Tammy Faye Starlite
The Earl, Atlanta, GA • June 28, 2000
Country music and preachin’ go together like kids and chewing tobacco. But your typical C & W band or TV evangelist doesn’t usually sing about incest or date rape. That’s where Tammy Faye Starlite comes in.
Atlanta locals Truckadelic opened the evening. Fresh off a tour of the West Coast, they seemed tighter and louder than previous shows. Country/punk anthems like “My Girlfriend Ran Off with a Girl” served as spiritual foreplay for the X-rated exultation to follow.
Tammy Faye Starlite (“That’s L-I-T-E, like the adjective,” she clarifies) was as confrontational as Jello Biafra and as comical as real-life televangelists. To top it off, she was backed by a team of crack country musicians, including session players from Nashville and former associates of the Del-Lords and Mojo Nixon. Don’t listen too closely to the words, and you might find yourself tapping your boots to the twang of steel guitars.
But it’s tough to ignore her in-your-face patter between songs. Mock-evangelizing, she singles out members of the audience for potential redemption: “Do we have any Jews here tonight? We do? Don’t you know you’re going to hell?”
Describing the perils of eternal damnation, she points out that “there’s no Massengill in Hell!” That seemed to put the fear of God into a few people. One song was sung “in the key of ‘A,’ for ‘Abortion’,” and “Daddy’s Hands” (in the key of “D,” of course) was an ode to fatherly love of the worst kind.
Most of the audience seemed to take it in the spirit it was offered (dark comedy), but I caught a few horrified looks. Musician? Comedian? Performance artist? Whatever the answer, Tammy Faye might not have saved any souls, but I think she pissed a few folks off.