As the COVID death toll rises locally and nationally, we’re starting to see cases of celebrities being infected, and sometimes passing away. Yesterday, we lost Joe Diffie, a modern country legend from Tulsa. Growing up in the 90’s in Oklahoma, it was hard to escape Diffie’s hits, and with good reason. To this day, I unabashadly and unironically love this era of pop-country, and Joe Diffie was one of the heavy hitters.
He had so many hits that are still karaoke jams, the kind that will get the whole bar singing along with you and if you pull ’em off, the old guy sitting at the bar might buy you a round for doing one of his favorite songs. It’ll be a while until you can go out to Cookie’s and pay your respects in front of an audience, but for now you can at least play these songs on your phone and sing along anyways. For best acoustic results, get in the shower.
Prop Me Up Beside The Jukebox
It’s a little on the nose, but hell, Joe wrote his own eulogy headline and made it a massive hit. It perfectly encapsulates that particular era as a kinda jokey song but with an infectious melody, and trying to match Diffie’s pipes on the chorus is a fun challenge.
Texas Size Heartache
Time to wind things down just a bit with a classic break-up song. It’s not a huge tearjerker, the kind that makes everyone all get up at once to get a drink at the bar, but the break-up song where it’s like he’s processed everything and accepted what’s happened. Also, goddamnit this is one of the best Joe Diffie songs.
If The Devil Danced (In Empty Pockets)
I’m sure many of our readers can relate, but I just filed for unemployment for the first time, and I’ve got no safety net. This song was on the charts for like 20 weeks, so Joe’s pockets weren’t all that empty, but the sentiment is relatable, and this is probably one of his most known songs.
John Deere Green
My favorite kind of 90’s country songs are bar anthems (see ‘Prop Me Up By The Jukebox,’) but my second favorite are teenage love nostalgia, and this song does it in a simple way with a really strong, catchy hook. (Note: I couldn’t find a real karaoke version of this song, but the description on this video simply reads ‘I don’t give a fuck on how I spelt the lyrics. If you don’t like my spelling then don’t watch the video.’ which I really respect, and the guy put in pictures of tractors at the end.)
Alright, I couldn’t find a real karaoke for this song either, but ya know what you can just sing along with Joe. I know you were reading this list and thinking, ‘Well, where’s ‘Pickup Man?” and listen up motherfucker I am no fool. We save the best for last. My third favorite type of 90’s country song is truck songs, and this is the ultimate. It’s a great song on its own, and the lyrics are so self-aware and fun. I don’t even like cars at all, but this song makes me wanna get into a beat-to-shit old pickup (AMERICAN) and tailgate with my friends. I don’t even like football either but this song has the power to transform any human being into a bonafide country boy.
RIP Joe Diffie, if I survive to see another karaoke night, I’m gonna belt out one of your songs first night.