...but Rob Harvilla's piece in the Voice about the so-called best and worst songs from the Truckers' newest record got me seeing a little red. I'll admit Southernness is a badge I may wear too proudly at times in the popcrit sphere, mainly because we're such an obvious minority and because "our" music has so often been ignored, misrepresented, or lauded in patronizing tones. Harvilla's intentions here seem totally fine, but as a (presumed) Northerner I think he's (perhaps inevitably) reacting too skittishly to the supposed cultural cliches embedded in "Bob." We as Southerners live much more comfortably with these motifs and tropes, and while we may sometimes take umbrage to lazy swipes at pickup trucks, NASCAR and redneckery in general, it doesn't change the fact that these things DO permeate our region, and believe it or not, they ain't all bad! From my first listen until now, "Bob" strikes me as simply a clever, quiet vignette. To me the line about not bending over isn't an insinuation of possible queerness so much as just a quite wry and on-the-nose depiction of how a guy like Bob would probably think about such things (though I'm not discounting the queer reading either).
Much of my frustration also goes back to something I brought up in my own Pitchfork review of the record, namely the puzzling insistence of most (Yankee?) critics to put the complicated Hood on a pedestal at the expense of his ostensibly more generic, joke-a-minute sidekick Cooley. Certainly, Patterson's lent the Truckers a distinctiveness relative to their genre(s) of southern rock/alt-country/whathaveyou that the Stroker Ace might not offer, but don't forget that ever since Southern Rock Opera it's basically been Cooley alone who has infused DBT with the sense of humor that's allowed the band to truly stand out in a pervasively dour No Depression field.