Country music, more than many other genres, is known for its lyrical wordplay.
Double entendre, puns, unexpected turns of phrase -- the best country stars and songwriters don't shy away from a literary device. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that when these artists are playing with words, they sometimes decide to play a little dirty.
Some of those songs you always suspected were a little dirty; with others, you somehow never grasped that "hidden" meaning. Here are 12 of our favorites:
We hate to be the ones to spell it out, but if you haven’t put it together yet … Big & Rich don’t actually want to give someone a platonic horse ride. This song does not involve an actual scarcity-of-horses situation. Someone tell “Old Leroy” -- the only real horse in this song -- to plug his ears!
“Pickin’ Wildflowers” stays subtle enough for a while: There’s a lot about finding a “spot way back in the woods” and keeping it covert “undercover on the ground by the water,” and you might find yourself thinking, “Maybe this song is just about a nice walk in the woods.” But then, Anderson brings up the birds and the bees ... literally: “I'll buzz around, maybe do some pollinating,” he sings. “Yeah, dive in like honeybees.”
“Sun Daze” starts off sounding like a nice, light song celebrating all things beachy and summertime, a tune about nothing other than enjoying the summer weather. The narrator loves “getting [his] sun daze on,” and you’ll keep thinking that it’s innocent for a little while -- that is, until he and his lady friend are “sippin’ Bacardi” (fine!) while they’re "turn[ing] on some Marley” (fine!), and then he sits her “up on the kitchen sink” (okay ...) and "stick[s] the pink umbrella in your drink” (... oh my).
“The Fireman” is a little more subtle and straightforward than other songs on this list, but for 1984, Strait was bringing the entendre. He’s a fireman, he claims, “making my rounds all over town, putting out old flames" -- but he’s also got wink-wink paramedic lines, like when he sings, “Well, my buddy walked out and left his woman burnin' out of control / Well, I was down there in about an hour or so / With a little mouth-to-mouth, she was ready to go.” He’s not a good friend, but he’s good at sneaking in some double meanings!
This could just be a song about a friendly man teaching a beautiful woman how to park a car ... but it’s not. How do we know for sure? Maybe it’s the opening line: “I know you scared of that cock-a-doodle-do.” Maybe it’s all of the farm-based sexual innuendo. Maybe it’s how the narrator keeps calling himself “daddy.” Or maybe it’s just how Moore keeps repeating the chorus line, “If you gonna work a farm, you gotta learn to drive a truck / Honey, back that thing up.”
Lambert mixes her metaphors masterfully in “Fine Tune.” First, she's talking about her missing vital signs and how she was “almost in need of a defibrillator” -- but then, it’s a car-repair situation, where the hero “pulled up in a rescue truck / Showed up with a master key / And revved it up for me.” But then, Lambert sings, “You started tweaking on a little knob / That I didn't even know was there” and it’s … just very much a song about sex.
“Love keeps tastin’ better every day,” Robison sings in “Love Means Never Having to Say You’re Hungry,” a song in which the narrator is enamored with the taste and smell and feeling in his stomach he gets from … food. Suuuure ... from food. He gets hungrier and hungrier as the song goes on, finally exclaiming, “Well, you know I love her biscuits / You know I love her buns / You know I'll eat her brisket / I ain't ever had more fun / I love her enchiladas / I love her refried beans / Add a couple of jalapenos / And you'll know just what I mean.” Either he’s at Old Country Buffet, or this song isn’t actually about food.
Jackson’s not talking about his truck when he sings, “Climb in my bed / I’ll take you for a ride,” but if you still think he’s maybe just singing about a good, long drive in a truck, maybe you’ll change your mind when he gets to the part where he says, “Let me know when we're gettin' close / You can slide on out, or we can head on down the road.” For a song that turns truck parts into double entendre, we appreciate the positive portrayal of enthusiastic consent!
“Fish” tries to act like a reverse double entendre. Most songs on this list pretend they’re about trucks or picking flowers when, actually, they’re about sex -- but “Fish” opens up pretending it's actually talking about sex (“The first time we did it, I was scared to death,” Campbell sings), then pivots to the chorus, in which it’s revealed that Campbell is really singing about how his baby loves to … fish. Of course, he’s still talking about sex. So it’s less of a reverse double entendre, and more of a … double double entendre?
Church has a nice sized … collection. Record collection, that is. “Yeah, the night I showed it to her, I'll never forget it,” he remembers. “One shot of "Whiskey River," and she was gone, long gone / She couldn't leave my Willie alone.” And by “Willie,” of course, he swears he means … his Willie Nelson records.
In terms of vehicles-as-women metaphors, ragtops are God’s gift to country lyricists. A ragtop does show up in “Big Green Tractor,” but Aldean is interested in as many “riding” metaphors as he can squeeze in. “I can take you for a ride on my big green tractor / We can go slow or make it go faster," he sings. Then, in case the double meaning wasn’t clear, he continues, “Climb up in my lap and drive if you want to / Girl, you know you got me to hold on to.”
On a list like this one, being ridiculous is what earns you the top spot. And that’s not all Paisley wins: His song "Ticks" also wins the “You weren’t even trying to be subtle, were you?” award. After that, he wins the “This starts out adorable and ends up horrifying” award, specifically for the line “I'd like to walk you through a field of wildflowers / And I'd like to check you for ticks.” He also wins the “This is kind of gross” award, because, ewwww, having ticks is nasty. Truly, “Ticks” is the perfect song for those who are fans of not only love, but Lyme disease prevention.