Going Down in History
The intersection of Operation Ivy-style punk and country works way better than you might imagine.
The Waco Brothers sing, straight up, “Cheap gas, my ass / Democracy is dead at last,” on Going Down in History, in case you were wondering whether you were in for some Operation Ivy or Screeching Weasel-ass punk in this zine. Luckily it’s better than Screeching Weasel, at least, because fuck those guys.
Going Down in History definitely has that late-’80s to early-aughts anarchist vibe to it, as in the aforementioned lyric off “Building Our Own Prison,” but also in how the record opens and closes. The last lyric on the album is “it could be alright / it could be alright / I’ll be your Waco Brother for the night” and the first is “This is the first track from the last album.” There’s a(n, honestly, relatively thick) line between self-assuredness and deprecation that so much punk treads, and that in a weird way country does too.
In punk, that assuredness often gets theorized into a form of radical political action in one way or another, while the deprecation side of things tends to take a broad variety of outcomes. And, of course, the same could be said of country, in a weird way. Not to play the game of Find The Real Radical Tactic, and to overly generalize, but: in punk it seems often a form of living in either the refusal-to-die sense or the beyond-bare-life sense, while in country it’s more often used in more or less explicit class solidarity.
Not that any of that is true, per se; and especially not of broad, sustained, geographically disparate aesthetic categories like musical genres. It’s different scene to scene, and even intra-scene is differentiated; it’s hardly even fair to generalize genre to genre.
But then, that’s at least part of the benefit of being something like country punks. It’s the kind of shock juxtaposition that’s actually potentially productive, that can get some thoughts sorted, one way or the other. The alternative is to shock by being Ben Weasel and showing just how shitty and misogynist punk can be, which, well. Fuck him.