This week -- today, in fact -- the Golden, Texas native Kacey Musgraves finally releases her eagerly-awaited debut album, Same Trailer, Different Park. Indeed, it's fitting that she's from a town named Golden, as the new album is but the most recent example of some serious Solid Country Gold that's come from the younger generation of major-label maidens.
To add to that, one of Miranda Lambert's fellow Pistol Annies, the uber-talented Ashley Monroe, released 2013's first, great major-label country album, the stellar Like a Rose, just a couple of weeks ago.
The Monroe and Musgraves albums are different in a number of ways. Monroe is all-twang, all-the-time on Like a Rose. Whether she's singing about lovers from the present or past, or telling trashy stories just well-enough to be entertaining instead of, well, trashy, It's unlikely a more thoroughly entertaining country record will be released this year (though, the upcoming Pistol Annies album is sure to entertain, as well).
Meanwhile, the record from the equally young and unfiltered Musgraves is a folksy, story-telling collection that shines an oft-dim light on the lives of small-town, going-nowhere America. Same Trailer isn't an overall downer by any means, but the painful truth often relayed in the banjo and roots-based songs make the record's bouncier, light-hearted tunes stand out all the more.
On the sonic surface, one might have a tough time finding too many threads to tie these albums together. Aside from the relative young age of the singers and the hype surrounding the releases, there's a significant strand helping roll these albums together into a mind-altering one-two punch: judging by some of the strongest songs on each album, these ladies have a specific need -- a need for weed, that is.
Monroe and Musgraves have each already provided hints they're unafraid of singing drug-addled ditties. As a part of the Pistol Annies, Monroe performed "Takin' Pills," the rambunctious ode to an array of ways to stay sane while on the road, which included the chorus, "One's drinkin', one smokin', one's takin' pills." In the video, which was sexier than it was probably supposed to be, Monroe is the one popping pills at every turn.
Rampaging onto the country charts in 2012, Musgraves' hit "Merry Go Round," rightfully garnered praise from all angles, including mainstream giants such as Rolling Stone magazine. Taking a more sobering thematic route, her deft wordplay took center stage when bringing up pot.
The tune's masterful hook, "Mama's hooked on Mary Kay, Brother's hooked on Mary Jane, and Daddy's hooked on Mary two doors down," is a downright genius line of lyricism. Both high-times tunes set the stage for songs that would really bust out the good stuff once their respective 2013 records hit shelves.
On Rose, Monroe gets downright freaky in her need for weed, among other, more titillating things. "Weed Instead of Roses" is a bawdy wish for sexy-time items such as pot, whips, chains, and whipped-cream to kick-start an intimately stagnant couple's alone time.
It's tough to imagine even the laziest of slacker husbands not popping right up to Monroe's plea of "Give me weed, instead of roses, give me whiskey instead of wine. With every puff, every shot, you're looking better all the time." From there, it only gets kinkier, when she sings, "Let's trade-in the boxers for some sexy underwear."
Musgraves takes a decidedly different route in explaining the non-medicinal benefits of herbal rehabilitation in "Follow Your Arrow." In one of the record's most hopeful, playful tunes, Musgraves sounds happily under the influence herself as she encourages lost souls to, "Make lots of noise, kiss lots of boys, kiss lots of girls if that's something you're into, when the straight and narrow gets a little too straight, roll up a joint -- or don't, and follow your arrow wherever it points."
Other than Willie Nelson jokes and Eric Church's 2010 musical plea-for-green tune "Smoke a Little Smoke," (one of the dumbest song titles ever?), prominent mentions of grass haven't been exactly widespread in the mainstream land of clean country living and God-loving.
Sure, the understandable perception of the current country-music audience is a conservative one, but a great deal of the kids and young adults who have made Church, Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan headline acts likely enjoy a bit of weed themselves. Even in the current age of music where so much is "Taylor-made" (sorry, couldn't help it), for the masses of mini-vans, these tunes from Monroe and Musgraves express a truth that many country fans of all ages accept, even if quietly so.
Also, modern country music loves positivity. Redemptive tales of rising above one's troubled past or of living the life you've been given to the fullest reside in an insane amount of recent mega-hits. With both "Weed Instead of Roses," and "Follow Your Arrow," marijuana is enjoyably and artfully employed as a means to produce positivity. Let's not worry about whether such advice is legal or not right now. While it's doubtful that either of these tunes will be offered up to radio as a single, there's little mistaking that weed-talk isn't the taboo topic it once was.
Watch out, California- and Colorado-based medicinal dispensaries, these modern, pot-loving country gals will be coming your way soon as they tour to promote their great, new records. Better stock up.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.