Day Forty-Four: "Good Enough For Now" from Polka Party!
I’ve always been impressed by the versatility, talent and professionalism of Al and his band. Al and his musicians are proficient in seemingly every form of music, with the possible exception of Ghettotech, a musical sub-genre that, full disclosure, I know nothing about. It goes beyond that. When Al wants to, for example, do a reggae song about the seductive emptiness of American-style consumerism like “Buy Me A Condo” he doesn’t make a “Weird Al” Yankovic song with a reggae feel or a reggae vibe. No, when Al wants to do reggae, he writes a reggae song, even if it’s a complete anomaly in his oeuvre.
On a similar note, when “Lonesome” Al Yankovic decided to pull a Ray Charles/Ween/Hootie from Hootie & The Blowfish and go country he didn't write a song that sounded like a country version of a “Weird Al” Yankovic song. No, he wrote a proper country song that just happened to be funny and satirical.
And, as is generally the case, Al and his collaborators weren’t afraid to seek out ringers in the form of accomplished session musicians who’d spent their careers working in the countrified fields Al and the gang were gingerly dipping a toe in. No proper country song is complete with pedal steel guitar so “Good Enough For Now” features straight-faced pedal steel from session musician Jim Cox, and fiddle from Dennis Fetchet.
Lyrically, the song is sung from the perspective of one of Al’s signature lousy Lotharios, one of his Creepy Casanovas. But where the protagonists in “Weird Al” Yankovic songs tend to see sex and romance through the prism of their own insanity and inability to understand reality, the country crooner of “Good Enough For Now” is just kind of a jerk.
Country music is full of outsized declarations of love of dubious sincerity but the singer of “Good Enough For Now” takes great plains to establish that his love for what he deems, in a compliment so mild and backhanded it actually qualifies as something of an insult, “an above average lady" comes with an endless series of caveats and modifiers.
In his partner, the singer will concede only that he’s relatively lucky, as he probably couldn’t ask for too much more. Indeed, she’s “almost just” what he’s been looking for. When a love comes with back-to-back modifiers like that, it begins to seem not much like love at all.
Sure, the singer will offer a country-sized declaration of love like, “Oh, I couldn't live a single day without you”, but he immediately undercuts it with, "Actually, on second thought, well, I suppose I could.” Our singer is pragmatic, candid and honest to a fault. He’s never afraid to establish the limits of his affection, or the moderate nature of his romantic feelings.
Good Enough For Now” is kind of like “My Funny Valentine”, a love song that could easily pass for a sustained insult or, alternately, a sustained insult cannily masquerading as a different kind of love song. And when I mean “different” I mean “kind of insulting.” The song’s narrator can’t praise the object of his lukewarm semi-affection without also insulting her, directly or indirectly.
In that respect he’s a little like Pick-up artists who practice the deplorable act of “negging”, or insulting a woman with back-handed compliments and confusing semi-insults so that insecure women will feel the need to prove their attractiveness and desirability by sleeping with the pick-up artist. Am I suggesting that the protagonist of “Good Enough For Now” invented negging? Yes, yes I am. If you really look at the last four decades of pop culture, and also life, “Weird Al” Yankovic pretty much pioneered or invented everything.
“Good Enough For Now” is a semi-love song of intense passive-aggression, but I can say without equivocation that it is an exquisitely crafted sleeper that grows on you. It’s more than just kind of funny, or relatively clever: it’s genuinely inspired.
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