Last week, Turnpike Troubadours fans were excited to get another update on lead singer Evan Felker, who was last seen working on a ranch in Texas, and this time, buying some cattle. He was looking even happier and healthier than the last time, and it’s just an awesome sight to see.
Can you imagine hauling a trailer of cattle to a farm in Texas and Evan Felker comes out to get them? What a stroke of luck, that guy should play the lottery.
After hearing this, I did what I assume most Turnpike fans did and immediately listened to just about all their music again. And while “Good Lord Lorie” is still just as good as it ever was, and “Diamonds and Gasoline” still gives me chills, there’s so many underappreciated album cuts that deserve more credit. That being said, here’s my factual and accurate list of their most underrated songs.
Of course, everybody has their own definition of “underrated” or underappreciated.” A song might be popular and still not get its due and others might be deep cuts only the real fans know. Either way, the beauty in it all is that there is pretty much no wrong answers… pretty much.
5. Morgan Street
Morgan Street takes you to a bar-scattered town’s main party road and runs you through a group of friends who can’t get enough of it. It captures the “we’ll be more than this someday” attitude most townies have after a few drinks and is a great party song with a good rhythm and fun accordion riffs.
“Well the movers and shakers down on Morgan Street
Passin’ out booze, tattoos and scars
Dance to anything to with a good backbeat
Drink up the night, close down the bars
Drink up the night, close down the bars.”
This might be the most obvious sad song in their catalog, which says something, but the harmonica is so pretty and Evan tells the story of a struggling man with such grace you can’t help but to be drawn in. The last verse really takes it to another level and makes you rethink the chorus’ last two lines each time you hear them…
“Now I’ve seen your face a thousand times,
have nightmares running through my mind & it hurts,
Just to pretend
But the devil failed and so have I
From perfect grace you faced the sky
I never thought a love like this would end
Now your words cut right thru me like a knife
I gave my love and now I take my life…
Evangeline can’t you see I’m sorry
Can’t you hear my tears ringing through the night
Waiting in hell between these bed sheets
Pray to God for morning light”
3. Easton & Main
“Easton & Main” is a timeless story of a guy falling in love with a girl, knowing of she’s out of his league, but one unconfirmed look from her gives all the fuel needed to work hard and one day prove to her he’s worthy. Admit it, we’ve all fallen at least a little in love with a bartender before, so putting yourself in his shoes just takes a beer and your imagination…
“Well I left my heart in Tulsa
On the corner of Easton and Main
On the Cain’s Ballroom floor
Soaking up a bourbon stain
Now I’m going back to see her
Just as soon as I can
And I left my heart in Tulsa
On the corner of Easton and Main”
2. Pay No Rent
Written for Felker’s Aunt Lou, this song is a toast to her and the wild, awesome character she was. Since she was the only one in their small town who would drink tequila with him at 10am on a Tuesday, Felker and her were very close until the day she died, after which he wrote and sang this song at her funeral. A beautiful tribute to a beautiful soul.
“Are you cracking jokes with the common folks?
Are you serving to the well to do?
I’ve traveled round and I ain’t found nobody quite like you
And is all this living meant to be or a happy accident?
Well in my heart you pay no rent
Well in my heart you pay no rent.”
In their most underrated song (in my humble opinion), Felker takes you through the conversation he’s having with a friend, or possibly the new man of his old girlfriend, warning him of the problems with marrying this young, wild lady.
Some of his best work with simple, short lines that make you just sit back and smile. If this is the new man of his old lady, you can just imagine the awkwardness of the conversation. And in the more likely scenario where he’s talking to his friend, you can hear the slight plead to reconsider, because once you’re married you can’t take it back… at least not for cheap.
“Well I can tell you she’s a bad idea
For the good it would do
You got a Chevrolet as old as her
Hey you bought it new”
“Oh a thousand things that I could say
But I just bite my tongue
And listen as the last note fades away
That bell can’t be unrung”
“Well I could tell you she’s a bad idea
For the good it would do
I could tell you she’s a mixed-up girl
Hell she’s 22”
You may be asking why I don’t know if Felker is talking to a friend of the new partner of his ex, and honestly it’s because I don’t know the last word in a sentence he says between Verse 1 and 2.
“Mmm hmm nice to meet you man/ma’am”
That one word changes the entire song. Maybe there’s a clip of him saying which one it is. Maybe I’m deaf and it’s obvious which one he says. I don’t know, but I love the fact I can listen to the song twice and get a different experience from it each time.
This just adds to the greatness and proves it’s not only a top Turnpike song, but a top song in general.