“Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (and Loud, Loud Music)”
Is the only kind of life you’ll ever understand
Dim lights, thick smoke and loud, loud music
You’ll never make a wife to a home loving man

Drinking and dancing, to a honky tonk band
Is the only kind of life you’ll ever understand
Go run and have your fun, you think you played it smart
I’m sorry for you and your honky tonk heart

It seems like there is only one socially acceptable place to meet people—bars. For the song that Vern Gosdin made a cover of in 1985, it is for and about honky-tonk bars. He put this in the album Time Stood Still.

The thing about bars is alcohol, loud music, and crowds do not promote serious relationships. Moreover, if you are already in a relationship and you put all your time in a bar, it can put your relationship on the rocks.

Alcohol is, amongst many other things, an escape. With alcohol and music flowing, bars can heighten a “hookup culture”. If you really are looking for a serious relationship, getting involved with someone who is just in it for the night might not be the best start. However, if you are only in it for that duration, by all means!

Well, do not get me wrong. It is fun to go to a bar to dance and have a few drinks. Indeed, by chance, you might meet a nice guy or gal in a bar or nightclub. On the other hand, no one ever looks around a bar and thinks to himself, “Yup! The man/woman of my dreams is somewhere around here.”

The Background of the Song

“Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (and Loud, Loud Music)” is a country song composition by Joe Maphis, Rose Lee Maphis, and Max Fidler. Its original version in December 1952 was by the bluegrass duo Flatt & Scruggs. Later in 1953,  Joe & Rose Lee Maphis released it as a single.

Joe Maphis said he started the song after moving from barn dance shows in Virginia and Chicago to playing in a honky-tonk in Bakersfield, California. In California, he played with a band that included Buck Owens on backup vocals. Some believe that Joe Maphis wrote the song one Saturday night sometime in 1952. The story says that he was driving home to Los Angeles from Bakersfield after seeing Buck Owens perform at the Blackboard Café.