People cope with stress and losses in many different ways. Whether it is taking a nice drive down some old back road, or sitting on a couch and binge watching Netflix, we all have something that takes our mind off of things. The male talent that makes up country music is not shy about telling us how they cope with the loss of their women. There is one thing they all do after discovering their woman is gone for good, DRINK LOTS OF WHISKEY. Why is it always whiskey they are drinking? This question can be answered in several different ways. As this article will explain, sometimes it’s because whiskey is the only thing strong enough to cure the pain. It can also help build the image of being a man’s man along with many other things.
This is not a stereotype; men are commonly found drinking after a bad break up. Clint Carter sums it up pretty well in his article 12 Things Men Really Do to Get Over a Breakup, by saying men usually drink after a breakup because they want to talk about it but need the alcohol “to lubricate the process”. Contrary to what women believe, men have feelings to and need to talk about them every once and a while, we just need to get drunk to do it. Women often think after a break up men are fine and just go find other women. Surprisingly, men might actually take break ups worse than women. Elizabeth McClintock can be quoted as saying, “Men may be more emotionally dependent on their romantic partners and have fewer alternative sources of support. When asked who they would turn to first if they were feeling depressed, 71% of men selected their wife whereas only 39% of women selected their husband”. As these songs will illustrate, men do not take break ups well, we just handle our losses in a different way than women.
- “Whiskey” (2000) by Pat Green
This song describes a man who is distraught, as well as confused. He is not sure as to why his woman has left him; all that he knows is that she is gone. He describes his feelings as, “ Yeah tonight you know this whole damn town is empty, and I don’t think I can take it anymore. So I’ll sit here with my whiskey, and drink it till I just can’t drink no more”.
It seems as if the thought of why she left is running through his head, but he cannot answer this. There is no one in town he can talk to about it, so he is left to handle his emotions by drinking whiskey. It is clear that the man is left at home mourning his loss, while to woman is out on the east coast enjoying life. This furthers the argument men are more attached to the relationship than women. At the end of the song the man gets a call that she is coming home so he is able to stop drinking.
The man chooses to drink whiskey during this time because it is the only thing strong enough to cure his pain. He does not know why his woman left him, and if he drinks enough whiskey he can forget about it. This song is unlike the others listed because the man’s mother is involved. His mother wants to know what he did to loose this great girl, but he has no interest in talking to her.
- “Jack Daniels, If You Please” (1978) by David Allan Coe
In this song we hear a man direct his speech towards Jack Daniels the whiskey, personifying the whiskey he loves to drink. He asks Jack Daniels to get him so drunk he cannot stand. That way he does not have to think about losing his lady to a one night stand.
He says when she left she broke promises and left their dreams to die, something he cannot understand. He believes if he drinks enough whiskey he may understand why women do these things. The man states Jack Daniels is the only friend that he has and that Jack Daniels has never led him astray. This goes to show men do not have many alternatives to replacing their partner when it comes to talking about emotions. This man feels as if he has no one to share his emotions with, so he leaves it to drinking whiskey.
David Allan Coe chose to incorporate Jack Daniels into this song to help build an image for the man. Jack Daniels is more expensive than many other brands of whiskey, this gives the man an image of being high class. He can afford Jack Daniels, so he must have done something right. This song is unique because the man talks to Jack Daniel’s as if he were a friend. Other “whiskey” songs just identify whiskey as a drink rather than a close friend.
- “Ain’t Worth the Whiskey” (2014) by Cole Swindell
In this song the man almost comes off as sarcastic. He starts off the song by singing; “I don’t care that you done me wrong ‘cause I’ve already moved on. I don’t care what his name is, girl it is what it is”. The song is sung in a serious tone as if to show he actually does care, he just doesn’t want her or others to notice.
He says he doesn’t care if her friends tell her he was drinking to cure his broken heart, because he wouldn’t do that because “you ain’t worth the whiskey”. He then lists reasons he may be seen out at the bar drinking. These include drinking to a good country song, drinking to celebrate the weekend or seeing an old friend. These all seem to be reasons he lists to cover up the fact that he is actually drinking to cure his broken heart. Author Sarah Bennett compares sharing feeling with farting. It feels good to let out, but once it is out you regret it because you have “poisoned the room”. The man in this song is similar to many men out there. He has emotions that he doesn’t want to “poison” others with, and is embarrassed to let out. He thinks why not just mask my emotions as other things where others don’t have to mess with it.
Cole Swindell refers to whiskey in this song because it is known to be more intoxicating than other drinks containing alcohol. Men drink whiskey on special occasions, when they really want to have a good time. In this song he wants to act like he is having a great time, and whiskey does that for him. This song stands out from others because the man is trying to cover up the pain he is going through, rather than admitting he is going through tough times.
- “Whiskey River” (1973) by Willie Nelson
This song depicts a man who has recently lost a woman and is hoping his whiskey flows endlessly. He says whiskey is the only thing that helps him escape the torturing thought of his lost woman. He only wants whiskey running through his mind for that reason, and the whiskey also helps warm his heart that she made so cold by leaving him. This stands as a great example to show that women are the ones who are usually leaving men, not the other way around. In Brittany Wong’s Huffington Post article she relays this research by saying, “Women are more likely than men to utter the words I want a divorce”. Women are more likely than men to be dissatisfied with their marriage, which means it is the man that is left behind still emotionally attached the majority of the time. This being the case, men are the ones who have to cope with the emotions of a break up more often, because they did not initiate the break up.
Whiskey serves as a medicine in this song. It is the only alcohol that can cure all the pain this woman has created, and beer is not strong enough to serve as a “medicine”. “Whiskey River” is one of a kind for this reason; its not very often you hear a man using whiskey as a substitute for medicine.
- “Wasting No More Whiskey” (2014) by Mike Ryan
In this song we hear about a man who has been drinking whiskey to forget about a girl for too long. He is finally over it, and states he will no longer waste whiskey on the thought of her. At the first of the song he takes us through the life of a bottle of whiskey. It starts out clear in Lynchburg until it is aged for seven years. It is then poured into a bottle, placed in a truck and taken to a store shelf where it will be sold. He buys a bottle, but this time he is not drinking to take the thought of her away. This time he may instead drink it with friends or his father, or maybe even bring it to a college football game to drink.
This song shows that it takes a while for a man to get over a woman. He has been drinking the thought of her away for so long now that he is finally tired of it. It has taken him a lot of whiskey to get over her, now he is ready to drink to something else.
Whiskey is used in this song because it is something that there is a limited supply of. Whiskey takes a long time to “come to life”, and it takes a long process to get to where it’s going. He wants to show if he takes time to get something, he is not wasting it on her. This song stands out because we as the listeners are able to identify with the whiskey itself. After we realize how much effort goes into one bottle, the listener understands why people value it so much.
As all these brave male country artists have admitted, break ups are hard on men to, if not harder. Men often mask their emotions, but deep down under men feel a connection to lost relationships just as women do. Men don’t go out drinking whiskey for fun after a break up, they go out drinking because that’s their way of coping with the pain. Men are often uncomfortable speaking about their emotions, so they get drunk so they can think things over and talk about things. Men don’t want you to know they are emotional, and will often deny it. They often don’t understand how women work, and believe whiskey can give them some insight. So next time you see a newly single man at the bar throwing back his favorite whiskey, don’t think he is having fun and moved on, he is just coping.