Though a really sad song, it lived long
Pirates of the Mississippi found great success in 1995 with “Feed Jake”. Feed Jake is essentially a 1990’s ‘Marley and Me’ story about a cowboy and his love for his loyal dog Jake. This song is remembered along with ‘I’m Already There’, ‘Butterfly Kisses’ and ‘She Thinks His Name Was John’ as one of those country staples guaranteed to make you weep.
At its very core this is a song about friendship and the human experience, only told through a cowboy and his guitar shtick. The song talks about people being essentially good, and just like the unfaltering and generous loyalty of dogs, we should take care of everyone.
Digging the lyrics deeper
At the heart of this is the stirring image of a man kneeling down to deliver the “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep” bedtime prayer — pleading someone to care for his best friend, a dog named Jake if his owner should die before he wakes.
However, “Feed Jake” is much deeper than the ballad of an orphaned pet. Remarkably progressive for a circa-1991 country song, “Jake” champions the rights of the homeless and lends support to the gay community:
Now if you get an ear pierced, some will call you gay.
But if you drive a pickup, they’ll say “no, you must be straight”
What we are and what we ain’t, what we can and what we can’t.
Does it really matter
But what really gets audiences, and puts this song in categories with ‘Butterfly Kisses’, is the idea that a rough and tumble cowboy’s nightly prayers ask only that if he dies that someone feeds his dog. You can’t get more sentimental than that. But in the end, there is something heartwarming but not slushy about this song.
How can you knock someone for singing about how people should be as loyal as little labrador retrievers?
The Pirates of the Mississippi
A group of five session musicians who formed in 1987 in order to have a little fun, the Pirates of the Mississippi were one of a handful of country bands who emerged in the wake of the Kentucky Headhunters’ success in the early ’90s. The Pirates of the Mississippi didn’t blend genres or joke around like the Kentucky Headhunters, yet they weren’t smooth country-rock like Alabama. Instead, they were a straightforward country band, with hints of ragged enthusiasm and exceptional instrumental and vocal skills.
All five members of the Pirates of the Mississippi — Bill McCorvey (lead vocals, guitar), Rich Alves (guitar), Dean Townson (bass), Jimmy Lowe (drums), and Pat Severs (steel guitar) — were Nashville session musicians during the ’80s. In 1987, they began playing together regularly, usually in clubs around Nashville. Eventually, an A&R representative at Capitol Nashville signed the group to a deal. In the summer of 1990, their eponymous debut was released, as was their cover of Hank Williams’ “Honky Tonk Blues.
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