Growing up in Louisville, Kentucky, I was, interestingly enough, not a big fan of country music. In fact, I hated it…hated every line about pickup trucks and going against the grain and losing your girl in a bottle of Tennessee whiskey.
It wasn’t until later in life that I finally came around to understanding that some of the old-school country (and not that top 40 cookie-cutter crap that passes as country nowadays) is actually pretty damn good. I learned that I had a serious affinity for Bluegrass, and I’ve even reached a point where I’ll seek the genre out whenever it comes on NPR.
Still, when I heard about the foul-mouthed documentary Dirty Country, I couldn’t bring myself to get excited. Sure, I love dirty novelty music as much as the next guy, but country? I didn’t know if I could sit through an hour and a half of wall-to-wall country songs.
Luckily, I didn’t have to. Dirty Country is less an exploration of the country music genre and more a tour of all things raunchy and underground in the music scene. We’re treated to twisted musical groups like Blowfly and Itis. At the heart of the story, though, is Larry Pierce, a working-class man who doesn’t know how legendary his dirty music is with truckers and other novelty-based bands. He’s a family man with a lot of heart, and if it weren’t for his earnestness and sweetness, the music would mean nothing.
In fact, without Larry the music would be borderline offensive. ”She Makes My Peter Stand Up” is a jaw-droppingly crude song–until we find out that Larry wrote it about his wife of 20+ years. All of a sudden, it’s kind of sweet.
Don’t let that fool you, though. There’s plenty of colorful and offensive vocabulary to go around. We’re treated to such gems as “Good Hard Fucking,” “I Like to Fuck,” and “Yeast Infection” (yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like).
The plot of the documentary follows a band called Itis, huge fans of Larry’s underground music, as they track down the legendary singer, explain to him his own fame and importance, and put together a show with both bands on the bill. It’s the story of a man embracing his fifteen minutes of fame and loving every minute of it.
The movie excels in its simplicity. There is never an attempt to elevate the importance of the events to anything other than what they are, and directors Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher never attempt to insert artificial drama where it doesn’t belong. Even scenes like the one where Larry is laid off from his factory job are short and understated.
In the end, though, there’s only one real reason to recommend this film: it’s funny as hell. The lyrics of the songs never cease to shock and amaze, and the sheer number of ways that these bands find to talk about the most private elements of sex is staggering and awe-inspiring.
I had the chance to see the movie with a live audience. After the show, Larry Pierce took the stage for a short set. If you ever get the chance to see the man live, I’d highly recommend it. The songs were funny and Larry’s personality was compelling. More than that, though, you could tell that he was enjoying every minute of his insane ride and not taking any of it for granted. That’s a refreshing thing.
It’s that unassuming attitude that makes you smile at the crudest parts of this movie about a blue-collar guy who loves his wife and loves to make music. About fucking.
Dirty Country is available at Amazon.com HERE.