My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Album Review: Joe Diffie – ‘Life’s So Funny’

The cracks in Joe Diffie’s creative armor began to show with 1994’s Third Rock From The Sun. Sadly, the downward spiral continued with the next year’s follow-up Life’s So Funny, which at best is a mediocre album of substandard material unworthy of Diffie’s considerable talent.

Though it contains no overtly silly novelty tunes like its predecessor, Life’s So Funny is a decided shift away from the traditional material Diffie had released on his first couple of albums. By 1995, the new traditionalist movement had run its course, and Diffie and co-producer Johnny Slate appear to have been trying to curry favor with country radio by modifying his sound. The fact that the album produced only one major hit stands as testament to the fact that despite moving in the wrong direction, country radio in the mid-90s was still considerably better than it is today.

The first single released from the album was “Bigger Than The Beatles”, a decent but not great tune which name-checks not only the Fab Four but also the Rolling Stones and the Eagles, in what appears to have been an attempt to reach out to the newer fans that were migrating towards country music at the time. The inclusion of a couple of annoying line-dance numbers likewise seems like an effort to those who came to country by way of the dance clubs. “Bigger Than The Beatles” became Diffie’s fifth and final #1 hit. The album’s subsequent singles didn’t fare as well. The beat-driven dance tune “C-O-U-N-T-R-Y” stalled at #23, as did “Whole Lotta Gone”. The other line dance number, “Down In A Ditch” mercifully failed to chart.

Among the album cuts there are some decent ballads that play to Diffie’s strengths, but none of them is of the same caliber as earlier hits like “Home”, “Is It Cold In Here” or “Ships That Don’t Come In”, nor is any of them enough to save this train wreck of an album. “Never Mine To Lose” is the best of the bunch and would have been a better choice for a single than any of the tunes that were actually sent to radio following “Bigger Than The Beatles”. “Tears In The Rain”, the only song in this collection on which Joe shares a songwriting credit, is also a worthy effort, as is the title track which closes the album. The pop-tinged and slightly overblown “Willing To Try”, on the other hand, misses the mark and “Back To The Cave”, another dance tune, demonstrates that even great songwriters like Skip Ewing occasionally produce a dud.

Though it did not sell as well as Third Rock From The Sun, Life’s So Funny managed to earn gold certification, the last Joe Diffie album to do so.

Grade: C-

It is still widely available from vendors such as Amazon and iTunes, but it is really not worth pursuing, except for die-hard fans.

5 responses to “Album Review: Joe Diffie – ‘Life’s So Funny’

  1. Occasional Hope August 16, 2010 at 8:48 am

    This is definitely Joe’s least inspired work.

  2. Paul W Dennis August 16, 2010 at 9:09 am

    “Bigger Than The Beatles” was an okay song, an easy B+, but the video that went with the song was outstanding and probably helped propel the single toward the top.

    I saw Diffie in concert earlier this year – in live performance he mostly stays away from the novelties. He still sounds great

  3. J.R. Journey August 16, 2010 at 9:17 am

    ‘Whole Lotta Gone’ is one of my favorites from Joe, and I do like ‘Bigger Than The Beatles’ too – it reminds me a lot of ‘John Deere Green’ with its imagery and focused subject matter.

    Not a great album as a whole, just a handful of good songs, so a C is very apt here.

  4. Michael A. August 16, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    I also enjoyed “Whole Lotta Gone” and “Bigger Than the Beatles”, though the former is pretty much all but forgotten today. Nothing else on this album did it for me, though.

  5. Leeann Ward August 18, 2010 at 11:53 am

    Again, I like the novelty songs, because I like “Down in a Ditch” and “Bigger than the Beatles.” I like “Whole Lotta Gone” too. I don’t like anything else on the album though.

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