Yes, it is very country. But I'm confused.
January 27, 2007 9:54 AM   Subscribe

Take this lyric and David Allen Coe it.

In David Allen Coe's song "If That Ain't Country" there's a line that goes like this:

"If that ain't country, it'll harelip the pope."

I've never heard this expression before. What is he talking about? How exactly does one harelip the pontiff? Is this a common locution? What does it mean?

Many thanks in advance.
posted by jason's_planet to Media & Arts (6 answers total)
Best answer: I've never heard the phrase, but according to a discussion on this lyric site:

Regarding the line about "that'll hairlip the Pope"...

The Pope is considered to be perfect, at least in speech. A hairlip is a physical disability that impacts one's speech. See the following:

So what are the conditions in which we know the Pope is infallible? There are two:

* He must intend to speak infallibly (this is called “from the Chair of Peter”)
* It must be pertaining to faith or morals (he can’t speak infallibly on space travel for example)

In his personal life, the Pope can and does things incorrectly - even in personal letters - so it is only in limited cases where the Pope speaks infallibly.

So, in essence this is a contradiction that would not happen, similar to the phrase, "a snowball's chance in hell"

Sounds plausible.
posted by jrossi4r at 10:08 AM on January 27, 2007

Best answer: My guess is that it's a variation on a southern saying. The Hillbilly Dictionary (unsafe link) has several versions:

"Southern Sayings:"Wayull, if that ain't enuff to harelip ol' aunt 'Zine!" - said when something outrageous happens. "

"I don't keer [care] if it hare-lips the devil, I'm going!"

Found elsewhere:

He has a face that would harelip the governor.


That'd harelip the governor!


You say it ain't country? Well, the Pope has a thing or two to say about your attitude, young man.
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:15 AM on January 27, 2007

Best answer: To "hairlip" someone or something is a southern expression meaning that someone is going to do what they set out to do, regardless of the consequences, or the disapproval of others.

"I'm gonna go to the bar tonight if it hairlips the world".

In this context, it is meant as a statement of confidence or assured correctness. Something like "If this isn't 34th street, I'll eat my hat".

My take is that the pope is supposedly a holy man ordained by God, so it is unlikely that God would allow the pope to become afflicted with a hairlip.

Put another way, think of the sentence as "This is so obviously country, that it would be more likely for the pope to become hairlipped than for this to be deemed not country.

Or something.

It's really a clumsy usage IMO.

monkeytoes: your username is oddly, and somewhat disturbingly, vivid in its imagery.
posted by Ynoxas at 1:18 PM on January 27, 2007

Response by poster: Whew! Now I can sleep at night, knowing what this bizarro lyric means.

Thank you all very much for enlightening my ignorant Yankee self.
posted by jason's_planet at 7:37 PM on January 27, 2007

"Harelip" as a verb refers to punching someone in the face and splitting their lip open, giving them a cleft lip.
posted by RussHy at 6:05 AM on January 28, 2007

Best answer: I don't think there is an answer to your question.

Assuming there is supposed to be parraell structure, then one would think it would be helpful to look at the context:

[After describing his hard life in a manner to argue he is country]

If that ain't country, I'll kiss your ass.

If that ain't country, it'll hairlip the pope.
If that ain't country, it's a damn good joke.

The "that" and "it" refers to the nature of the life he has live. And I suppose we are to take the song as him being in an argument with someone who claims he didn't live a country life as a poor boy in Ohio who grew up to be a tatoo'ed country/rock singer. (If you haven't seen David Allan Coe in recent years, he certainly doesn't seem "country" whatever that term means). Based on that, I think it is clear what the line is suppose to mean generally. But I think you ask too much of DAC if you think there is a definite meaning in the line. It is probably just a mash of some old cliche he heard and thought it would sound good.

David Allan Coe has written some really great and varied songs throughout a really long career (and he has written a whole lot of trash). He has utilized about every "sound" and "mood" out there in his songs. But a constant throughout his writing is how he peppers songs with name-dropping, place-dropping, pseduo-philosophy and literary references (see, e.g, "Invictus means Unconquered"), colloquialisms, and various other phrases that are intended to seem really meaningful when they aren't. They are just things used to advance the imagery of the song.
posted by dios at 2:53 PM on January 28, 2007

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