Day 169: John Hiatt – Riding with the King

16 Aug

She Loves The Jerk

If you asked me, “Hey, Swole Ear,”  (because that’s my actual name) “who do you care the least about in the world?”  I would answer you with “John Hiatt.”  Really, I would.  If you followed that strange question up with “I’m sure there are plenty of other candidates worthy of that title, why John Hiatt?”  My response would be “Because of Riding with the King.”

I was going to keep that question/answer thing confined to the introduction.  I’m bored, though (because of John Hiatt), so I’ve decided to keep this train wreck rolling.  Lucky you.

Assuming you know that Riding with the King is a record of Mr. Hiatt’s, a question along the lines of “How can a single LP cause that much disdain towards its creator?” would probably follow.  To that, I’d respond with a question of my own: “Have you ever listened to this man’s work?”

Your answer must be a “No.”  Otherwise, this explanation would be completely unnecessary.

“But Swole, what is it exactly that bores you about this record?”

“Every. Freaking. Thing.”

Followed by a dramatic pause.

“I’m confined to around 250 words, though, so I’ll hit on the big issues.”  I’d let you know,  “Well, my biggest issue with Riding, and just John Hiatt in general, is that he has no idea what he wants to be.”

Your dumb ass may point out that you are kind of dumb, and that I’ll have to be more specific.

“Yeah, I figured.  Well, in this record alone, Hiatt takes stabs at every genre under the white guy sun.  Country, rock, country-rock, white man soul, and white boy blues.” I’ll say very slowly in an easy to understand, sarcasm-free tone.

But you’re still stupid.  So you’d ask “But what’s wrong with that?”

“Well, he fails at every single genre that he attempts.  He manages to turn all of them into boring, unenthusiastic, plus-or-minus three-minute romps of bleh.”  Would be my response.  “You get one more question.”

“Why on earth did your father pick this for Dad-Rock Tuesday?”

“And that, my low-IQ friend, I cannot answer.”


6 Responses to “Day 169: John Hiatt – Riding with the King”

  1. B. Frank August 16, 2011 at 5:43 pm #

    He picked it because I told him to, dammit!

  2. Yuanny Dollar August 17, 2011 at 1:02 am #

    Dear Mr. Ear: These are interesting points. I would agree with you if we were talking about John Hiatt’s more recent albums. Once he sobered up and settled down, he became insipid. From Bring the Family forward, he really has come to define middle-of-the-road family-friendly bored-housewife-approved junk. But this album, I think, is good. It is a semi-tribute to the “King” — Elvis Presley — filtered through the sensibility of the other Elvis — Costello, or as close as a blue collar Hoosier can come. He had an edge and he could write a song, but maybe you need to go back even further to Pink Bedroom, certainly a better song than Pink Cadillac. Try listening to that one.

    I think you may be having that problem that commenters have identified before. This album is about things that you haven’t experienced yet (but you will) and therefore leaves you flat. As I recall, that was the unanimous explanation for you not liking Joe Jackson. Here we go again.

  3. Yuanny Dollar August 17, 2011 at 1:09 am #

    Oh yeah. One more thing, Mr. Ear. You have once again proven that the less you like it, the better you write about it (“Poor deformed The Drums.”). This is your best, and probably longest, post ever. High-larious. You should hate albums more often. You have an ear for dialog between a punk and a dummy — write a play.

    • Dave Chops August 17, 2011 at 1:44 am #

      …plus, he might even have a point about Mr. Hiatt and his inability to stick with a style on this album. Stephen Thomas Erlewine, founder and main critic at agrees:

      John Hiatt’s sales have never quite matched his reputation. Hiatt’s songs were covered successfully by everyone from Bonnie Raitt, Ronnie Milsap, and Dr. Feelgood to Iggy Pop, Three Dog Night, and the Neville Brothers, yet it took him 13 years to reach the charts himself. Of course, it nearly took him that long to find his own style.

  4. Uncle Jiggly August 17, 2011 at 2:54 pm #

    While I’m new to the Swole Ear I’m starting to discern a trend… If a band picks a style and sticks to it they keep writing the same song. If a band (or a person in the case of Mr. Hiatt) jumps around he is called to task for not picking a style.

    Apparently you do like some bands however based on the comments of Ms. Yuanny.


  1. FIRST HALF BOTTOM 5 « Swole Ear - September 4, 2011

    […] 4. John Hiatt – Riding With the King […]

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