This is not the original column I submitted for this issue. And thank God. I came to my senses just as the presses were about to roll. It’s not that the column I initially submitted is bad — it’s actually pretty good; nor that it’s tasteless (which it is), nor unfunny (it made me laugh while writing it), but more that it’s SO tasteless and SO gross that I was going to generate the kind of hate mail that either gets a writer fired . . . or promoted.
My last column inspired one piece of epistolary indignation. If you remember, that was the piece about the Schermerhorn Center and how it would be a shame if it closed before anyone in Nashville learned how to spell it. Somebody without his satire radar activated thought I was making fun of the Nashville Symphony and let Chuck, our brave editor, know about it, who then let ME know about it. I was stressed for about 45 minutes until enough people assured me that the piece was funny and this one guy was just that: one guy.
And THAT was a pretty innocuous column. The piece I just pre-empted (a lengthy speculation on which rock stars might or might not have herpes) would have had so many knickers in a twist I shudder to think about it. I’m a funny guy — I make upwards of $1,200 a month being a funny guy — but sometimes I go too far, and I’ll often be the last person to notice it. Like the time I tweeted “Dachau. Like us on Facebook.” I thought that was funny as hell. No one else did.
I’ve never wanted to be one of those humorists who tests out his material on human guinea pigs before taking it to the stage. Telling a joke or knocking off a quick zinger is OK, but whole routines, no. It makes people hate you. So you just have to hit the boards and put your backside on the line; the farther out on the knife-edge you go, the higher the hazard, the higher the reward. Or penalty.
Most people don’t want to risk being pariahs, and I guess I can’t blame them. Like so many of those people, I came to this town to write songs and make friends, and I’ve done plenty of both. But I’m also the guy who called mainstream country music, in print, “the most heinous and rancid prefab sonic putrescence ever shat in the face of an innocent public.” That’s good stuff. It’s alliterative, descriptive and definite. It also might go a long way to explaining why certain suits have never gotten behind my career like I feel they should have.
Back to the column: Thank God that maybe, at the age of 50, I’ve learned a thing or two about when to put the brakes on. I recognized in advance — on my own! — that a column on rock stars’ STDs (which they might not even really have) could have had people emailing Chuck in droves, asking him why he’s wasting space with my drivel. (Given how I’ve now spent 600 words writing a column about another column, that mail might come anyway.)
So now I’ve got around 150 words to go. What to do, what to do . . . hmm . . . nice weather we’re having. No, really. Compared to the past few summers, it’s been darn temperate. None of this 100-degree crap for a week and a half. (Remember that? That sucked.) Granted, it’s been wet, too wet if you’re a farmer. Produce prices are going to spike. Not that I like salads much. Except at sushi restaurants. That dressing they put on them there — that miso stuff? I love that. I’d eat a live crow with that stuff on it. I think I’m going to go write something for my own amusement that’s so disgusting it would gross out Seth MacFarlane, and that’s high cotton when it comes to disgusting. That man is an artist.
— Tommy Womack is a singer-songwriter and author, and a former member of Government Cheese and the bis-quits. His memoir “Cheese Chronicles” has just been released as an e-book by Amber House Books. Visit his website at tommywomack.com and keep up via his popular “Monday Morning Cup of Coffee” series. His column “East of Normal” appears in every issue of The East Nashvillian. He is currently working on both a new memoir and his seventh solo record.