By Elmer Ploetz and Jessica Meditz

Last month we tried an experiment. Intern Alyssa Bump and the editor (me) threw some songs at each other to see what connections (or disconnects, for that matter) there were between her indie rock playlist and my more Americana one.

This month we’re doing the same with former intern Jessica Meditz. How does the music that she, a recent college grad, listens to compare with the Americana songs the 62-year-old editor listens to?

I supplied her with a list of 10 songs, and she gave me 10. Then we figured it out.

Here are the results:

Jessica’s reviews:

Gettin’ Down on the Mountain – Corb Lund

I’m a city girl and not a huge country music fan, and Elmer knows this, so you could say he threw it right at me with this song. Lund, who comes from cowboy ancestry, sticks to his roots with this foot-stomping tune. The music video looks like an old western film, shot in that brown-toned, low-resolution fashion in the middle of the wilderness. The song’s lyrics are that of your typical country song, with mentions of gutting fish, tracking deer and digging wells, which are not relatable to me at all. But I did feel it in my chest when the line “Don’t wanna be around when the sh*t goes down” was repeated. All in all, Corb Lund seems like the kind of person who’d be cool to hang out with, but I don’t know if I’d go out of my way to listen to his music.

Copperhead Road – Steve Earle

I don’t know what it is about this song, but it just gives me “dad music” vibes. Like something my dad would play while he barbecues or something. Maybe it’s because the first lyrics are “Well, my name’s John Lee Pettimore, same as my daddy and his daddy before, you hardly ever saw Grandaddy down here.” While this song isn’t really my cup of tea, it does have some interesting instrumentation, especially toward the end. Even though it’s a country song, “Copperhead Road” has an Irish rock feel to it as well. I can certainly appreciate the genre-blending and experimentation with different instruments.

The Highwomen – Highwomen

The Highwomen’s “Highwomen” is the feminist remake of The Highwaymen’s “Highwaymen.” Boy, was that sentence confusing to write. Anyway, not knowing either of them, I felt obligated to listen to both versions. I definitely prefer the girl group’s take on the song over the original. You can feel the emotion more. I enjoy Maren Morris as a solo artist, so I was naturally drawn to her in this group. English singer-songwriter Yola is featured on this track as well, and I immediately fell in love with her beautiful, soulful voice. I’ll definitely have to check out more music from all of these ladies.

Why Don’t You Meet Me Down in Corpus – Gary P. Nunn

Country meets Jimmy Buffett! This song’s tune is very similar to “Margaritaville,” and Nunn’s vocal style is similar to that of Buffett’s. I was pleasantly surprised by this one; it’s a really fun, upbeat song with lighthearted lyrics about slipping away with your bae and taking a drive down the interstate to the beach. This song just makes me want to be at a tiki bar with a margarita in my hand after a long day at the beach. This one’s going in my summer playlist for sure.

I’m disappointed because I cannot seem to find a recording of Woody Guthrie singing this song. The version I listened to is performed by his son, Arlo Guthrie, and singer-songwriter Hoyt Axton. However, it’s pretty obvious that Woody Guthrie wrote this song, most likely on his guitar with a sticker that says “This machine kills fascists.” “Deportee,” a protest song, portrays his sadness toward the tragic 1948 plane crash at Los Gatos — in which 28 Mexican immigrants died — only to be referred to as “deportees” to the public. This isn’t a song you listen to on the daily, it’s more so one of those pieces of music you appreciate for its message and sad beauty.

Long Live the King – Margo Price

I know exactly why Elmer sent me this song. It reminds me a bit of my favorite singer, Lana Del Rey! (Especially for the guitar solo toward the end of the song. It sounds like it could be snuck into a song from the “Norman F*cking Rockwell” album and I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference). Among other things, Del Rey loves to sing about somber topics and Elvis Presley, which this track gives us right off the bat. Price sings about the tragic deaths of Presley as well as Martin Luther King Jr. and John Lennon. On brand with the whole Lana thing, the lyrics to this are a bit cringeworthy and cliche at times. I think the song could have been a lot more poetic with stronger word choices and more creative themes. I did enjoy the slow-burn effect of the whole thing, as well as the hints of gospel toward the end.

Jesus Was a Capricorn – Kris Kristofferson

This short and twangy tune by Kris Kristofferson has a simple message: people are going to look down on you no matter what (even if you’re literally Jesus), so do whatever the hell you want. He uses everyday societal cliques to make his points: “Eggheads cursin’ rednecks cussin’ hippies for their hair. Others laugh at straights who laugh at freaks who laugh at squares.” Basically, in this dog eat dog world, humans tend to find someone to look down on in order to feel superior. But instead of doing that, Kristofferson encourages people to help themselves.

