It goes without saying that beer and rockabilly have a symbiotic relationship. No self respecting greaser has an aversion to beer. While it is true that beer is that universal social lubricant enjoyed by many people like bikers, sports fanatics, metal bands, punk rockers and even , astoundingly enough, filthy hippies who use it to get the nasty taste of pot out their rotten teeth laden mouths, it holds a special place in rockabilly culture.
There was a time when Jack Daniels was the de rigeur rot-gut of choice for greasers. I can speak from personal experience when I say that you can only drink that brain cell corroding swill for only so long. In my youth, when I was getting my first rockabilly band started, we thought that having a bottle of Jack on stage would be cool, greasy and slightly Straycats-esque. The image was greasy enough, but the ensuing inebriation on stage became a liability. The resulting inability to make proper chord changes, forgotten lyrics, threats to audience members and the on-mike admonitions that you were gonna pound the guitar player became hard to keep in check. Rock n roll as the Bourbon induced antics might have been, it stopped being amusing; particularly at 3 am when all the gear had to be hauled up several flights of stairs.
That was the cue to switch back to beer. The Jack Daniels bottle was still used as prop, but it was filled with tea. The on stage beer was cleverly hidden behind the amp, and bar owners were far more willing to part with some free beers rather than hard liquor, most likely due to the bigger profit margins on beer.
Many people look down their noses at beer, dismissing it as a common man's swill. These BMW driving idiots are seemingly unaware of the rich European history of beer, which makes it that much more ironic, considering the German beer purity laws of the 1500's. There are squares out there who have somehow made a lot of money and decided to declare themselves to be oenophiles. My disdain for wine and all the pretentious rituals that it entails would be a lot of raving destined for another day. Same goes for Whiskey snobs who indulge in 25 dollar shots . Booze is booze, and those condescending snobs will be just as hammered as the blue collar guys slamming Molson Canadian down at the pub after work; they just will have spent way more money
As fundamental as beer swilling may be, there are a few basics that need to be followed. I offer some advice to veteran and novice beer drinkers alike.
1. Never Run Out.
While my friends in New York City have access to beer 24 hours a day, we in Canada, with all our thinly veiled socialist values, have to go through many hardships to acquire beer, along with excessive taxes that are imposed upon it. Going to the USA on a beer pilgrimage is of no use as those Neanderthal quasi-cops at Canada border Services will only let you bring 24 beers across the border. (note to American friends: 24 beers are known as a two- four or a flat) .
One is forced to go to the government booze store, where you stand in line to sell your empties, but are limited to 24 empties. You are then forced to stand in another line as they gleefully take your hard earned cash where you are subsequently forced to endure the indignation of drinking warm beer.
Be that as is may, your only other alternative is to go to a private beer store where the cold beers are exorbitantly priced and you may be arbitrarily cut off. I almost pounded some white trash sum' bitch beer store employee, but that is a long story.
Should you have a room mate, the tacit beer rule should apply; never drink your room mate's last beer. After a night of drinking and rockin' and a rollin', there is no feeling quite as evil as getting home anticipating a night cap, only to find out that the fridge is completely devoid of beers. Attempting to do beer math when you are hammered is futile, but drunk as you are, you are convinced that there was beer in there. This is the catalyst of legendary fist fights.
Everyone enjoys a good house party. What a perfect excuse to trash somebody else's house and not have to worry about industrial strength clean up the next day. I have, in the past had monster house parties, replete with bands, crazed greasers, bagpipe players and a cash bar. The small profit from beer sales hardly seemed worth it and the Herculean task of selling the empties was a hollow victory.
Now is the time to attend other folks' parties. The rules are pretty simple; bring what you're gonna drink, and maybe a little extra. The extra will be useful, if you happen to be so inclined to have a few extra beers as you somehow stagger home and stop on a bus stop bench muttering to yourself under your breath.
At the actual party, you may be surprised, and even appalled, to find out that some folks came woefully unprepared. The non-greasy folk in attendance seemed to have shown up sans beer. As much as an affront to greasy sensibilities as this may seem, it is an all too common reality.
There are a few defenses to this direct onslaught on your beer cache. I remember a party where a greasy buddy of mine and I had to physically defend our beer cooler as we fought off an assault of mooching hippies who had neglected to bring their own booze. We literally had to put our boot-clad feet on the cooler and threaten them with violence should they even attempt to purloin our beer. Why a couple of greasers were attending a party teeming with hippies is another story.
To combat beer invaders there are a few steps that can be taken. You can leave your beers in a back pack in some discrete location. You can stash a few in the toilet tank. Very few people would think to look there, and the fact that the toilet won't flush properly will be lost on most people. Back in the bad old days, when you could drink 15 beers and drive a piece of shit Chrysler Newport 80 miles an hour on your way home, you could store all your beers in the trunk of your car.
Nowadays, we have to rely on a cab or a bus, so there is no safe beer storage. One thing you can do to protect your precious beer allotment, is to take a sharpie and write your initials on the bottom of each can. The offending beer thief would unsuspectingly steal your beer out of the fridge. As he would hoist the beer, your initials would be revealed and you would be entitled to yell. " Hey , you sum bitch, that's my beer!" Hopefully that person would be embarrassed and leave, give you money, or endure a punch in the face.
3. The Can.
Graphic as this may seem, if you are a beer drinker, an inevitable case of the green apple two-step will eventually strike. Always make sure that you are within close proximity of a toilet bowl or a gas station. Beer will also guarantee emanation of toxic methane fumes, and should you let one rip at a bar, always blame it on someone drunker than you who happens to be in close proximity. Be prepared and always search out well ventilated areas and avoid open flames. An ample supply of clean shorts should always be on hand.
If you indulge in prodigious quantities of beer, you will eventually end up walking funny. You should practice drunk-walks as you will at one time or another, be doing the heel-to-toe walk, the twenty beer tango or the sideways shrub encounter. Wear slip-resistant footwear, leather for for sliding on pavement and acquaint yourself with the name of the doctor at your local emergency room.
5.Guitars, Cadillacs and Twenty Beers.
If you happen to be a musician, it is probably wise to avoid getting too hammered before your gig. Your fingers will mysteriously begin to play non-existent chords and you will forget lyrics. The nice thing about rockabilly, is that, even if you forget the second verse, you can repeat he first and no one will notice. If you are shithouse plastered, no amount of repetition can mask a bunch of incoherent mumbling. The best thing to do in the case of excessive beer intake, is to rehearse a couple of drunk songs. Songs that you can nail completely shitfaced. You can go to a local jam, sing Folsom Prison Blues flawlessly, and receive a few free beers in the process, with nobody being the wiser.
There you have it, friends , a few observations on beer. As my old friend Ray Condo was fond of saying; If you drink don't drink, and if you drive don't drive.