He Ain't Working Here No More


It's a sad day for country music. Johnny PayCheck—singer, songwriter, drinker, and convict—is dead.

PayCheck, born Donald Eugene Lytle, was best known for his hit version of David Allan Coe's "Take This Job and Shove It," one of America's great anti-authoritarian anthems. But I'm almost as fond of his equally populist anti-tax number, "Me and the IRS":

So erase my name from your records
Take me off your mailing list
You can write me off, 'cause I ain't givin'
a dime to the IRS

The IRS itself eventually sued PayCheck for $103,000 in back taxes, in what was neither the first nor the last of his brushes with the law. He had a troubled life, and a lot of his troubles were of his own making. But he also made some terrific records along the way.

NEXT: Admiral Hornblower

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  1. Six hours, no comments. That shows ya that people can’t be forcibly mourning each and every slack-jawed homocidal tax-dodgin’ hackneyed slacker-poke that comes along. We strangers have other things to be concerned with. No offense, Johnny. R.I.P.

  2. Jesse,

    I think Take this job and Shove it, while not a great song it certainly ranks up there with other guilty pleasures (ie songs that are quite musically poor but you love them any way) like Turning Japanese by the Vapors, Come on Ilene by Dexies midnight runners and slew of other eighties one hit wonders.


  3. The Johnny Rebel records were allegedly recorded by a minor rockabilly artist named Clifford “Pee Wee” Trahan. I think Coe would still have been in reform school or whatever they called it in the 1960s when those songs were recorded.

  4. Jesse, although I have to admit to quite a bit of ignorance here regarding most of his work, I think that “Take this job and shove it” is pretty good and more than just a guilty pleasure. Maybe it only seems good by comparison to most of what’s out there today – synthpop with no melody and watered down rock and roll that’s called country.

  5. Oh, man, I was really saddened to hear this news.

    The collection, “The Real Mr. Heartache: The Little Darlin’ Years,” is undeniably classic and truly essential. It’s some of the best honky-tonk ever recorded. It contains a lot of strange stuff, such as He’s in a Hurry (To Get Home to My Wife), The Cave, about a guy that is the sole survivor of a nuclear blast while he’s exploring a cave, (Like Me) You’ll Recover in Time, about a guy in a strait-jacket in a mental institution having a conversation with a hallucination of his ex-wife, and one of my all-time favorite country songs, Pardon Me (I’ve Got Someone To Kill), as well as his original version of Apartment #9.

    And look at these great song titles! (Will the) Real Mr. Heartache (“stand right up and cry”), I’m Barely Hangin’ On To Me, (It’s a Mighty Thin Line) Between Love and Hate, The Late Great Me, Motel Time Again, It Won’t Be Long (And I’ll Be Hating You), If I’m Gonna Sink (I Might as Well Go to the Bottom)…

  6. On the contrary: there are loads of musical, and not especially ideological, reasons to mourn PayCheck’s passing. A few corrections, though: While he did shoot a fellow Ohio bar patron in the head, he was not, uh, “homocidal” (no news report I know of had anything to say about his victim’s sexual preference). And wouldn’t a “slackerpoke” be someone who tried to rouse slackers out of their lethargy?
    Anyway, as to PayCheck’s music: He recorded a slew of groundbreaking singles for the indie Nashville Li’l Darlin’ label in the early 60s, collected in the highly recommended Country Music Hall of Fame anthology “The Real Mr. Heartache.” George Jones, who employed PayCheck as a bassist when he was starting out, acknowledged that he copped his hardcore honkytonk vocal stylings from him. He was also an accomplished songwriter, though is rarely credited as such. (“Take This Job,” a mediocre novelty song, was written by racist goon David Allen Coe, a much more fitting target of your half-informed scorn.) In short, next time you go grazing for cheap-shot opportunities in the libertarian blogosphere, try doing a little research first

  7. David Allan Coe is certainly a racist and arguably a goon, but “Take This Job” is great (as are “Would You Lay With Me” and “If That Ain’t Country”). I otherwise agree with you, especially regarding PayCheck’s underrated talents as a songwriter. I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t realize, until I read it in his obituary, that he’s the man who wrote one of my favorite Tammy Wynette songs, “Apartment #9.”

  8. Chris is right. But I’d like to take issue with just one thing he said.

    David Allen Coe is a racist goon? Coe himself denies this. (The racist part.) And all the evidence I’ve ever heard for this is a couple of songs from his underground albums. I’m a bit wary of saying that an artist is racist because he writes a couple of songs from the perspective of a racist.

