Steve Goodman and John Prine were the geniuses behind the song “You Never Even Called Me by My Name”. David Allan Coe was the man who made it famous through his recording. It was the third single release of Coe’s career, included in his album Once Upon a Rhyme. On the Billboard country singles charts, the song was Coe’s first Top Ten hit that peaked at the eighth spot. Having five minutes in length, this track became really famous. Its humorous self-description as “the perfect country and western song” served as a lyrical middle finger to the music industry in Nashville, Tennessee at that time.
Revisiting Coe and “You Never Even Called Me by My Name”
During the ’70s, true country outlaw David Allan Coe’s edgy sound struggled to earn respect and airplay within the music country industry. His now-infamous track, “You Never Even Called Me by My Name”, earned him a chart-topping song. From this, he was able to make his breakthrough as a solo artist.
When Goodman gave the track, Coe said that there was no way for it to be a country hit song. Knowing that country music uses references to “mama, trains, trucks, prison, or getting drunk”, he thought it would not sell. Goodman contradicted this by adding the final spoken verse that humorously adds in those clichés.
In its second verse, Coe lists off and does some cheeky impressions of Waylon Jennings, Charley Pride, and Merle Haggard. These were some of the genre’s biggest hitmakers during his time. Even though the lyrics of the song are about the initial introduction of pop music into the country genre, it is a song many traditionalists go back to. It just shows how much they love the original. Now, with country music splitting—pop and Americana, Coe’s “You Never Even Called Me by My Name” is worth revisiting.
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