George East and I are going to see Mick Jones at The Scala on Thursday. I’m pretty excited and (Spoiler Alert!) it’s odds on that one of us will pick a Clash number later this week as a consequence.
So I’ve decided to go for a cover of a Jones song instead. Dwight Yoakam arrived in Nashville in the late Seventies to find that the music industry there wasn’t buying his brand of Country. So he went on tour with various US punk bands in the early Eighties to build his reputation instead, throwing in a few covers of his fellow bands (although not going down the full Cow Punk route).
By the end of the decade, he had broken through and become a mainstream figure. This, from his covers album Under The Covers, is him repaying the debt to punk.
Jones wrote the song following his break-up with Viv Albertine of The Slits, and its chorus refrain, “Did you stand by me?” references the line “Typical girls stand by their man” in their biggest hit in a way that conveys confusion, hurt and a touch of bitterness.
It’s a great song with lyrics that work brilliantly as a Country number, not least because it brings that wordplay on Stand By Your Man back fullcircle to its roots.