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And he'll never have that recipe again, or what's wrong with Dave Barry

Country Musings by Robert Loy, June 1999

I bow to no one in my appreciation of Dave Barry. He is easily the second greatest American humorist of the Twentieth Century. (Mark Twain was still alive until 1910, and nobody can touch Mr. Clemens.) His works have a place of honor on my bookshelf, and I know that on a blue day I can pick up any one of them and find at least a smile, more likely a belly laugh.

I have a couple of quibbles with the book "Dave Barry's Book of Bad Songs" however. Oh, it's funny, all right. I especially like how Barry can get you to pay attention to a song you've heard a million times. Like, in "Teen Angel" why did the guy have to pull his ring-loving girlfriend out of the car when they were only stalled on the railroad track? Was she so huge that she got stuck between the seat and the dashboard?

But with the exception of "Achy Breaky Heart" and Glen Campbell's odious "Dreams of the Everyday Housewife" (honored with such adjectives as "pus-oozing" "vomit-inducing" "camel-spitting" and "cow-phlegmy"), and Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton's immortal "Islands in the Stream" (which could hardly be omitted considering it starts with that line so beloved of cosmetologist stalkers: "I set out to get you with a fine-tooth comb"), there are no country songs represented.

C'mon, Dave, give C & W a closer listen. We've got plenty of pus-oozing tunes.

My other problem with this book is Dave's choice for worst song of all time - "MacArthur Park" as performed by Richard Harris. I love this song, and I get a lump in my throat every time I hear him sing about someone leaving the cake out in the rain, and how, thanks to this person's carelessness, the sweet green icing is flowing down. I even loved Donna Summer's disco remake. Surely I'm not the only person in the world who appreciates this seven-minute masterpiece.

Am I?