I've got a song stuck in my head. And as the end of summer is signaled through cooler weather, the closing of swimming pools and the arrival of Labor Day, it's a fitting one.
Because it won't be long and we'll be wondering where all the fresh fruits and vegetables have gone. At that time you'll be craving a nice, homegrown tomato - so much so you might even write a song about it if Guy Clark hadn't beat you to it:
Homegrown tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes
What'd life be without homegrown tomatoes
Only two things that money can't buy
That's true love and homegrown tomatoes
What a refrain. I had never heard the song until a few nights ago when Banks & Shane played it as a filler during a show. It put a smile on my face as soon as I heard it, almost as big as the one that comes after eating one of the aforementioned treats.
Ain't nothin' in the world that I like better
Than bacon and lettuce and homegrown tomatoes
Up in the mornin' out in the garden
Get you a ripe one don't get a hard one
Plant 'em in the spring, eat 'em in the summer
All winter with out 'em's a culinary bummer
I forget all about the sweatin' and diggin'
Everytime I go out and pick me a big one
The song piqued my interested, so I had to Google it and find out more about the funny tune I can't get out of my head. Written by Guy Clark, it hit No. 42 on the country charts in 1983. You might not recognize Clark's name, but you surely know some of the songs he's famous for writing.
Like "Desperados Waiting On a Train," which was done by The Highwaymen. Or "Oklahoma Borderline," one of my favorite Vince Gill tunes. Ricky Skaggs hit No. 1 with the Clark-penned "Heartbroke," and Clark also wrote "Out in the Parkin' Lot," a duet by Brad Paisley and Alan Jackson that appears on Paisley's "Time Well Wasted" album.
Good songs all, but none that make you smile like these lyrics:
You can go out to eat and that's for sure
But it's nothin' a homegrown tomato won't cure
Put 'em in a salad, put 'em in a stew
You can make your very own tomato juice
Eat 'em with eggs, eat 'em with gravy
Eat 'em with beans, pinto or navy
Put 'em on the site, put 'em in the middle
Put a homegrown tomato on a hotcake griddle
A Texas-based musician who makes his own guitars, Clark is revered by singer-songwriters, particularly fellow Texans. I recognized his name from an album Lyle Lovett did in which he covered tunes exclusively from Texas songwriters. I liked the Clark song Lovett chose for that album, but not as well as "Homegrown Tomatoes."
If I's to change this life I lead
I'd be Johnny Tomato Seed
'Cause I know what this country needs
Homegrown tomatoes in every yard you see
When I die don't bury me
In a box in a cemetery
Out in the garden would be much better
I could be pushin' up homegrown tomatoes
So as you prepare for a bare garden and a lack of one of summer's best foods, keep this song in mind to cheer you up. You might not be able to eat homegrown tomatoes this winter, but at least you can listen to it.
E-mail Todd Cline at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Wednesdays.