Carlene Carter's Goodnight Dallas.
There are a ton of songs about or inspired by Dallas, and they say a lot about who we are. So each week, in this space, we'll take a closer week at one of these songs — and we'll try to determine what, exactly, they say about this great city of ours.
The most successful album of Carlene Carter's career was undeniably 1990's I Fell In Love, which featured four moderate country radio hits. The daughter of June Carter and her first husband Carl Smith scored two of her biggest hits on the album, including the title track “I Fell In Love,” and its follow-up single “Come On Back.”
Although the track “Goodnight Dallas” might be considered by most to be a filler track, there's a lot that it can tell us about the way people view our city.
It should be noted, of course, that Carter was from Nashville and not Dallas — or even Texas for that matter.
The song's first stanza establishes the theme of a woman who feels she's experienced all that Dallas has to offer. She's taken in both the good and the bad and is finding that, at the moment, she couldn't be happier to be on her way out of town. Before she goes, however, she decides have one last hurrah, relenting “I'll drink your wine one last time” before saying “goodnight Dallas” once and for all.
Wine is a drink often enjoyed during occasions that mark major celebrations or changes — for instance, a wedding toast, an anniversary or job promotion, or as a way to congratulate someone on grilling the perfect steak. But one gets the feeling that, here, it's an acknowledgement that the perfect way to say goodbye to Dallas is by getting blasted, because that's what we do here all the time, right?
Despite the way we may feel about our own habits, Dallas' drinking problem may not be all that out of hand, really. A study by the website How About We found that singles in Dallas couldn't hold their liquor too well, ranking us at No. 7 among the cities with the lightest drinkers. But how accurate can a “study” conducted by a dating website be?
According to another study by Men's Health magazine on the drunkest cities in America, Dallas came in somewhat surprisingly at No. 77. Based on the criteria they took into consideration (deaths from liver disease, deaths from DUI crashes, binge drinking stats, DUI arrests, the harshness of DUI laws), Fresno, California, holds the top honors there.
To be fair, though, three other Texas cities land in Men's Health''s top 10, including Austin, Lubbock and San Antonio.
So, while Dallas might not be the drunkest city, it's still one of the biggest cities in what might be the drunkest state.
But back to Ms. Carter: After her responsible wine consumption, Carter says “So goodnight Dallas / Gonna shoot out the lights in that ole silver palace.”
Because the whole silver palace line struck as the most poignant line in the song, we decided to focus there.
The only thing Google pulled up were a few jewelry stores and a couple of Asian buffets and a strip club. Still though, the line felt deeper than just a phrase that conveniently rhymed with Dallas.
Though it may be a bit of a stretch when we re-read over the phrase a few dozen times, it didn't seem that outrageous to assume Carter might have been talking about the $30,000.00 millionaire stereotype that has become so prevalent.
The term for those people that spend more money than they make actually are first came to our attention back in 2007 when Andrea Grimes wrote a treatise on the subject in the Dallas Observer.
And it's not just a popular term/phenomenon used exclusively in town.
A year after Grimes' piece Glamour magazine did a piece on this breed of human, which called Dallas “the home of $30,000.00 millionaires.”
Other characteristics of these folks might include people who own extremely fancy clothes, who spend way too much on fancy dinners and cocktails and who maybe even drive a luxury car, all the while living in the smallest, cheapest apartment they could find — or, even worse, with their parents.
People with more reasonable spending habits often find these types fake, shallow, or, more bluntly, douchey.
Perhaps the silver palace Carter sang about referred to the shiny exterior of a seemingly expensive mansion — but one that could also be easily shot out or, metaphorically, left exposed after the curtains of the silver exterior were pulled back to show the shallowness within.
In any case, we get what Carter's saying.
Some things are best left behind. Or in the past, rather.