#99 Dave Dudley The Pool Shark (1970, Mercury)

Info: 11 tracks

My Copy: Vinyl

When and where I acquired it: Some time in the early 90’s at the late great Circles of Sound in Fort Walton Beach (1985–2005). It was a two-hour drive so I only went when I had money, probably twice a year on average. All things considered the best record store I ever frequented.

Why I acquired it: I had heard of Dave Dudley, but I really became interested when this LP’s  two signature songs (see below–both written by Tom T. Hall) were recommended by the late, great John Morthland in his invaluable The Best of Country Music. Thank God for Circles of Sound. I might still be looking.

When Rachel Sweet warned you not to go drinking in the Wildwood Saloon, the man in Dave Dudley’s “This Night Ain’t Fit For Nothing But Drinking” was probably who she had in mind. (If the title alone doesn’t convince you just look at that cover. If that doesn’t convince you, check yourself into rehab.) There are reasonably lighthearted moments, including “The Pool Shark,” the LP’s other monster track (and, amazingly, Dave’s only #1 Country single) but what makes it a great album is Dudley’s ability to negotiate the distance in between and then sum it all up with “Whose Arms Did You Fall Out Of Now.”

With Red Sovine, Dudley was the definitive King of Truck Driving songs, a once-thriving sub-genre of country music and a significant part of the music’s audience, now long neglected, if not forgotten. He was also a classic stoic, a stance that may have been imposed by the limitations of his muted-bullhorn voice but suited him–and those he chose to represent–to a T in any case. He reminded me of a lot of men I grew up around. If I meet them now, they are not younger than seventy. They tended to think even less of the world than I did and I’m almost sorry I’ve lived long enough to realize they were right all along.

We’re not gonna’ sugarcoat it here, folks. Forget the night. Take it from a tee-totaller deluxe who ain’t planning to change.

This WORLD ain’t fit for nothing but drinking!

Next up: The Rock and Roll Trio.