I generally don't want to hear an athlete sing, any more than I want to watch a singer swim or play ball. Or a pig play a piano, which is something you can watch at Opryland in Nashville. My brother-in-law Gerald watched it but wouldn't clap afterward. "I refuse to applaud a pig," he says.
He might applaud, or at least commend, a pig for doing something unusual that had some connection with what a pig is supposed to do, though. It is in that spirit that I salute NASCAR Goes Country, a recent album from MCA ($5.99) in which six prominent stock-car drivers—Bobby Allison, Buddy Baker, Darrell Waltrip, David Pearson, Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough—sing 11 country-flavored songs with little strain. Driving has played a big role in country music. On this album we have Mabellene ("Rain water blowing all under my hood, but I knew that was doing my motor good"), Six Days on the Road ("Well, muh rig's a little old, but that don't mean it's slow...."), and Hey, Good Look in' ("I got a hot rod Chevy and a two dollar bill...."). The reason it is a Chevy instead of a Ford is that Yarborough sings it and he drives a Chevrolet. I don't think Hank Williams, who died in the backseat of a moving Cadillac, would have minded the switch. Or country star Marty Robbins, who when he cracked up a Dodge at the Winston 500 in Talladega, Ala. last month sang his song El Paso to himself to make sure he was still in one piece, and then quit racing for the fourth time.
None of the drivers rivals Hank or Marty at singing, but they are clearly at home with their material. One song that stands out is Butterbeans, rendered vigorously by Baker: "See that woman over there,/The one with both hands in the air./She's not as pregnant as she seems./She's just full of butterbeans."
But my favorite is Ninety-nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall, which you seldom hear on a record. The drivers join in, and by the time they get down to six or seven bottles there is an argument going on as to whether it is six or seven, and a lot of glass breaking may be heard, but everybody—including the Jordanaires, who lend valuable vocal support throughout the album—is singing with a good deal of spirit. I don't suppose the Jordanaires, whom I associate with gospel, or stock-car drivers, who have to do so much careful driving, ever really drink beer to excess, but I don't mind a little stretching of the truth for the sake of a rousing album.