My Kind of Country

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

Daily Archives: December 4, 2009

Country’s drinking problem?

hankfriends1Friday night is upon us. And for lots of us that means a chance to go out and shed some of the stress acquired during the work week. Well, I know for me it does. It’s almost taboo to sing about drinking and partying these days in country music. The songs that do slip through usually fit two categories: One is the trite redneck anthem. The other is a ballad that points up the ‘consequences’ and the importance of a 12-step program, complete with platitudes for daily living. But, to hell with those songs tonight.

To borrow a a phrase from Miss Emmylou (and/or Paul Kennerley), ‘tonight I want to do some drinkin’/I came to listen to the band …’ When I am drinking, two of my favorite artists to listen to are Hank Williams Jr. and Miranda Lambert. Bocephus is raw country at its finest, and Miranda is the next generation of honky tonk angel. You just can’t go wrong with a glass of Kentucky bourbon and some Hank Jr. or Miranda on the stereo.

What are your favorite drinking songs?

Here’s two of mine …

Listen to Hank Williams Jr. – ‘Stoned At The Jukebox’

Listen to Miranda Lambert – ‘Dry Town’

P.S. Drink responsibly.

Writer’s note:  This is a recycled topic, one I originally posted back in February.  Since I’m still drinking and listening to country music, I decided to re-post it.

Classic Christmas Rewind: Amy Grant – ‘Tennessee Christmas’

Single Review: Zac Brown Band – ‘Highway 20 Ride’

I confess that I hadn’t paid much attention to the Zac Brown Band all through the chart run of their three big hits to date, culminating in ‘Toes’ this past summer. I didn’t really pay them any attention at all until I saw their fiddle-heavy live cover of ‘The Devil Went Down To Georgia’ on the otherwise largely disastrous CMA Awards show last month. That got me interested enough to check out their platinum-selling album The Foundation, and I enjoyed it much more then I was expecting. Although they’re not traditional country by any means, this is a band which realizes (rare for a major label act with chart action) that less is sometimes more and doesn’t feel the need to ramp everything up to 11. My favorite track from the album, the slightly atypical ‘Highway 20 Ride’, has now been announced as the fourth single.

It is very different in tone from their previous laid-back and light-hearted hits, and it remains to be seen how country radio will respond to a serious, mature song from the band. Written by the band’s lead singer Zac Brown with his usual songwriting partner Wyatt Durrette, and sensitively produced by Keith Stegall, the subdued lyric consists of a divorced father’s pondering on his situation on his long fortnightly drive to see his young son. The playing is low-key but nicely supports Zac’s sincere vocals as he explains in his mind to the child how:

“There’s things I haven’t told you,
Your mom and me couldn’t get along…
There was no other way to work it out”.

Refreshingly no blame is cast in the direction of his ex-wife, with the focus firmly on the protagonist’s wistful longing to spend time with the boy. Poignantly, he seems to have little faith in the future of their relationship, gloomily anticipating,

A part of you might hate me
But son please don’t mistake me
For a man that didn’t care at all

No one listening to this song could make such a mistake.

It would be fair to say that Zac is not one of the great male vocalists, as his pleasant voice is really what I would call more of a songwriter’s voice, but that works perfectly on subtly understated material like this, because it feels emotionally real, whereas a “bigger” singer might over-emote. In the last few lines, the vocals do start to sound a little overwrought as Zac repeats the title, and this works less well for me than the introspective mood of the greater part of the song. This is a minor criticism, however, of a single which, if it is a hit, will go some way to partially restoring my faith in radio.

Grade: A

Hear the song on the band’s myspace.