“You’re The Reason God Made Oklahoma” by David Frizzell and Shelly West
I remember the day my father brought home the 45 of “You’re The Reason God Made Oklahoma” for our jukebox. We had (and still have) an actual 50s-era jukebox that sat like a train car in our living room; the songs a bizarre mix of country (dad), r & b & disco (mom), and a smattering of pop and rock (my sister; me). We lived in rural Oklahoma, so for our state, the song was like an answered prayer. But, I always feared God had it out for us (Dust Bowl, colonialism, etc.). Still, I liked how the lyrics play with stereotype. It is the woman who leaves to pursue her career; the man stays in Oklahoma to tend the farm. That was almost edgy.
What I’m trying to say is this: it was the first song I remember loving both earnestly and ironically. Not unlike God & Oklahoma.
Dean Rader’s first book, Works & Days, won the 2010 T. S. Eliot Poetry Prize, and his recent collection Landscape Portrait Figure Form (Omnidawn) was a Barnes & Noble Review Best Poetry Books. He is the editor of 99 Poems for the 99 Percent: An Anthology of Poetry and the recipient of the 2015 George Bogin Award from the Poetry Society of America. Two books are forthcoming in 2017, including a book of collaborative sonnets written with Simone Muench, entitled Suture (Black Lawrence Press) and Self-Portrait as Wikipedia Entry (Copper Canyon). He is a professor at the University of San Francisco.
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