Music

The Story Behind David Allan Coe's 'You Never Even Called Me by My Name' [WATCH]

Mark Tucker

If you can believe it, true country outlaw David Allan Coe's edgy sound struggled to earn respect and airplay within the industry during the '70s.

His now-infamous track, "You Never Even Called Me By My Name," earned him the first Top 10 hit from his album, Once Upon a Rhyme, and helped him break through as a solo artist.

The self-described "perfect country and western song" was written by Steve Goodman and John Prine. It was penned as a lyrical middle finger to the music industry in Nashville, Tenn. at the time. When Goodman gave Coe the track, Coe said there was no way it would be a successful country song without any references to "mama, or trains, or trucks, or prison, or getting drunk." Goodman countered by adding the final spoken verse that humorously adds in those cliches.

In the song's second verse, Coe lists off and does some cheeky impressions of Waylon Jennings, Charley Pride, and Merle Haggard, who were some of the genre's biggest stars at the time. Even though the track was written about the initial introduction of pop music into the country genre, it's a song many traditionalists have found themselves coming back to in recent years. Now, with country music splitting between pop and Americana, Coe's anthemic single is worth revisiting.

In the video below, you can watch a rare performance of David Allan Coe singing "You Never Even Called Me By My Name" in 1975.

"You Never Even Called Me By My Name" Lyrics

Well, it was all
That I could do to keep from crying'
Sometimes it seemed so useless to remain
But you don't have to call me darlin', darlin'
You never even called me by my name
You don't have to call me Waylon Jennings
And you don't have to call me Charlie Pride
And you don't have to call me Merle Haggard anymore
Even though you're on my fighting' side
And I'll hang around as long as you will let me
And I never minded standing' in the rain
But you don't have to call me darlin', darlin'
You never even called me by my name
Well, I've heard my name
A few times in your phone book (hello, hello)
And I've seen it on signs where I've played
But the only time I know
I'll hear "David Allan Coe"
Is when Jesus has his final judgment day
So I'll hang around as long as you will let me
And I never minded standing' in the rain
But you don't have to call me darlin', darlin'
You never even called me by my name
Well, a friend of mine named Steve Goodman wrote that song
And he told me it was the perfect country & western song
I wrote him back a letter and I told him it was not the perfect country & western song
Because he hadn't said anything at all about mama
Or trains, or trucks, or prison, or getting' drunk
Well, he sat down and wrote another verse to the song and he sent it to me
And after reading it I realized that my friend had written the perfect country & western song
And I felt obliged to include it on this album
The last verse goes like this here
Well, I was drunk the day my mom got out of prison
And I went to pick her up in the rain
But before I could get to the station in my pickup truck
She got run over by a damned old train
And I'll hang around as long as you will let me
And I never minded standing' in the rain, no
But you don't have to call me darlin', darlin'
You never even called me
Well, I wonder why you don't call me
Why don't you ever call me by my name
This post was originally published on September 16, 2015. 

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The Story Behind David Allan Coe's 'You Never Even Called Me by My Name' [WATCH]