Song of the Day #1,125: ‘Famous in a Small Town’ – Miranda Lambert

For me, Miranda Lambert is the country Fiona Apple.

Now, I’ll need to explain that analogy further because clearly these two women are nothing alike. Lambert isn’t one to wallow the way Apple can — her breakup songs are more likely to end with a gunshot than a minor piano chord. And certainly their musical styles live on opposite sides of the spectrum.

No, my comparison is based on something much more superficial — the fact that each has completely captured my heart, mind and imagination over the course of just three albums.

Most of the artists I consider among my very favorite have earned that distinction over many years and many records. Bob Dylan, for example, has released nearly 50 albums over as many years (and has been in steady rotation for me since I was 15). Elvis Costello, too, is mightily prolific.

Lucinda Williams, Aimee Mann, Ben Folds, Belle & Sebastian and Brad Paisley all have at least a half-dozen albums under their belts.

But Apple and Lambert sit among those ranks on the strength of a few dozen songs apiece.

To be fair, all of the other artists I named either did or would have grabbed me after their own first three albums. I knew after hearing the first two Ben Folds Five records that I was a fan for life. My first two Elvis Costello albums, King of America and Imperial Bedroom, cemented him as a favorite as well. So maybe it’s just a matter of timing.

For her part, Fiona Apple has released those three albums over 16 years, which is kind of ridiculous. If she had a normal career, she’d be up to her sixth or seventh record by now, either further cementing herself among my favorites or falling off my radar if the newer stuff wasn’t up to snuff.

Lambert, on the other hand, has released her three albums over six years and has a fourth due out later this year (along with a CD she recorded with a new group, Pistol Annies). So she’ll get the chance to prove herself again soon and I hope many more times in the coming years.

Dear readers, which artists are among your very favorites despite not being very prolific?

They say life is so much sweeter
Through the telephoto lens of fame
Around here you get just as much attention
Cheerin’ at the high school football game

I dreamed of going to Nashville
Put my money down and placed my bet
But I just got the first buck of the season
I made the front page of the Turnertown Gazzette

Every last one route one rural heart’s got a story to tell
Every grandma in-law ex-girlfriend
Maybe knows it just a little too well
Whether you’re late for church or you’re stuck in jail
Hey, word’s gonna get around
Everybody dies famous in a small town

Tyler and Casey broke up
It ended pretty quietly
We heard he was caught red-handed with her mama
So that’s just what they let us all believe

Every last one route one rural heart’s got a story to tell
Every grandma in-law ex-girlfriend
Maybe knows it just a little too well
Whether you’re late for church or you’re stuck in jail
Hey, word’s gonna get around
Everybody dies famous in a small town

Well baby who needs their faces in a magazine
Me and you, we’ve been stars of this town since we were seventeen
Let’s go on down to the quick stop
Wear your yellow shades and I’ll put on my tight jeans
And we’ll just spend the weekend burnin’ rubber
And we’ll let ‘em point and stare in disbelief

Every last one route one rural heart’s got a story to tell
Every grandma in-law ex-girlfriend
Maybe knows it just a little too well
Whether you’re late for church or you’re stuck in jail
Hey, word’s gonna get around
Everybody dies famous in a small town
Everybody dies famous in a small town

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3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,125: ‘Famous in a Small Town’ – Miranda Lambert

  1. Amy says:

    Well, I actually have sort of the opposite experience with most artists. I fall in love with an album or two and am hopelessly devoted to those, but I don’t seek out everything an artist may have created before my discovery. Other artists I lose track of, and I couldn’t begin to tell you how many albums they may have released over the past ten years that I have never heard. So… if I were to volunteer a name or two, I’m likely just to be scoffed at and told that such and such actually has released 15 albums!! I have never heard of.

    All that aside, what I couldn’t help thinking while reading today’s post was how you have a very similar relationship with filmmakers. How often have we discussed/debated whether it is “fair” to rank a director who has only made two or three films (if that, at the time of our debate) over a director who has made a couple dozen, and, therefore, certainly has a few more clunkers under his belt. I don’t find anything odd about loving a director or musician who has not been particularly prolific, but I do find it odd to place greater value on that person because the three albums (or films) they made are all great.

    I love Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird more than I can say, but I wouldn’t say that she is a better writer than Jane Austen (not that the two are comparable in any way, I realize ;), who not only created Pride and Prejudice but another five novels equally fine. That said, I don’t want the musical equivalent of a Nicholas Sparks who can’t seem to mark a holiday without publishing a book to celebrate it.

    Okay, let me see if I can play today’s game… Sara Hickman? (Nope, she’s been amazingly prolific since I fell in love with Shortstop a hundred years ago). Julia Fordham? (What?! She’s just released an album with Paul Resier?! http://juliafordham.com/ What on earth is that all about?)

    Aha… I think I have one…Billy Pilgrim!! I only own one album (out of the two I think they made), but I can sing every note and note every pause on that album. I absolutely adore it, despite the fact that the group never made much of a splash and seems to have only been together for about a decade. Of course, maybe I just played a different game – one hit wonders? Sorry about that.

    Regardless, I’m going to go check out Julia and Paul singing together!!

  2. Dana says:

    Well, Amy stole my thunder on the first artist that came to my mind—Billy Pilgrim. And, like, Amy, I too am guilty of falling in love with a particular album by an artist and then often not seeking out the rest of the artist’s output. Other times, when I do seek out the artist’s other albums, those albums end up collecting dust on the shelf as I return again and again to the one or two records I truly love and identify with that artist. Lyle Lovett comes to mind as a prime example of that, but others include Paul Simon, Billy Joel and Joe Jackson.

  3. Amy says:

    Paul doesn’t sing; he wrote (and plays?) the music. Apparently, he majored in music theory and composition way back before finding a career as a comedian. He was a huge fan of Julia Fordham, had the chance to meet her, then, a few years later, pitched the idea that they try making an album together. Sorry to say that I didn’t like the first song I heard, but it’s still a cool story. :)

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