    And in any event, one song in particular (and Coe fans know which one I’m talking about) seems to be mocking the sexual inadeqaucy and paranoia of the man singing it., not simply repeating racial stereotypes.

    But he’s right. “Take This Job and Shove It” was a low point in both men’s careers.

  9. Coe keeps disavowing those “underground” songs, Charles — and then he gets drunk and sings them again anyway. I’ll defend his use of the n-word in “If That Ain’t Country” til I’m blue in the face, but the later stuff is harder to explain away.

    Anyway. Am I really the only person who thinks “Take This Job and Shove It” is a great song? Will no one back me up here?

  10. Well, apart from the “Underground Album” (which I believe Coe still sells in MP3 form on his Web site), Coe is purportedly the artist behind the 1960s “Johnny Rebel” LP, which drips with racist venom. He denies this, and all such charges–but of course he, or at least his agent, must know that owning up to them is career suicide. I perhaps phrased my Coe aside a bit too definitively, and he is a talented songwriter. Though I do confess I got rid of all his CDs when I read some of the lyrics on The Underground Album. . . . .

  11. Coe did a near-porn album back in the 70’s that is a must have. “Fuck Anita Bryant”, “Cum Stains on My Pillow”, “The Three Biggest Lies”…


  12. how any of you can comepare david allen coe to those pop bands is beyond me, he is a very good song writer just like willie nelson who has written songs for all of the greats, and yes he was singing in the sixties he is about 60 years old plus dont you know….

  13. Did you know that Coe isn?t just a racist, but even a murderer. He nearly got the deathpenalty for that!

  14. Honestly, in my opinion, both Johnny Paycheck and David Allan Coe are underrated songwriters, lyricists, and singers, and true outlaws to boot. A good many of the so-called country music “outlaws” were goody-two-shoes pukes proclaiming to be bad asses. We have no true outlaws today that could hold a candle to Coe or Paycheck, or Waylon Jennings. These men LIVED their reputations. They sang from the heart, wrote from their feelings and experiences, and for that, I feel that we all (we referring to those who truly appreciate good music) owe these men a great deal of respect and that we also owe it to further generations to keep the music of these men alive, good, bad or downright nasty (ie. Coe’s Underground Albums [there were 2 X-rated albums for those who are unaware]) and as far as criminal conduct is concerned, what these men did is much less a concern to me compared to our current “music stars” and their pedophillic tendencies.
    PS. David Allan Coe was NOT “Johnny Rebel” one must only listen to a David Allan Coe album, then compare any song from it to any Johnny Rebel song to know that.

  15. David Allen Coe is a great and gifted songwriter and musician. SO all of you liberal handout taking demorcrats shut the hell up! so tired of your politcal correct BS. I have lived all over this country and everyone knows who the worst biggots and racist are……… people themselves…….ever listen to what they say about white people?

  16. Just because someone writes some lyrics about how they lived and what they did and how they hated. Doesn’t mean they deserve respect. Maybe yours. Not mine.

  17. No one said anyone has to agree with another man’s message, only give credit where credit is due. The fact of the matter is that the man wrote a few major hits, as well as many songs that carried heavy emotional impact, and that could truly touch a person’s soul. If you cannot see past the man’s own personal life choices, you are a blind fool, close minded, and judgemental. No one has the right to judge another. Do I condone rascism? HELL NO. I am subject to death threats from the KKK due to my Native American heritage. I am still one of the people that holds respect for Mr. Coe and I do enjoy a large portion of his music. To hold him in such ill regard, you must also be die hard against the Dixie Chicks for their slander of our president. I only hope you are, otherwise you are just another halfwitted bigot.

  18. Hey…Jones, Did you even look into the reason Coe killed that man? He killed a fellow inmate in jail because the man demanded oral sex…wouldn’t you kill the man too??? David is one of the originators along with Merle Haggard,Waylon Jennings, Johnny Paycheck,Willie Nelson and good ol’ Bocephus. So if anyone in here is gonna call them good ol’ boys s.o.b.s…’d best smile when you call them that!Coe rox!

  19. i’m not a racist, but i think “nigger fucker” is funny as hell. liberal hypocrites only criticize David Allen Coe because they are jealous of the fact that they lack the balls to sing songs like that themselves.

  20. i dont give a shit whut any bidy says about dac i thank he his the greatest cuntry music sanger of all time. he may hate blacks and he may have ben in prison but i dare any of bastards to talwk shit 2 his face. And to matt. Kiss my ass im a democrat. bush can kiss my ass 2.

