“Down From Dover” [Dark Country: Songs For October]

Series introduction and other entries. Dolly Parton: “Down From Dover” The one and only Dolly, with one of her most poignant songs, about a woman left pregnant and abandoned by her lover. Controversial in its time, she later recut it for her bluegrass album Little Sparrow. The later version is superior and adds a verse, but I [Read More...]

“All My Tears” [Dark Country: Songs For October]

Series introduction and other entries. Emmlyou Harris: “All My Tears” It all began with Emmylou for me. A friend told me to listen to Ballad of Sally Rose, and that was the first time I took country seriously. I wanted her in this series somewhere, but which song? Some of her songs, like “Boulder to Birmingham,” touch [Read More...]

“God’s Gonna Cut You Down” [Dark Country: Songs For October]

Series introduction and other entries. Johnny Cash: “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” The “you” is Satan. Johnny believed. You hear it in every note. [Read more...]

“3 Shades of Black” [Dark Country: Songs For October]

Series introduction and other entries. “3 Shades of Black”: Hank Williams III This is darker than most, and Hank 3 seems to kind of enjoy it that way. I’m less struck by the lyrics than I am by the eerie resemblance of his voice his grandfather’s. The song certainly not to every taste, and lacks the moral core [Read More...]

“Long Black Train” [Dark Country: Songs For October]

Series introduction and other entries. Josh Turner: “Long Black Train” This one’s not too dark, but I like the Christian message of choosing “victory in the Lord above” over riding the devil’s train, and Josh Turner has one of the best voices in contemporary country. [Read more...]

“Angel of Death” [Dark Country: Songs For October]

Series introduction and other entries. Hank Williams: “Angel of Death” Hank again (it always comes back to Hank), with a down-tempo meditation on death asking a simple question: “are you ready?” Like so much country music, the dark themes aren’t just for kicks: they’re a serious warning for people to prepare to meet the Lord, just like [Read More...]

“If I Die Young” [Dark Country: Songs For October]

Series introduction and other entries. The Band Perry: “If I Die Young” The combination of Kim Perry’s sweet voice, the rather jaunty descriptions of her rotting corpse, and a good hook made this an odd song to become a breakout hit, but it shows that new country knows its roots, and has plenty of life left in [Read More...]

“Midnight in Montgomery” [Dark Country: Songs For October]

Series introduction and other entries. Alan Jackson: “Midnight in Montgomery” Alan Jackson is probably my favorite country singer/songwriter working today. In this one, he encounters the ghost of Hank Williams. [Read more...]


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