“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 it says in “the great book of John.”

 

“The Ghost in This Guitar” [Dark Country: Songs For October]

Series Intro:

October is a month of lengthening shadows and stirring shades, as the chill creeps in, all things green turn beautiful colors before dying, and the dark presses ever closer.

Country and traditional music captures darkness the way no other genre really does. Songs of loss, damnation, violence, madness, murder, suicide, and terrors of both this world and the next are all shot through with a rich vein of pathos and old time religion.

I have a playlist where I accumulate “dark country” songs. Sometimes they are outright supernatural stories such as “Eli Renfro” or “Beaches of Cheyenne,” while others are songs of despair or loss like “Hurt” and “The Little Girl and the Dreadful Snake.”

Over the next month, I’m going to try to share one of these a day, starting with what I consider the most haunting song ever recorded, because everyone should be a little bit miserable in October.

Keith Urban: “The Ghost in This Guitar”

Urban is the second-best picker in country music (Brad Paisley is the first), and he shows he chops on this one.  He’s also a fine singer and songwriter, as this very early song of musical possession shows.

I have no idea what the story is with the accompanying video.

“Hurt” [Dark Country: Songs For October]

Series Intro:

October is a month of lengthening shadows and stirring shades, as the chill creeps in, all things green turn beautiful colors before dying, and the dark presses ever closer.

Country and traditional music captures darkness the way no other genre really does. Songs of loss, damnation, violence, madness, murder, suicide, and terrors of both this world and the next are all shot through with a rich vein of pathos and old time religion.

I have a playlist where I accumulate “dark country” songs. Sometimes they are outright supernatural stories such as “Eli Renfro” or “Beaches of Cheyenne,” while others are songs of despair or loss like “Hurt” and “The Little Girl and the Dreadful Snake.”

Over the next month, I’m going to try to share one of these a day, starting with what I consider the most haunting song ever recorded, because everyone should be a little bit miserable in October.

Johnny Cash: “Hurt”

Trent Reznor’s mopey emo posturing is transformed by some magical Johnny alchemy into the most powerful cover version of any song, ever.  Period. (Stop it. Just … stop. Don’t argue. It’s not that other one you’re thinking of.)

This is Johnny’s life bared and raw, sung in the way only an old man who has lost almost everything can sing. This is loss–real loss, which can only really mean anything against a background of a life lived and a full and vital faith such as Johnny had.

The performance itself is amazing. The music video–featuring old footage of Johnny and June intercut with him performing in the ruins of the Johnny Cash museum as Roseanne looks on sadly–is utterly devastating.

Johnny Cash. Damn, man: you were good.

“Welcome to Hell” [Dark Country: Songs For October]

Series Intro:

October is a month of lengthening shadows and stirring shades, as the chill creeps in, all things green turn beautiful colors before dying, and the dark presses ever closer.

Country and traditional music captures darkness the way no other genre really does. Songs of loss, damnation, violence, madness, murder, suicide, and terrors of both this world and the next are all shot through with a rich vein of pathos and old time religion.

I have a playlist where I accumulate “dark country” songs. Sometimes they are outright supernatural stories such as “Eli Renfro” or “Beaches of Cheyenne,” while others are songs of despair or loss like “Hurt” and “The Little Girl and the Dreadful Snake.”

Over the next month, I’m going to try to share one of these a day, starting with what I consider the most haunting song ever recorded, because everyone should be a little bit miserable in October.

Trace Adkins: “Welcome to Hell”

Satan welcomes Osama bin Laden to hell. Oh Trace, never change.

No sir, “There ain’t no virgins here.”

“Whiskey Lullaby” [Dark Country: Songs For October

Series Intro:

October is a month of lengthening shadows and stirring shades, as the chill creeps in, all things green turn beautiful colors before dying, and the dark presses ever closer.

Country and traditional music captures darkness the way no other genre really does. Songs of loss, damnation, violence, madness, murder, suicide, and terrors of both this world and the next are all shot through with a rich vein of pathos and old time religion.

I have a playlist where I accumulate “dark country” songs. Sometimes they are outright supernatural stories such as “Eli Renfro” or “Beaches of Cheyenne,” while others are songs of despair or loss like “Hurt” and “The Little Girl and the Dreadful Snake.”

Over the next month, I’m going to try to share one of these a day, starting with what I consider the most haunting song ever recorded, because everyone should be a little bit miserable in October.

Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss: “Whiskey Lullaby”

Yeah, this:

“They’re Hanging Me Tonight” [Dark Country: Songs For October]

Series Intro:

October is a month of lengthening shadows and stirring shades, as the chill creeps in, all things green turn beautiful colors before dying, and the dark presses ever closer.

Country and traditional music captures darkness the way no other genre really does. Songs of loss, damnation, violence, madness, murder, suicide, and terrors of both this world and the next are all shot through with a rich vein of pathos and old time religion.

I have a playlist where I accumulate “dark country” songs. Sometimes they are outright supernatural stories such as “Eli Renfro” or “Beaches of Cheyenne,” while others are songs of despair or loss like “Hurt” and “The Little Girl and the Dreadful Snake.”

Over the next month, I’m going to try to share one of these a day, starting with what I consider the most haunting song ever recorded, because everyone should be a little bit miserable in October.

Marty Robbins: “They’re Hanging Me Tonight”

This is a bit of a cheat, since technically it’s western and not country, but I trust that you like both kinds. Marty Robbins’ Gunfight Ballads and Trail Songs is one of the great albums of the 1950s, and you need to listen to it now.

 

“Mountain Angel” [Dark Country: Songs For October]

Series Intro:

October is a month of lengthening shadows and stirring shades, as the chill creeps in, all things green turn beautiful colors before dying, and the dark presses ever closer.

Country and traditional music captures darkness the way no other genre really does. Songs of loss, damnation, violence, madness, murder, suicide, and terrors of both this world and the next are all shot through with a rich vein of pathos and old time religion.

I have a playlist where I accumulate “dark country” songs. Sometimes they are outright supernatural stories such as “Eli Renfro” or “Beaches of Cheyenne,” while others are songs of despair or loss like “Hurt” and “The Little Girl and the Dreadful Snake.”

Over the next month, I’m going to try to share one of these a day, starting with what I consider the most haunting song ever recorded, because everyone should be a little bit miserable in October.

Dolly Parton: “Mountain Angel”

Dolly is a national treasure, and her story songs are jewel-like in their perfect form and content. The effortless way she captures the poor mountain culture of her childhood is a wonder. This sad song of love and madness will affect you, I guarantee it.