I had a bit of medical trouble late last year, so I spent the entire first six or seven months of 2012 immersed in '80s alternative rock. I suppose it was a sort of cocoon of some kind. I was in a rotten mood most of the time, so anything by the Cure, Echo & the Bunnymen or the Smiths was perfect. Most of that crap is pretty bleak.
But I am feeling much better now, and my sunnier disposition has led me to popular country music, or else it's the other way around. I can't even drink anymore (and don't want to), but these guys are giving me a healthy buzz all the same.
Trashy fun is all over country radio right now -- it's none of this apocalyptic end-times BS afflicting so much of pop culture. I had trouble describing Tim McGraw's stupefyingly masculine "Truck Yeah" at his recent Reliant Stadium show; I should have just left it at "awesome." At some point I realized I like country music because the songs are about things: Trucks, girls, girls in trucks.
Luke Bryan slurs something about a woman throwing cherry bombs into his fire, while Dierks Bentley wonders if he's the only one who wants to have fun tonight (he's not), or else he's going 5-1-5-0 about a girl. A new group called Florida Georgia Line has one about a woman so hot she makes the singer want to roll his windows down. That's good stuff.
We'll leave how much today's country has appropriated its swagger and slang from hip-hop to another blog. Perhaps we'll discuss Blake Shelton's "Hillbilly Bone" then.
Then along came "Pontoon." My heart almost stopped again.
"Pontoon" is a song by the four-piece Nashville-via-Alabama group Little Big Town that may have been written by the Antichrist, although the actual credits list Barry Dean, Natalie Hemby and Luke Laird. I have recently taken to listening to KILT in my office, and have found myself holding my breath a little when the station comes back from commercial, wondering if I'll be greeted by that mandolin lick that sticks into your ear like a screwdriver.
It happened Thursday morning. If there's one thing country stars these days love more than their trucks, it's a boat. "Pontoon" describes an afternoon on the water in painstaking detail, with a back-and-forth rhythm that approximates actual floating. Here is the first verse, a step-by-step guide to enjoying your own aquatic matinee:
Back this hitch up into the water
Untie all the cables and rope
Step onto the Astroturf
Get yourself a coozie, let's go
However, there is also a strict code of etiquette that must be followed if one wants to float with Little Big Town.
Who said anything about skiin'?
Floatin' is all I wanna do
You can climb the ladder
Just don't rock the boat while I barbecue
Later comes yet another rule: "Reach your hand down into the cooler, don't drink it if the mountains aren't blue." Then the chorus.
On the pontoon
Makin' waves and catchin' rays up on the roof
Jumpin' out the back, don't act like you don't want to
"Pontoon" is a great word for any song, but especially one that uses it as the title. Of course it describes the watercraft in question but, heavily accented on the first syllable, it also acts like a depth charge that lets the whole rest of the chorus float back up. Then Little Big Town finally get down to brass tacks.
Out here in the open
Aha! Sure, motorboatin' is simply the act of spending time on a motorized watercraft (also driving one), but if you'll remember from Wedding Crashers, motorboatin' is also the act of someone placing their head between a woman's breasts. Some people choose to go ahead and make a "Bronx Cheer" raspberry sound while they're down there; others don't.
According to Urban Dictionary, performing the act of motorboatin' sometimes makes a person a "motorboatin' son of a bitch."
It stands to reason it would be possible to perform the act of motorboatin' while on an actual motorboat much like the one in "Pontoon." In fact, this type of activity could even be commonplace when friends are makin' waves and catchin' rays and waiting for those mountains to turn blue.
You've been warned. Please follow proper water safety procedures. The video is below.
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It will destroy you. I'm sorry.