I’ve been a pretty happy guy lately all things considered. COVID has society on the brink of collapse and it seems like every month there’s a new life-threatening disaster but despite all the negativity, my outlook has remained mostly positive.
That was until Riley Green’s “I Wish Grandpas Never Died” pinned me down, stood over top of me, and took a big, watery shit directly into my ear canal.
Modern country is annoying but mostly harmless. It’s mindless but not offensive enough to hate it, that requires energy. Most of the songs blend into the background like wallpaper. OL’ DIRT ROAD LIKE MY DADDY LIGHT BEER AND SHORT JEAN SHORTS etc. What I do hate is the shameless pandering.
And that’s why “I wish grandpas never died” made me furious. Riley Green has truly written a masterpiece here. It is the pinnacle of pandering. Every second of the song is crafted to appeal to people who love confederate flags and think that drinking light beer is a personality trait.
Me Vibing to that new Riley Green
This song is like a drunk guy saying unprompted racist things to you at a bar and trying to rub your elbow going “amiright?” It’s a collection of southern buzzwords and phrases that mindless country yokels will hear and go “YEAH BUDDY”. This is Larry the Cable Guy if he was a song.
Why Put in Any Effort When Your Audience is this Dumb
In addition to the song being devoid of any charm or emotion and the lyrics sounding like they were written by a child with special needs, Riley covers every single modern country music trope including:
- “Down here we do things a little different” attitude even though his way of life is as plain and boring as possible and literally everybody from the south lives life the way he does.
- The not-so-subtle racism and pining for the “good ol’ days” presumably when black people “knew their place”.
- Believing that your desolate, small Alabama town is utopia because you’re too scared to travel anywhere else or open yourself up to new experiences.
- The wide-eyed, childlike mentality of “wouldn’t things be so great if…” even though this man is in his 30s.
The actual music is too generic to talk about, if you’ve heard one modern country ballad you’ve heard them all, so I’m going to focus the true genius of Riley Green: his songwriting.
I wish girls you love never gave back diamond rings
I wish every porch had a swing
Wish kids still learn to say “sir” and “ma’am”
How to shake a hand
I wish every state had a Birmingham
There’s a lot to unpack in that first line. Maybe his wife leaving is what broke Riley and made him regress into the scared, clueless person he is today. Or maybe she left him because he’s an idiot that kept saying inane, worthless statements.
But why does the world need more porch swings? What positive impact could that possibly have? And what if I live in an apartment, Riley? Didn’t think of that did you, asshole?
I’m pretty sure kids still say “sir” and “ma’am” and know how to shake a hand. It’s not that difficult. I’m almost positive this line stems from a time a bunch of teenagers rightly called Riley a “fucking loser” at Wal-mart and he attributed their actions to the entire youth of America as he floored his pickup back to his farm and cried.
And what would it matter if every state had a town called Birmingham? They would be the same town with a different label. And if he’s saying that Birmingham, Alabama needs to be copy/pasted all over the world that’s even dumber. He wants one of the worst cities in America to be worldwide so that he doesn’t have to challenge his ass backwards way of thinking ever again. Does he not realize that different places are what makes every town unique? I’m overthinking this, Riley Green probably knows this, he’s just telling his audience what they want to hear because they’re terrified of leaving Bumfuck, Alabama.
I wish everybody knew all the words to Mama Tried
I wish Monday mornings felt just like Friday nights
Jesus Christ Riley. Friday nights only feel like Friday nights because Mondays exist. Riley must be an alcoholic because he wants to wake up Monday and start binge drinking to start the week. I know artists try not to overthink what they’re saying but it’d be nice if this guy thought AT ALL before he said things.
And let’s assume THE ENTIRE WORLD knew the words to Mama Tried. It’s not like we’re going to sing along together every day. It would be a valueless addition to our collective society. Plus every white person knows the words to “Don’t stop believing” and the world as a whole is much worse off because of it.
And I wish even cars had truck beds
And every road was named Copperhead
If every car had a truck bed, they would be trucks. Just say you wish all cars were trucks, Riley. And again, WHY? So nobody called you anymore when they needed to move? It seems as if Riley left his hometown to travel and was terrified of all the non-white people but instead of trying to understand them it he penned a song about how great it would be if they didn’t exist and everywhere was exactly like his shitty small town.
And the worst line in this entire song, which is quite an accomplishment, is he wishes EVERY ROAD in America was named copperhead. Every single one. Do you have any idea what a logistical nightmare that would be? Navigation would be impossible. It would destroy our transportation infrastructure. All because Riley doesn’t have the mental capacity to remember more than a single road name.
And coolers never ran out of cold Bud Light
And I wish high school home teams never lost
And back road drinking kids never got caught
I wish the price of gas was low and cotton was high
This is why people outside of the south hate modern country music. Beer, high school football, drinking on back roads WE GET IT, YOU’RE PANDERING. There’s a reason people never move there, the “highlight” is the local Dairy Queen slowly giving the residents diabetes.
The price of gas is already low where you live because, again, nobody wants to be there. Every person in the world wishes things were less expensive than they are, yet he sings this line like it’s some kind of revelation.
Then he hopes high school home teams never lost and teenagers were allowed to drink and drive and kill families with their cars because in his version of Utopia everybody is a winner and teenagers have free reign to make poor decisions without consequence. I can’t put into words how annoying this is. He’s taken the whole “I’m a simple man” shtick too far and now he’s Simple Jack.
Then there’s the cotton line which is…unsurprising. It removes any ounce of subtlety and makes it abundantly clear what he’s really saying. This whole song could be boiled down to “I wish the south had won the Civil War so all those colored people wouldn’t have rights.”
I wish honkytonks didn’t have no closing time
And I wish grandpas never died
Yep, that’d be great. Billions of septuagenarians crashing their Buicks into storefronts and being openly racist. I wish Riley Green never lived.
An Ode to I Wish Grandpas Never Died
There you have it, every country music trope regurgitated right into your face without an ounce of effort by Mr. Green. If this is country music now, if this is what country music fans want, there’s no helping them. You have to lack any semblance of taste or critical thinking to enjoy this. I shouldn’t be this mad but the fact that people like it is incomprehensible to me.
If you’re new to this song, I’m deeply sorry for subjecting you to it. But if I have to suffer so do you.