Joe Diffie helped set the standard for upbeat, rock-influenced country music with singles like 1994’s “Pickup Man.” The Howard Perdew and Kerry Kurt Phillips co-write’s title refers to both the driver of a pickup truck and the sort of small-town pickup artist that fended off the homecoming queen with a gear stick.
From hauling Barbie doll beds for kisses as a kid to picking up high school heartthrob Bobbie Jo Gentry for less innocent gains, Diffie’s “Pickup Man” always won over the women. He barely even tries, as his trusty ride always gets positive attention in traffic jams during the working week and at the drive-in movies on Friday nights. Throw in some comedy (the meme-friendly line “I’ve got an eight-foot bed that never has to be made” and the less celebrated “You know a cargo light gives off a romantic glow”), and you’ve got the right mix of a red-blooded American male daydream and a Roger Miller-worthy novelty hit. Its music video drove home the elements of fantasy and fun that kept the song on top of the charts for four straight weeks.
The narrator ends up sounding like the guy at work who incessantly brags about his love life. At the same time, he’s also a lot like the relative with sworn loyalty to Dodge, Ford or Chevy trucks. When it comes to their USA-made vehicle of choice, they echo Diffie’s famous proclamation: “You can set my truck on fire and roll it down a hill, and I still wouldn’t trade it for a Coupe de Ville.”
The track off Third Rock From the Sun captured Diffie’s winning humor and honky tonk attitude. It’s the best funny song by a truly versatile artist. After all, he made us all cry two years prior with “Ships That Don’t Come In.”