Song of the Day #1,951: ‘Get High’ – Brandy Clark

brandy_clark_12_stories2013 has been a great year for country women.

Already we’ve had a delightful second album by Pistol Annies, and stellar debuts by Ashley Monroe (one third of the Annies) and Kacey Musgraves (who has ridden her refreshing, gay-friendly millennial outlook to a CMA award for Best New Artist and enough crossover appeal to land a gig on Ellen).

Now comes Brandy Clark, a successful songwriter for others who has delivered her own excellent solo debut.

Clark’s songs have charted for Miranda Lambert, Darius Rucker, The Band Perry, LeeAnn Rimes and more. She’s a country Carole King, content to sit behind the scenes until she wasn’t.

Most of the songs on 12 Stories were written for others but never recorded and Clark certainly makes the case that they never should have strayed from her guitar and voice. She offers up these 12 tracks with little fuss but a whole lot of genuine emotion.

Her songwriting is stellar. Her character sketches ache with real-life pathos. ‘What’ll Keep Me Out of Heaven’ is sung from the perspective of a woman on her way to consummate an affair, knowing what a mistake she is making but unable to resist the sweet temptation. ‘Take a Little Pill’ and ‘Hungover’ document the devastation of addiction, while ‘Get High’ (today’s SOTD) takes a light-hearted look at a housewife who lights up to cool down.

A few years ago I never would have given an album like this a chance, based on its genre alone. I’m so glad I got over that anti-country bias, even while I recognize that much of what’s coming out of Nashville is crap.

Clark, along with frequent songwriting partner Shane McAnally, represent a new wave of country artists. Along with Musgraves, Monroe and Lambert (who went from ingenue to elder statesman over the course of a few years), this group is bringing an emotionally resonant, feminist and often surprisingly leftist perspective to country music. Both Clark and McAnally are openly gay, which itself feels like a giant leap forward for the genre.

I mentioned that some new albums take awhile to grow on me. 12 Stories dug its hooks into me the first time I heard it and hasn’t let go since.

She hates her job, loves her kids
Bored with her husband,
Tired of the same old list of things to do.
So when the “to-dos” have all been done,
She sits down at the kitchen table,
Rolls herself a fat one.

Smoke so sweet, fills the air,
She maybe oughta to crack a window
All she can do is stare at the paint
That’s been a’peeling off the walls
A couple of tokes and her troubles don’t seem all that tall

You know life will let you down,
Love will leave you lonely.
Sometimes the only way to get by, is to get high

She laughs out loud, at who she used to be.
The girl who’d look down on the woman smoking weed in her kitchen.
Sometimes she misses them younger days.
Seeing the world thru rose colored glasses,
Instead of this purple haze.

But you know life will let you down,
Love will leave you lonely.
Sometimes the only way to get by, is to get high

So she tucks her kids in at night
Kisses her husband turns off the lights and talks to God
Says “Lord help me accept the what I can’t change”
But until I learn to do that,
Thanks for the Mary Jane.

But you know life will let you down
Love’s gonna leave you lonely
Sometimes the only to get by, is to get high
Yeah, sometimes the only way to get by, is to get high.

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2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,951: ‘Get High’ – Brandy Clark

  1. Dana says:

    As I have said before when discussing country music, I tend to like those songs that draw from the blues and bluegrass, Today’s song fits the bill. In fact, arguably, this is a pure blues song with the classic 1-4-5 blues chord structure. The only thing that makes this country is the type of guitar used and that it is being performed by someone who identifies as a country artist. If you heard this song done by Bonnie Raitt or Eric Clapton, you wouldn’t even think of it as a country song.

    If the rest of the album sounds like this, I suspect I would like it as well.

  2. pegclifton says:

    Reminds me a lot of Bonnie Raitt too.

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