Song Lyric Sunday – Party

This week’s Song Lyric Sunday gives us the prompts of “Carnival, Festival, Gala, Jamboree, Party”. It may come as no surprise that many of my emo-lyrical songs contain none of the above. Songs from my childhood pop into mind, but I suspect they will be used by others. So I dug deep and found in my playlist Choctaw Bingo by James McMurtry.

James McMurtry is an American rock, folk rock/americana singer, songwriter, guitarist, and occasionally, an actor.

In 1987, a friend suggested James enter a folk festival songwriter contest. He was one of six winners that year. Around the same time, John Mellencamp was starring in a film based on a script by James’ father (a novelist), which gave him the opportunity to send a demo tape to John Mellencamp. In 1989, Mellencamp served as co-producer on James’ debut album, Too Long in the Wasteland.

In 2002, James released St. Mary of the Woods which contained Choctaw Bingo, one of James’ most popular songs. This song is also featured on James’ release Live in Aught Three.

The lyrics to this song tell a story. A story narrated to another person about going to a family reunion. Simple and self-explanatory but with very interesting characters. You have Uncle Slayton, around whom the entire song revolves. Although old, he is rather “spry”. He is a gruff and shady character who makes money through unethical and illegal means – such as cooking methamphetamine and making moonshine. Among other seedy characteristics, Uncle Slayton plays Choctaw Bingo every Friday night.

Next you have Cousin Roscoe, Uncle Slayton’s oldest son from his second marriage. He was raised in East St. Louis by his “momma’s people”, which could elude to his ethnicity being African-american as that is the ethnic majority in East St. Louis. Roscoe has planning on coming to this reunion, but ends up in an accident. Does he attend? That is not clear.

Bob and Mae, whose relationship is not clear in the family are traveling to the reunion and on their way stop to load up on ammunition and guns in Oklahoma – including a Desert Eagle. (Aside: my SOMH would like one of those and as he is the only “big and burly” member of the family, he is like the only one a .50 cal won’t knock on their ass.)

Finally, you have Ruth-Anne and Lynn, who are the sisters and 2nd cousins to the storyteller. They live in Kansas, hailing from Baxter Springs (identified as one hell-raisin’town in the lyrics). Apparently the storyteller is attracted to his cousins. The lyrics imply that this attraction is not permitted, but I didn’t think 2nd cousins would be considered incestuous.

As for the title, Choctaw Bingo, according to Urban dictionary, refers to high stakes bingo.

This is a bit different than my usual picks, but I do like it and find myself toe-tapping to it whenever it comes up on my playlists.


Strap them kids in, give ’em a lil bit of vodka
In a cherry Coke, we’re goin to Oklahoma
To the family reunion for the first time in years
It’s up at uncle Slaton’s ’cause he’s getting on in years
You know he no longer travels but he’s still pretty spry
He’s not much on talk and he’s just too mean to die
And they’ll be comin’ down from Kansas and West Arkansas
It’ll be one great big old party like you’ve never saw

Uncle Slaton’s got his Texan pride
Back in the thickets with his Asian bride
He’s got an airstream trailer and a Holstein cow
Still makes whiskey, ’cause he still knows how
He plays that Choctaw Bingo every Friday night
You know he had to leave Texas but he won’t say why
He owns a quarter section up by Lake Eufaula
Caught a great big ol’ Bluecat on a driftin’ jugline
Sells his hardwood timber to the chippin’ mill
Cooks that crystal meth because his shine don’t sell
He cooks that crystal meth because his ‘shine don’t sell
You know he likes that money, he don’t mind the smell

My cousin Roscoe, Slaton’s oldest boy
From his second marriage up in Illinois
He’s raised in east St. Louis by his mamma’s people
Where they do things different, thought he’d just come on down
He’s goin’ to Dallas, Texas in a semi truck
Caught from that big McDonald’s
You know that one that’s built up on that
Great big old bridge across the Will Rogers turnpike
Took the big cabin exit, stopped and bought a carton of cigarettes
At that Indian smoke shop with the big neon smoke rings
In the Cherokee nation, hit Muskogee late that night
Somebody ran the stoplight at the Shawnee Bypass
Roscoe tried to miss ’em but he didn’t quite

Bob and Mae come up from
Some little town way down by
Lake Texoma, where he coaches football
They were two-A champions for two years running
But he says they won’t be this year
No, they won’t be this year
And he stopped off in Tushka at the pop knife and gun place
Bought a SKS rifle and a couple full cases of that steel core ammo
With the Berdan primers from some East bloc nation
That no longer needs ’em
And a Desert Eagle, that’s one great big old pistol
I mean, fifty caliber made by bad-ass Hebrews
And some surplus tracers for that old BAR
Of Slaton’s as soon as it gets dark, we’re gonna have us a time
We’re gonna have us a time

Ruth-Anne and Lynn come from Baxter Springs
That’s one hell-raisin’ town
Way up in Southeastern Kansas
Got a biker bar next to the lingerie store
That’s got the Rollin’ Stones’ lips
Up there in bright pink neon
And they’re right downtown where everyone can see ’em
And they burn all night
You know they burn all night
You know they burn all night

Ruth-Anne and Lynn, they wear them cut-off britches
And then skinny little halters and they’re second cousins to me
Man, I dont care, I want to get between them
With a great big ‘ol hard-on
Like an ol’ Bodark fencepost
That you can hang a pipe rail gate from
Do some sister twisters till the cows come home
And we’ll be having us a time

Uncle Slaton’s got his Texan pride
Back in the thickets with his Asian bride
He’s cut that corner pasture into acre lots
He sells ’em owner financed strictly to them
It’s got no kind of credit ’cause he knows they’re slackers
And they’ll miss that payment and then he takes it back
He plays that Choctaw Bingo every Friday night
And drinks his Johnny Walker at that club 69

We’re gonna strap them kids in, and give ’em a lil’ bitty bit
In a cherry Coke, we’re goin to Oklahoma
Gonna have us a time
Gonna have us a time

Published by SadiRose

Blogging gets the noise in my head out...at least for a little while. I use blogging to weed through all that noise and find the humor in each situation, even if it takes some time to find it. I am not selling anything, just sharing experiences as a mother, Amma, wife, paralegal, volunteer, Muslimah, sister, daughter, mother-in-law, woman.

4 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday – Party

  1. In the United States, second cousins are legally allowed to marry in every state. The Choctaw Nation is an American Indian territory and the bingo games that are played there are not subject to most state laws. This story is very complex, but I do like the song SadiRose. People in Texas seem like they come from a different country. Thanks for sharing this today.

    Liked by 1 person

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