I don't like country music, but I don't mean to denigrate those who do. And for the people who like country music, denigrate means ‘put down’.As Pullum points out: "Once again, it's vocabulary size as the measure of intelligence and wisdom and culture, isn't it?" Direct vocabulary building is for SAT overachievers and such of course. It's like getting muscles in the gym: Some stuff you should come by honest (OK, -ly, if you want), through clean hard work. If you've ever taught languages, you know that vocab tests don't tell you much. A better indication of skill is creative use of language, the ability to play with it.
Country artists trade constantly on how they play with language. If you don't listen to country, or the revival of real country artistry known as "alt.country", "No Depression" and by other names, you're probably thinking of work like the Bellamy Brothers':
If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?Or maybe songs like Bobby Bare's that pun endlessly on truck, trucker, truckin', see esp. compound forms in mother. As much as I love those classics, the new guys are cold brilliant.
I thought about this topic while listening to David Ball's "Loser Friendly", from his album Amigo (he got known first as part of Uncle Walt's Band, I think.) It's set in a bar, like the Derailers' brilliant "(I'm) Takin' a bar exam" and a million other songs. The pun on user friendly is easy enough that the phrase is certainly part of general usage now (it has an Urban Dictionary entry). But, man, does he work that little pun hard for a few verses — sadly, the lyrics aren't on-line and I haven't transcribed them. But I can smell stale beer.
Then, minutes after hearing Ball, Banjo & Sullivan came on. They are masters of this art, like the particular song:
"I'm At Home Getting Hammered (While She's Out Getting Nailed)"See here for the full lyrics.
What does it take for poetic genius to be recognized?