Let's Mock Billy Ray Cyrus' Collaboration With HomeTown Buffet
By David Thorpe
Shut up, everybody, because I have HUGE news: Billy Ray Cyrus is teaming up with HomeTown Buffet!
Buffets, Inc.® is proud to announce its latest tie-in with country music, this time with the singer/songwriter/actor Billy Ray Cyrus and his 13th studio album, Change My Mind. Beginning April 11, guests can pick up Cyrus' latest CD at Ryan's®, Country Buffet®, HomeTown® Buffet, Old Country Buffet® and Fire Mountain® for a special $8.99 price, while supplies last. Proceeds from the CDs will support the Armed Services YMCA® for Operation Outdoors, a camp program that assists the children of military personnel during deployment.
Count me in! What could be more sublime than listening to a Billy Ray Cyrus record in its natural habitat, pairing each song with authentic HomeTown cooking? Almost everything! But it's also a fine opportunity to combine two iconic American traditions (doofus pop country and shoveling food into my fat face) into one gravylogged bacchanal of sensual hillbilly excess.
Here's a bad look: waltzing into HomeTown Buffet at 6PM, buying a Billy Ray Cyrus CD and sitting alone for an hour with earbuds on, eating and photographing plate after plate of bizarre food combinations. Even among the strange denizens of early-bird hour -- and believe me, there were some real specimens -- I felt like an unprecedented creep.
Being the weirdest guy in HomeTown Buffet isn't an easy thing to cope with, but one thought raised my spirits: I am doing important work. You, the reader, probably the only reader, are counting on me to create delicious buffet meal pairings for each and every track on this Billy Ray Cyrus CD. Maybe you didn't ask me to do it, but damn it, I won't rest until...
Hey, where are you going? I haven't even started this stupid thing yet.
1. "Change My Mind"
The album's title track celebrates returning to the arms of an old love, which would seem to demand a tried-and-true comfort food. While I'd love to start with an appetizer, this album skips straight to the entree: this track is a big ol' southern pile of banjos and bombast. There's no sense getting too creative with this one -- goodness knows Billy Ray wouldn't -- so I went with some fried chicken and mashed potatoes with gravy.
Pairing verdict: A classic. The chicken was a country coma of fried horror, and the potatoes tasted like pure glue... the glue that holds America together.
2. "Once Again"
We move on to a maudlin track about pining for a lost love, so it's time to slow things down with a more wistful culinary choice. The balance out the lyrics of rainy nights, cold wind and moonlight on the windowpane, I chose the classic American pick-me-up: chicken noodle soup, served in some kind of plastic safety bowl for mental patients.
Pairing verdict: The song is dull as dishwater, and the chicken soup is largely composed of the same, but I got through them both without much of a struggle.
3. "Hillbilly Heart"
Time to get things moving again: "Hillbilly Heart" is a stompy blues hoedown about keeping it country. I was still recovering from the fried chicken, so I decided to go lite-country with a nice biscuit (it was the last one out -- pre-mutilated, probably bitten by a child). Lest that not seem hillbilly enough, I paired it with a little pile of bacon bits from the potate bar. I'm not sure that's what hillbillies actual eat, but hey, I tried.
Pairing verdict: My heart is now all clogged up with hillbilly pride, ready to thump right along to the next track in a labored, worrying rhythm.