As I listened to this album, and not really remembering his music while growing up -- I could easily see him as one of the finest Country singers of the 1970s. Merle Haggard, George Jones, Waylom Jennings, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Jr., the list goes on. Likewise, his lyrics were more personal, and more serious, such as alcohol, drug use, and more of a cocky attitude. Maybe it was his roughness of character, as he was more like this, most likely hard to get along with. Not to say many other Country artists were the same way. Likewise, where artists such as Merle and Cash were cranking out popular hits, it wasn't really the same for Coe's own music. However, Coe was more of a songwriter, as he penned such songs as "Would You Lay With Me In A Field Of Stone" (Tanya Tucker), and "Take This Job And Shove It" (Johnny Paycheck).

    On that note, an interesting little information that David Allan Coe included on Tattoo -- Maybe this pretty much sums it up, on why his music never really got the recognition, due to his life character: To all who hear me, Let them know that this is truth. And to those that see me, let them tell their children they have witnessed a miracle. And to those that love me, let them forgive my shortcomings. And to those that despise me, let them spend half the time in Hell that I have. And to those that judge me, let them look in the mirror. And to those that want it, here is one more tattoo. Take it, it's yours. -- David Allan Coe

    With the exception of only two songs, Coe had written or co-written all of the songs. There are so many comparisons to the great Country artists here. As a whole, Tattoo sees a softer style (in music), compared to the upbeat, honky-tonk Country style. Hank Jr. gets the compare on the opener, "Just To Prove My Love For You". "Face To Face" compares to George Jones. Merle Haggard has many comparisons: "You'll Always Live Inside Of Me," "Daddy Was A God Fearin' Man."

    "Play Me A Sad Song" has the ultimate Country & Western lyrics. (Didn't 99% of all Country songs from the 1970s have sad, and cheatin' and drinkin' lyrics?) This set of tunes shows the mellow side in sound, as they all get the Merle Haggard compare, and also a little of George Jones: "Canteen Of Water," "Maria Is A Mystery," "Just In Time (To Watch Love Die)," "San Francisco Mabel Joy," "Hey Gypsy."

    Family Album:
    Dear Family and Friends, My Life and music change like the seasons. I hope you never expect me to stand still either musically or personally. My life has taken on new dimensions with each passing day. I continue to grow both as a person and as an artist.

    The past year has been a full and rewarding one for me. I've written a book about my life entitled "Just For The Record." With its completion, I've begun work on another book as an aid to men in prison, which deals with the problems of parole. I also co-starred in a movie, the title of which will be either "Seabo" or "Buckstone County Prison Farm," and is due to be released sometime in the spring of 1978. In addition, I wrote Take This Job And Shove It, a big hit for Johnny Paycheck which has been included on this album.

    Currently, I am working with a new band featuring Wendell Atkins. Wendell and his band work out of Dallas, Texas, when they're not out on the road with me.
    My personal life is happy and contended, and, as most of you know, I'm now living in Florida Keyes, with my family.

    So, as you can see, although the "Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy" may be dead, David Allan Coe is vey much alive. I hope this album shows you a few more sides to me and helps you get to know me a little better. As a magician, I've become one of the greatest close-up performers in the world and will soon have a magic surprise for all my fans as part of our new road show.

    Love, David Allan Coe, The High Priest Of Country Music.

    You could probably say the Glen Campbell song was based loosely on Coe's fictious character. This was taken from a page from Rhinestones are fake jewels that are popular on Country-style clothing. They show up nicely on stage, so they are a popular fashion choice for some flamboyant Country singers. One such singer was David Allan Coe, who called himself the "Rhinestone Cowboy" and released an album in 1974 called The Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy. As Coe tells it, Mel Tillis gave him some Rhinestone suits, which he would wear backstage at the Grand Ol' Opry. When he went into the audience, the glistening suits made people think he was a star, even though he was a nobody at the time. Asked for autographs, he signed them, "The Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy."
    Songwriter Larry Weiss, who had penned songs for The American Breed, The Animals, and The Outsiders wrote the song that would be a #1 hit for Glen Campbell in 1975, "Rhinestone Cowboy."

    Along with the introduction note from Coe's Family Album, Coe mentions a note for each song on this particular album.

    Continuing from Tattoo, there are the mellow tunes, as these are very similar to Merle Haggard and George Jones. The remaining tunes have the "good ol' Country" sound, as this album blends well, with traditional (good) Country music.

    The title track is mellow, and has spoken word lyrics. Very Merle Haggard-ish. It's note: Dedicated to my mothers, Dorothy Coe Landrum, and Lucille Coburn Coe.
    Mormon men were always blessed with many wives and this was a fact often elaborated on after the change in the church. But it was hard for a man with more than one wife, it was twice as hard for a child with more than one mother. I think both of mine played a great part in my life and still do. This song is for them. So they'll know, I've grown up. As they would have wanted me to. An independent, strong young Mormon who has lost his church, his past, his presence and is concentrating entirely on the future. I love you both."

