Song of the Day #1,489: ‘Takin’ Pills’ – Pistol Annies

2011 was a big year for Miranda Lambert.

She married longtime boyfriend Blake Shelton (who was just about to reach a whole new level of stardom thanks to The Voice), notched her second #1 and eighth top 20 song with ‘Heart Like Mine’ (the fifth single from Revolution) and released the two best country albums of the year within a few months of each other.

Not bad for a small-town Texas girl.

Her first 2011 release was a partnership with longtime friend Angaleena Presley and their new acquaintance Ashley Monroe. The three singer-songwriters formed a band called Pistol Annies and debuted the act at a country music award show with a performance of ‘Hell on Heels.’ The song went over so well that the trio decided to release an album.

Hell on Heels (also the album’s name) is an old-fashioned mix of lovesick laments, old-timey singalongs and general badassery. The three women write and sing so well together that it sounds as if they’ve been paired up for decades, not less than a year. They share vocals very democratically, sometimes trading verses within a song (as in today’s SOTD) and sometimes stepping back to let one Annie take the lead.

The approach, and the results, remind me a lot of The Traveling Wilburys, though that band of course consisted of several superstars, while Lambert is the sole household name in Pistol Annies.

‘Takin’ Pills’ is the fictionally autobiographical tale of the band, with a guitar part straight out of Dylan’s ‘Highway 61 Revisited’ circling verses about each woman’s vice. Every musician should have this much fun.

She’s on the highest dose of Prozac a woman can take,
She’s likes to pop her pain pills with every little ache,
She’s got a Tennessee mountain point of view,
If you’re gonna have one might as well have two

Raised up right in the hills of Kentucky,
Although she ain’t gonna smile til she lights up her lucky,
No filter on her mouth or her cigerettes
Oh baby what you’re lookin’ at is what you get

Ya we owe 400 dollars to the boys in the band
Gas light’s blinking on our broke down van
We’re living on truck stop burgers and fries
Crossing our fingers for a vacancy sign
Well who in the hell is gonna pay these bills
When one’s drinking, ones smoking, ones taking pills

She’s a rootin’ tootin’ pistol from the Lone Star state
She mixes up a double at the break of every day
She might get crazy but she don’t get mean
Until some drunk cowboy asks her to sing

We owe 400 dollars to the boys in the band
Gas light’s blinking on our broke down van
We’re living on truck stop burgers and fries
Crossing our fingers for a vacancy sign
Well who in the hell is gonna pay these bills
When one’s drinking, one’s smoking, one’s taking pills

Now we ain’t ashamed of who we are
We like fast men and cheap guitars
Ain’t trying to get rich just trying to get by
By playing for tips on a Saturday night

We owe 400 dollars to the boys in the band
Gas light’s blinking on our broke down van
We’re living on truck stop burgers and fries
Crossing our fingers for a vacancy sign
Now who in the hell is gnona be pay these bills
When one’s drinking, one’s smoking, one’s taking pills

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6 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,489: ‘Takin’ Pills’ – Pistol Annies

  1. Amy says:

    I would imagine they were inspired by The Traveling Wilburys, don’t you think? Have you ever read anything about how and why they did this? And whether it will continue? I guess Monsters of Folk is another group of the sort?

    Meanwhile, the twang factor in this one is likely to send Dana over the edge ;) – and once again, I’m finding it a bit much for me, too.
    This week is helping me hone my “country” tastes even further.

  2. Dana says:

    As Amy predicted, I still don’t like the twang. However I do like the song better than Monday’s SOTD, particularly the verses and guitar work, though not so much the chorus. Also the other Annies are a bit less twangy than Lambert, so that helps.

    And while they may or may not have been inspired by the Wilburys, let’s be clear that this album is a distant and lesser cousin or stepchild to that incredible collaboration.

  3. Clay says:

    I wouldn’t call it a distant relative… this is a fantastic album. The Wilburys take the gold medal, for sure, but as super-groups go, I’d definitely give Pistol Annies the silver.

    • Dana says:

      Well, I suspect that Roy and George would be turning over in their grave thinking that a group led by Lambert and some no-names was a close second to their classic album. Fairly sure Petty, Lynn and Dylan would feel the same way…but hey, everybody is entitled to their opinions, so if you really think this twang fest is up there with the Wilburys, what can I say?

  4. Clay says:

    Given Dylan’s own forays into country music (not to mention his vocals), I doubt he’d feel the same way.

    Hell On Heels is a great album. In fact, though I do give the overall nod to the Wilburys record, I’d argue that it’s less consistent than this one. I’ve never been a fan of the repetitive ‘Congratulations’ and ‘Tweeter and the Monkey Man’ is rather clunky.

    And thanks to this blog’s archive, I have you on record saying Roy Orbison’s voice annoys you and that you’re not a fan of the song ‘Not Alone Anymore.’

    I said good day, sir!

  5. Dana says:

    LOL!

    Consistent mediorcrity (or what you might call “very good”:)) is not the same as a collection of great songs, with only a few weaker tracks.

    I concede that “Congratulations” is weaker than others–don’t agree at all about “Tweeter.” And yes, as Cathy would say, I am “guilty as charged” regarding my dislike of Orbison’s voice. Having said that, I would take Orbinson’s vibrato over Lambert’s twang every day and twice on Sunday.

    I said good day to you!

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