There’s not a man or woman alive who has heard every record ever made, and even less who have heard every great record. And it’s infuriating to think of the discs that have passed you by – wrong time, wrong place. These are, of course, the obscurities; you can be forgiven for missing out on a hit during the golden era, and there will always be numerous non-hits you’ve never heard.
I think of the relative obscurities I love and remember the friends who turned me on to them, and it was completely by chance that I discovered Bobby Pinson’s 2005 recording ‘Don’t Ask Me How I Know’ in a Nashville hotel room with CMT in heavy rotation mode. I could have been in the shower when it played, but thankfully I was not.
‘Don't ride your bike off a ramp that's more than three bricks high,
Don't take that candy from the store if you ain't got the dime,
Don't pick a fight with the little guy that doesn't talk that much
Don't pick up a cherry bomb thinkin’ its a dud… ‘
It’s a father-to-son life lesson, every line imbued with wisdom, truth and emotion… and whatever you do boy, ‘Don't sneak out of a two story house using bed sheets for a rope.’
Then, the killer title hook – ‘Don't ask me how I know’, followed by a Southern Rock-style sing-along chorus with more advice:
‘Sell your truck while its still runnin’,
Save the Jesus off the dash,
Say a prayer when you feel like cussin’,
Save your money - pay with cash…’
And the denouement, the ultimate word of advice, ‘Don't drink the water in Mexico…. don't ask me how I know.’
The lyrics to ‘Don’t Ask Me How I Know’ are reproduced above without permission, in the mild hope that they will bring some attention to this forgotten country classic, composed by Bobby Pinson, Bart Butler, and Brett Jones. The record (it says here) made #16 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, and #88 on the pop Hot Hundred, not bad.
Bobby Pinson has of course since had a solid music career in Nashville, which I’m ashamed to say I have not kept pace with, but his 2005 classic ‘Don’t Ask Me How I Know’ is a desert island disc for sure. Here it is: