The fact that everybody likes guns but they just don’t know it is also true of country music. C’mon, admit it, deep inside your soul there’s a cowboy trying to get out.
Steve Lee’s second solo album, Everybody Likes Guns, is a country-based celebration of firearms that’s hard to resist despite its niche-within-a-niche nature. The tunes are catchy, the variety entertaining and the lyrics good, giving it the kind of appeal that gets most people tapping their toes.
After shooting to fame with I Like Guns, Steve took on the new project with a will and a focus that he didn’t have the first time around. He says I Like Guns was built around the song of the same name, while Everybody Likes Guns was conceived as a more complete album – full of songs aimed at everyone who likes guns. It’s a confident, crafted effort, and lots of fun.
The first time I heard Everybody Likes Guns, Steve was sitting in the passenger seat as we drove out to his paintball field outside Parkes, NSW, and he laughed and joked as he gave a running commentary on each song. He talked about where they came from, why he’d written them, which ones he liked most, and one thing that struck me is that the songs are all so honest that you don’t really need him to add anything at all.
He launches into the album with attitude, the first song being angry and aggressive. ‘Who Gave You the Right?’ is a straight-up attack on the government and its anti-gun bias, but the next song, ‘Pistols and Rifles’, has a mellow mood to settle you down before the album’s up-beat title song kicks in.
The pace switches through the album, from fun stuff like ‘Gonna Buy Me a Gun’ and ‘Huntin’ Fool’ to the irony of ‘Lucky Country’.
‘Lucky Country’ is “more of a song about lost freedoms,” Steve says. The lyrics tell us we’re lucky if we get to keep our guns, lucky if we get to keep our driving licences (as if to prove his point, Steve has lost his licence) and lucky if our vote makes a difference.
“It’s called ‘Lucky Country’ but it’s sort of like the opposite of lucky; we’re lucky if we can do anything,” Steve says. “I think that’s a really strong song.”
Renowned hunting guide Clark McGhie wrote a poem that became ‘Who Gave You the Right?’.
“I read it and it just blew my mind,” Steve says. “It was really well written. So the majority of that song really is Clark’s poem. It’s basically a song about saying to the government, who gives you this right to take our guns, and it just goes through the common reasons of how it doesn’t make any sense. It’s pretty close to my heart.
“On the more humorous side of things, there’s a couple of songs on there that are quite funny,” he says. “There’s one called ‘Gonna Buy Me A Gun’. The song starts off, ‘I’m gunna buy me a gun, the bigger the better, my wife said no, that’s why I left her’. I’ve seen Americans who are so passionate about that, y’know? The guns are more important than anything. It’s a bit of a tongue-in-cheek song and I sing it with a really strong American accent, deliberately, because it’s really designed around these redneck American gun lovers. And I love it, and I love them, so that’s a pretty cool song.”
He also likes ‘I’ve Shot Every Gun’, which he cheerfully says is “definitely a steal” of Hank Snow’s famous ‘I’ve Been Everywhere’.
There are 12 tracks on the album, all of them good – even the one Steve reckons he’s not so keen on, ‘Huntin’ Fool’, which I can’t help liking because it’s up-beat in a country pop kinda way (gotta love the fiddle in this one) and I can relate to anyone who’s an outdoor junkie and hunting’ fool.
Everybody Likes Guns is underlined by the hand of producer Bill Chambers, arguably the best man in the country for the job. Bill also performed for some of the album, as did most of Steve’s talented family and a handful of others.
It’s an album you should have in your collection, especially if you like both guns and country. Or even if you think you don’t.
Where d’ya geddit?