My favourite local music group is the Corb Lund Band. Since returning to his ‘country’ roots over a decade ago, Lund and his troupe have made several records that blur the lines between alt-country, folk, and traditional country & western music. I think he’s a natural successor in the Merle Haggard line of songwriters, but there’s a lot of other flavours in his musical chili as well.
The Corb Lund Band’s 2007 record Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier! features a song called “Hard On Equipment (Tool For The Job)”. It features lots of twangy Telecaster guitar, and this mid-tempo country rocker wouldn’t sound out of place in any Texas roadhouse on any random Saturday night.
The song is about a handyman that sounds like a decent enough guy, but he tends to destroy a lot of machinery and tools through his “innovative” work techniques. A sample lyric:
He’s been roundin’ off bolts since the age of fourteen
Was that a five-eighths or a nine-sixteenths?
He’s got a metric socket that don’t quite fit
Well it’ll wiggle just a little but it ain’t quite stripped
Well it’s vise grips for pliers, and pliers for a wrench
A wrench for a hammer, hammers everything else
It just don’t seem to make much difference
I sure do like him but he’s hard on equipment
I grew up on a small grain & cattle farm in the Red River Valley. My dad taught my brother and I everything we needed to know about using tools to work on machinery. Our farm shop featured a variety of (woefully incomplete) socket sets, several pairs of vice-grips covered in weld spatter, half a dozen hammers with dangerously loose heads, and two perpetually malfunctioning Jack-Alls. When those didn’t get the job done, we knew it was time to either go get “the maul” (an eight-pound sledgehammer) or “the bar” (a five-foot-long wrought-iron bar).
My dad mentored me on how to use a flat-bladed screwdriver as a chisel, how to cut 1″ steel plate with a disc grinder, and how to fix a cracked steel beam by welding another random chunk of steel to it. I’m convinced that Corb Lund’s handyman was my dad’s long-lost cousin.
Unfortunately, we lost our dad earlier this year after a long fight with diabetes. But whenever I miss him, I can cue up “Hard On Equipment” and it transports me back in time to the farm shop all those years ago. He always has a new lesson ready for me.