I Will Always Love You – Dolly Parton

I’ve said it before and I will say it again: I LOVE Dolly Parton. And I love this song, always have. Believe it or not, many people (including my mother …) did not know that this song is originally Dolly’s. Although Whitney Houston’s version is iconic, Dolly’s original has a deep, emotional feeling to it that Whitney’s just does not — at least in my opinion. It’s really just a timeless and beautiful song, and she sounds like an angel singing it. Fun fact: Dolly Parton wrote “I Will Always Love You” and “Jolene” in one day. If that doesn’t scream “musical genius” to you, I don’t know what will. She really is a national treasure.

And late additions, courtesy of the Grim Reaper:

That’s How I Got to Memphis – Tom T. Hall

Tom T. Hall must’ve had a really bad case of love sickness while writing this song — and not in a cutesy way. “That’s How I Got to Memphis” has similar energy to the Police’s “Every Breath You Take” — following the one they “love,” obsessing over their every move and driving themselves crazy over it. If it gets to that point, take the hint bro, she doesn’t want you! Anyway, toxic lyrics aside, I did enjoy this song on the first listen. The smooth guitar and hints of piano were pleasant additions to the song.

Bowling Green – Everly Brothers

“Bowling Green” by the Everly Brothers was a nice, cheery one to end the playlist. The intro in particular was super cool and had a mystical feel to it before it morphed into a foot-tapping beat featuring a wind ensemble. This song prompted a visceral response for me, with lyrics that have plenty of visuals like, “The fields down in Bowling Green have the softest grass I’ve ever seen” and “Kentucky sunshine makes the heart unfold. It warms the body, and I know it touches the soul.” I think it’d be the perfect song to drive on a breezy, empty highway with the windows down.

Elmer’s reviews:

Chinatown – Bleachers feat. Bruce Springsteen
Bruce Springsteen cemented his Americana credentials when he released “Nebraska,” his largely acoustic album, in 1982. This collaboration with Bleachers, which is essentially Jack Antonoff in the studio and him and a band live, hearkens back to the earlier E Street Band with its classic ’60s pop/Wall of Sound approach. It’s a great listen and if you search out the live version you’ll see Antonoff can’t keep a smile off his face as Bruce does his thing during a rooftop performance. Who could blame him?

ZITTI E BUONI – Måneskin
Interesting choice here. Italian lyrics, but a sound like Z.Z. Top (“Eliminator” era). A little search shows this song won the Eurovision Song Contest, which is a big deal in Europe, earlier this year. It’s a strange mixture of goth fashion, hip-hop phrasing, glam production and the slightest bit of Americana connection through that refried boogie element. It might make it onto my phone.

Terrence Loves You – Lana Del Rey
Whenever I hear Lana Del Rey, I think of the “Twin Peaks” TV show because of the ethereal melancholy in her music. Same here: Big guitar at the open (think of Chris Isaak), leading into a piano ballad that makes lyrical mention of jazz and the blues. There are some lines referring to David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” too.  Like most Del Rey (I think), the song is a bit of a puzzle. This song is from 2015, and she’s moved toward a bit more of an Americana sound, as opposed to the Americana themes that were always present in her music. I’d love to see her do a full-blown acoustic guitar/fiddle/pedal steel style album someday, though!

Fast As You Can – Fiona Apple
For musical chameleon Fiona Apple, this one sounds like her modern take on old-style R&B. It’s not a direct link, but it makes me think of things like Ray Charles’ “I Don’t Need No Doctor.” It’s a good intro to Fiona Apple for people like me, who haven’t gotten into her quirky indie sounds yet. It’s about as rootsy as she gets.

L.S.D – Skegss
This is a catchy song of lo-fi garage rock from Skegss, the first single from the Australian band from 2014. Does that make it Australianica? I’m not sure what the connection of the title is to the song, but it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it, as the kids used to say.

The Cave – Mumford & Sons
I always associated Mumford & Sons with the Avett Brothers as practitioners of neo-folk, the indie rock version of folk rock. There’s a bit of irony to the fact that the British Mumford & Sons bring some American folk-rock influences (especially the banjo) back to the Isles, given that so much of American folk music and folk rock arose from roots in the United Kingdom. This one, from 2010, strikes me as a breakup song of sorts, although the meaning is a bit cloudy.

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea – Neutral Milk Hotel
Neutral Milk Hotel also hits that folk rock/indie rock sweet spot on “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea,” a cheerful contemplation on death with a little psychedelia mixed in (I think it’s the musical saw that does it, sort of like the amplified jug with the 13th Floor Elevators). This cult favorite was released in 1998.

Heartbeats – José González
OK, Jess, where do you find them? Jose Gonzalez is a Swedish artist (his parents fled Argentina in the 1970s) who specializes in doing acoustic versions of other people’s songs. This is a deceptively cheery love/hate song that was originally done by the Swedish Eurobeat duo Knife. I hope I’m not engaging in musical stereotyping, but think of a modern version of Jose Feliciano, with his version of “Light My Fire.”

Keep You – Wild Belle
I don’t see much Americana connection here. There are some elements of funk mixed in with the reggae beat. If you look up the official video for the song, it is truly strange. I’m still trying to figure out what I think of it.

Champagne Coast – Blood Orange
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