REVIEW: H.R. Gertner’s “Two Dimes and a Nickel” is Trailer Park Shakespeare


In the most famously prolific period of his career, Bob Dylan released 11 albums between 1962 and 1970. There’s a lot of speculation about how he did it, but most historical accounts point towards lots of amphetamines and little sleep. It’s a good gig if you can get it, and if you can turn it into great music, who are we to judge?

It’s with that famous streak in mind that you must consider Two Dimes for a Nickel, the latest album from H.R. Gertner. “Two Dimes” is Gertner’s astonishing 20th release since 2012, a number so high it makes me wonder what exactly is keeping this Gainsville artist up at night?

Aside from his prolificacy, Dylan isn’t the best comparison for Gertner, who writes humorously-specific lyrics like John Prine and sings more like James McMurtry, in a southern growl with a hint of cynicism.

Lyrically, Gertner builds odd little American worlds that could earn him the title of Trailer Park Shakespeare. In “I’ve Got Reasons,” he sings lyrics that are weird enough to be true, if not for him – at least for somebody.

The guy who dated my sister in the 12th grade

Three year’s later is the grand marshal of the gay pride parade

And the first girl who ever broke my heart

Ended up strung out on meth and became a porn star

Though it’s not necessarily a topical record, in “None of Your Business,” Gertner dips his toe into the culture war of religion and politics, and confronts those who judge him over his religion (or lack thereof). He sings the refrain of “Glory Glory Halleluia” for emphasis.

Ain’t none of of your business where I go on Sunday

Ain’t none of your business if I do or don’t believe

Ain’t none of your business ‘cause I’ll be back by Monday

‘Cause I know the boss man is counting on me.

Musically, the album is fun: it’s mostly cheery with a thumping double bass and clean folk guitar again reminiscent of John Prine. The album sounds like summer in the south, with a nostalgic weirdness hidden in it.

I don’t know a lot about H.R. Gertner; but I’m pretty sure I’ve been to places like where’s he’s from. It’s hot, and humid, and if his lyrics are any indication; it’s got great people watching. With 20 albums in 8 years, it’s obvious he’s got a lot of material.

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