  21. i dont give a shit whut any bidy says about dac i thank he his the greatest cuntry music sanger of all time. he may hate blacks and he may have ben in prison but i dare any of bastards to talwk shit 2 his face. And to matt. Kiss my ass im a democrat. bush can kiss my ass 2.

  22. johnny rebel is probably the most amazing and scary thing ive ever heard.who ever did it made something untouched in music as far as letting you see how evil people really are.long live johnny rebel,whoever the fuck yuo are, just live real far away from me!!!!!!!!

  23. If anyone wants to learn more about DAC you should by his new DVD, Life from Billy Bobs in Texas. It tell it all.

  24. The folks who hate Coe are the ones who are into all the politically correct bullshit! I admire the man, he is a great songwriter, and he never gives into the record label execs. HE DOES IT HIS WAY, and always has. He is a great songwriter. And the song nigger fucker is not bad. Hell, the niggers sing about killin white guys on rap albums all the time, so whats the big deal. I just find it hard to believe people hate Coe for being honest. if ya dont like the truth, go listen to NSYNC or some lame ass shit like that.

  25. look ya’ll coe is a man of musical genius!!! find 1 rapper that can right as good as him or put out as many albums as he has. basically i think all you democratic northerners need to get a real life and leave people alone. find something you understand to bitch and moan about cause frankly none of us want to hear it from yah!!! LONG LIVE DAVID ALLEN COE!!!

  26. i agree with c nelson if frank sanatra can do it his way and become world famousfor doing just that why are the hipocritic yankees giving david allen coe such a hard time for doing the EXACT SAME THING doing things his way, after all this is america you know land of the free home of the cubans,mexicans,africans,italians,english and everybody else oh yea and lets not forget those of us that were born here

  27. Well, I’m a Democrat, ain’t I aint no goddamned liberal, and I will say David Allen Coe kicks ass

    and Rebel can’t be Coe, listen to Coes voice and Rebels, you can change that much of a voice inflection in that short a time

    The rebel songs were done by Trahan, and it aint like ethnic humor doesn’t sell in this country

    Best way to end racism, make offensive race jokes about everybody

  28. All you hick inbred faggots need to stop bitchin’ with your mouths so full of yer daddy’s pissin’ cock. Tupac lives FOREVER!!!

  29. Coe has songs in which he says he’s got black blood in his veins and he did shows for the Black Panthers and has had black musicians in his band! He’s no racist.

  30. Right on Judd! Race don’t make yo jelly roll sweeter, if a your wallet ain’t smothered in gravy.

  31. I hear that! A man’s dog can roll over, but that don’t mean his stove ain’t smokin on Sunday!

  32. Well, I for one hate niggers. I’m proud to say it, and aint afraid of sayin it. Evidently, yall aint never had to gro up with them blue gum sumbitches. Yall act like it’s a crime to hate somebody. Hell, I’ll hate anybody I want to for whatever reason I want to. That’s my right. That don’t mean I’m gonna hurt anybody because of it. It just slap means I’m free to choose. So get over it.

  33. Well Rob ol’ David Allan Coe has said he aint a racist and he’s got black blood in his soul and he’s had black musicians in his band so ya better just stick to hangin’ with your white inbred mutant friends back behind the barn lickin the bull’s “utter” for fun and stay away from the music of a non-racist like DAC. You’re just soo cool Rob!

  34. Alls I no is i like the kontry musik. YeeeeeeHA! That david alen coe is one funny man!

  35. Me and my sister need a babysitter for the hoe down this friday. any takers?

    PS. BUSH IN 2004!

  36. “I’ve seen burning crosses. Do you know where that’s at? I aint no racist man. I aint into that.”
    “My skin is white and my eyes are blue, but there’s black blood in my soul.” – David Allan Coe

  37. Amen. As DAC said: If the proof is in the pudding then the cakes in the oven.

  38. Cake? Is it chocolate?

  39. Inbred, white trash, rednecks…

  40. Say what you want about Coe, but I like his music. As for being racist……I could care less. Niggers can say what they want in their verbal diahrea and no one bats an eye unless the offending lyrics are being sung by a whiteman. I treat people the way I would like to be treated but will never put up with anybodys shit because I’m white.

  41. David isn’t a racist. He’s had a black drummer and his songs were joke songs based on redneck stereotypes.

  42. Stupid people always express such……..STUPID comments.

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