    "Good ol' Country" on "Million Dollar Memories." It's note: This song is dedicated to Jerry Lee Lewis, Gary Stewart and Mickey Gilley. May the honky tonk piano live forever and the gut bucket drinking songs they sing never lose their importance in Country music. Think about it.

    "Divers Do It Deeper" was a song that may or may not have been a song that sounded like Jimmy Buffett's "Changes In Lattiudes, Changes In Attitudes." Buffett stated that "I would have sued him, but I didn't want to give Coe the pleasure of having his name in the paper." Coe would later write an insult song towards Buffett, which would appear on an X-rated album, entitled Nothing Sacred. And yes, it does sound like the Jimmy Buffett tune in question -- I know the Buffett song very well, as I admit, I am a Jimmy Buffett fan.

    "Divers Do It Deeper" note: Dedicated to the Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy. You've helped me make it through some hard times and I loved your character. You became a part of me that I will never forget. Your craziness was my salvation and your honest music was the only thing that kept me eating those peanut butter sandwiches.

    The Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy was Coe's third studio album. During this time, he performed in a rhinestone suit and mask which resembled The Lone Ranger, calling himself the "Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy."

    "Guilty Footsteps" is another "good ol' Country" tune, and a fine one. It's note: Dedication: Faron Young and Mel Tillis. If you want to hear a good song, we wrote this one for you both. See Mama Smith, I told you I'd pitch them the song.

    "Take This Job And Shove It" -- If you're a true Country fan, there's no doubt you know the Johnny Paycheck version, being the most popular. Coe wrote it, and his version is "more Country" I would say, to Paycheck's version. Listen to it, and this is another true good ol' Country song. It's note: Dedicated to John Austin Paycheck: It was ten years ago on the Wheel Bar on Broadway in Nashville. This guy was trying to play steel guitar with my band. He wasn't very good on guitar then on guitar, but later that night he sang a song call All. It sure took him a long time to make it. Boy can he sing.

    "Houston, Dallas, San Antone" -- good ol' Country, and it's note: Dedication: Charley Pride. When I wrote this song I thought, Boy if Charley could sing this one it would be a hit. But of course I was afraid to send him a tape copy. It would have hurt me too much to be rejected. I couldn't take the chance. So I decided to sing it myself and hope he'd hear the album.

    More on the mellow side, with "I've Got To Have You." It's note: Dedication: Willie Nelson. What can I say except I love you, for what you are and what you stand for and all you've done for me spirtually, musically and emotionally. I hope you never get too big to speak to me.

    Mellow style again, on "Whole Lot Of Lonesome." It's note: Dedicated to George Jones and Tammy Wynette. D-I-V-O-R-C-E. What else can be said.
    (Coe co-wrote this particular song with George Jones.)

    "Bad Impressions" This one does have "impressions," but I don't think they're bad. Read the note on this: Dedications: Some of the men I've been influenced with in Country music are Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb, Marty Robbins, Freddy Hart, Johnny Paycheck, Jerry Lee Lewis, George Jones, Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash. This song is dedicated to them for when you hear me sing there's a little bit of each of them in my voice.
    (Also to mention are these other artists in this song: Bill Anderson, Gary Stewart.)

    And another good mellowish tune is "Heavenly Father, Holy Mother." It's note: Dedicated to all Mormons either of the new church or the old or even those who like myself, have only the family church unity. May you grow strong and multiply and continue to be the figureheads of your families and symbols of freedom. Pray for me I am a holy man that has lost sight of reality in search of truth and passion, in search of satisfaction and money, in search of peace of mind and love, in search of heavenly saint hood. But I haven't lost sight of the "vision" we all have shared.

    Lastly, there's some good ol' Country in "(If I Could) Climb The Walls Of The Bottle" -- (another great true Country and Western song title) ... This song was co-written by a future Country star at the time, (the late) Dan Seals.

    David Allan Coe never really achieved the superstar recognition he deserved. Maybe it was his attitude, like cursing during his performances. Maybe it was the X-rated songs he recorded. (They would be known as his Underground albums.) Maybe it was he was in prison. Oh wait, the attitude, the cursing, and prison -- many Country stars more popular than him had done that. Read his album main note from Tattoo again, and it pretty much sums it up on how Coe's life was; whether you liked him or not.

    Despite not being as popular, his lyrics were described as humorous or comedic. Many of his songs were written from the heart, just as other popular Country songwriters/performers. One described him as "a great, unashamed country singer, singing the purest honky-tonk and hardest country of his era. He may not be the most original outlaw, but there's none more outlaw than him." Outlaw, definitely. He may not have recorded with the Outlaws as Waylon and Willie and the likes. Yet, with both Waylon and Johnny Cash gone, Willie Nelson could easily recruit him as a Highwayman. Willie and Merle Haggard recorded an album together. Willie and Merle, along with Kris Kristofferson, and David Allan Coe could be the next Highwaymen. Just a thought. Just a suggestion.

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