Song of the Day #4,179: ‘Codeine’ – Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

Best Albums of the 2010s – #11
Here We Rest – Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (2011)

My #11 album of the 2010s is the only one on this list that I didn’t hear when it first came out. Jason Isbell’s Here We Rest eluded me for six years.

I discovered Isbell after reading year-end praise of his 2017 album The Nashville Sound (recorded, like this one, with his backing band The 400 Unit). The excellence of that album prompted me to download the rest of his catalog.

Four of Isbell’s solo albums were released in this decade — Here We Rest, Southeastern, Something More Than Free and The Nashville Sound — and every one of them is superb. This album stands in for all of them on this list.

Here We Rest is my favorite of the bunch because of how effortlessly it swings between pathos and humor, ballads and rockers, love and pain. Sometimes it does all of those things in the course of a single song.

It also features today’s SOTD, ‘Codeine,’ one of the best things Isbell has ever recorded. It’s an oddball epic, filled with telling details and sad confessions, and performed like the saddest, drunkest singalong you’ve ever heard.

If there’s one thing I can’t stand
It’s this bar and this cover band
Trying to fake their way through ‘Castles Made of Sand.’
That’s one thing I can’t stand

If there’s one thing I can’t take
It’s the sound that a woman makes
About five seconds after her heart begins to break
That’s one thing I can’t take

She should be home by now but she ain’t
I should’ve gone by now but I can’t
One of my friends has taken her in and given her Codeine
One of my friends has taken her in and given her Codeine

Them eyes was big as stars
When I saw you behind the bar
I guess that’s the way to keep on smilin’ where you are
But girl them eyes was big as stars

It sounds funny when you say my name
It’s like you’re chewing on a foreign thing
And you won’t get to sleep ’till dawn if it don’t rain
It sounds so funny when you say my name

You oughta come home tonight but you won’t
I wish we knew how to fight but we don’t
One of my friends has taken you in and given you Codeine
One of my friends has taken you in and given you Codeine

Darlin’ I’m not one to judge
But if I was then I’d say you don’t look so good
Got no answers of my own
But with you gone, this place looks bigger than it should

If there’s two things that I hate
It’s having to cook and trying to date
Busting ass all day to play ‘hurry up and wait.’
That’s a few things that I hate

If I call when I ain’t drunk
This old boat’ll still be sunk
Cause one of my friends has taken her in and given her Codeine
One of my friends has taken her in and given her Codeine

One of my friends has taken her in and given her Codeine
One of my friends has taken her in and given her Codeine

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,179: ‘Codeine’ – Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    Certainly not a surprise to find country music to be prominent in your Best Of list.

  2. The Cool Guy (Daniel) says:

    I love “The Nashville Sound”! I first discovered him through his beautifully poignant song “If We Were Vampires” and then kinda rabbit holed from there. I only listened to “Something More than Free” as far as his solo work goes. I didn’t know he had another album with The 400 Unit, so this is a very exciting day for me! I will be sure to check it out. Isbell is a fantastic musician, songwriter, singer, and guitarist. One of my favorite videos is him playing the electric guitar Bob Dylan used at his first Newport Folk Festival performance. His respect for Dylan and enthusiasm made me like him as a person and therefore as an artist even more.

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