Whether you’re a fan of country music or not, there’s no denying the musical talent and songwriting skills of countless country artists from the past century. From Johnny Cash to Dolly Parton, Kenny Chesney to Shania Twain, the genre has made a marked cultural impact.
I’m no country music scholar, but I am three hours into a layover at the Nashville airport and Trace Adkins’ 2005 hit “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” is booming through the speakers of the saloon next to my gate. So let’s give it a listen while I wait for the Southwest agent to call boarding group B.
The song opens with a bass line that sounds like it was taken from the Seinfeld theme, over which Adkins speaks to his fellow country boys in a thick drawl. “Turn it up some / Alright boys, this is her favorite song / So, if we play it good and loud she might get up and dance again / Ohh, she put her beer down / Here she comes.” To summarize: He devised a scheme to get the ladies movin’ and it worked immediately. If only Southwest Airlines could figure out how to execute a plan so efficiently.
The first verse launches into a faster tempo and Adkins starts singing, “Hustlers shootin’ eight ball / Throwin’ darts at the wall / Feelin’ damn near ten feet tall / Here she comes, Lord help us all / Ol’ T.W.’s girlfriend done slapped him out his chair / Poor ole boy, it ain’t his fault / It’s so hard not to stare.” Who knows who T.W. is, but it’s safe to say it was his fault.
Chorus time! “At that honky tonk badonkadonk / Keepin’ perfect rhythm, make ya wanna swing along / Got it goin’ on like Donkey Kong / And oo-wee, shut my mouth, slap your grandma / There oughta be a law, get the sheriff on the phone / Lord have mercy, how’d she even get them britches on / That honky tonk badonkadonk” If this song isn’t the rural man’s “Baby Got Back,” then I don’t know what is. When they were in the studio recording, do you think they laughed at all or kept things serious the whole time? More importantly, do you think my flight will get delayed another hour?
In the bridge, Adkins advises his friends, “Boys, you better keep your distance / You can look but you can’t touch,” which is solid feminist allyship by 2005 standards. Then he closes the song with this declaration: “That’s why we do what we do / It ain’t for the money, it ain’t for the glory, it ain’t for the free whiskey / It’s for the badonkadonk.” Such a shame no one writes lyrics like that anymore. Maybe backwoods chivalry really is dead.
Hopefully, one day artists of all genres will start writing entire songs about butts again. But it looks like pre-boarding just started so I’d better line up to get my badonkadonk on this plane.