My taste in music is this strange amalgam of pop and country – primarily pop, but I just can’t resist a good country song. The cheesier the better! For a while in the 90s, when pop really seemed to be on the wane, I took refuge in country music because so much of it had the slick, modern production that characterized so much of the pop that I was missing. It was during this time that I discovered Wynonna Judd, Reba McEntire and Pam Tillis. Of course, Dolly was omnipresent as well. This was also when Garth Brooks ruled the scene with his odd breed of crossover country that sounded perfectly at home at the bar played next to non-country artists. I maintain that the reason I don’t like “Friends In Low Places” all that much is because I associate it too much with a bunch of drunken frat boys singing it off key at the bar on Cup Night.
Clay Walker is cut from the same cloth as Brooks, although probably with less pop sensibility. Even the cover of his debut album looks like it could have been a discarded concept for a Garth Brooks album cover. Given the fact that I was never crazy about Garth Brooks in the first place and that I am – fair or not – biased against male artists, it’s not a surprise that I didn’t know anything about Clay Walker when I met Heidi. She had the cassette tape of Walker’s debut album in her car at the time and I immediately took to “White Palace.”
As cheesy country songs go, you don’t get much cheesier than “White Palace.” The song is all about Walker’s infatuation with a waitress at the local burger joint. You need look no further than the chorus to find the irrefutable evidence.
The tag on her shirt says “Hello, my name is Alice”
And I’ll be doggone if she ain’t the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen in Dallas
Her blue eyes they shine brighter than the Aurora Borealis
Lord she looks like a queen workin’ in that white palace
Any song that can not only use the words “Aurora Borealis” but use them in a rhyme is A-OK in my book. Yes, the song is beyond cheesy. It reeks 90s country. But that’s part of its charm. And it doesn’t stop there.
When she works the drive-thru window I burn up a tank of gas
I get one thing at a time, so I can make another pass
Well I bet I’m the only one who ever gives her a tip
’Cause I love to hear “thank you” comin’ from those sweet red lips
Someday I’ll get the nerve and ask her for a date
And we’ll drive out to Fort Worth and I’ll buy her a T-bone steak
I can’t tell you how many times we joked about the Fort Worth and T-bone steak line. And whenever I think about “White Palace”, I’ll think of riding with Heidi in her big yellow Buick we nicknamed “The Banana.” Even at 23, I still didn’t own my own car. Carless, and she married me anyway – although by the time we got married I had acquired my own vehicle.