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:
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.