We all seek truth in our lives. Music is one way of putting our feelings into perspective for many of us. Now the Bluesbunny also likes his ale. Maybe a bit too much sometimes. Like his obsession with spicy food, things can get taken just one bit too far. So we also appreciate a drinking song. Not many people know that there are two kinds of drinking songs - those you sing whilst consuming the demon drink in company and those you hear in your head when you are drinking alone. We have found the finest example of the latter genre in Uncle Leon's "Bartender".
It seems like a simple song. The sort of song that has been written a thousand times before and discarded with the hangover in the morning. "Bartender" thankfully survives into the cold light of day and provides us with a salutary tale of misunderstanding and longing.
Looking for a drink on a street that he has never been on before, the protagonist of this song sees a light in the darkness. A sanctuary that sells beer. On entering this strange paradise, his eyes fall upon a vision of loveliness who happens to be serving the beer. As is often the case with beer, the words that a sober person would utter are translated into something altogether more dramatic. His ill timed and inappropriate declaration of undying love provokes the lovely bartender of his dreams to tell him some home truths - "if I had a dollar for every man who said he loved me". She has been around a bit and tells our drunken train wreck to "put his heart back in his shirt". Then she buys him his next drink. Like all great songs, this song touches you. We would be lying if we said that we had not done something stupid like this ourselves. Drink can make a man think that he is a knight, a saviour who can take a woman away from the bad things in her life. This distortion of reality makes us into fools. Harmless, perhaps, but fools nonetheless. To quote the lyrics,
"There is nothing more sad or true than a man who thinks he has found what he needs in the friendly face of the one who gets paid to smile and pour him his drinks".
Reality always intrudes in the end and our hero opts, in future, to sit quietly in the corner and sip his drink. The demon drink will fool you. It will make a good man go bad and a bad man even worse. The beauty of this song is that it tells it like it is. It might even make you cry into that beer that you are drinking right now. Uncle Leon, we raise our glass and salute you!
"The Bartender" is available on vinyl from Metropolicana Records