Koe Wetzel’s song “Make Believe”, from his breakout 2019 album Harold Saul High, is probably his most underrated on any of his albums. I mean, tracks like “Ragweed” or “Forever” seem to get the praise they deserve, but somehow “Make Believe” is overlooked when you ask people which song their favorite one is.
And, to be honest, I don’t really know why.
Like a lot of his music, it’s deceptively deep and has an extremely unique sound to it. I think it really stands out on the album when you listen to the entire thing cover to cover.
He addresses some hard topics, like domestic abuse, in an exceptionally gripping way that’s hard to do in three and a half minutes on a track like this.
Plus, the story the song is telling is something we don’t hear much of these days in country music (yes, I know he’s not decidedly “country”), especially with the amount of searing honesty he always delivers.
It opens in a somewhat surprising way, where Koe seems to be playing the nice guy in the situation he finds himself in with a girl he likes apparently being abused by the guy she’s with:
“He’ll beat your ass for lying And he calls himself a man He shows that he loves you With the backside of his hand You always call me crying Swearing that you’ll leave Baby girl, you’re just my make believe”
It’s a little bit of a change of tune for a guy who writes a lot of songs about cheating and breaking hearts. It’s cool to see the softer, more sensitive side of him, if only for a brief, fleeting moment.
But, then, it takes a turn when he starts describing how he’d love to basically use the girl if she’d let him:
“We met through beers and backroads I was sleeping with your friend Luckily for me she’s a light weight And you were cool with one night stands
And the lies seemed to continue For fifty two weeks Sometimes I wish it didn’t happen And this was all just make believe”
We make the transition to Koe spilling details on how the two actually met and what really went on between them. Unfortunately, he can’t seem to get her out of his mind, but she is still in a relationship with the guy who Koe mentions at the opening.
He describes it in more detail in the chorus:
“Cause it ain’t fair to me and you It ain’t worth all the trouble we been going through To make believe that we will ever be more than we are right now And his love won’t stop your crying And your tears won’t stop me trying To get over you”
So, he doesn’t think he can ever move on, but her new life seems to be built around a lot of shallow meaning and material items that clearly aren’t enough to make her happy.
He even brings in some awesome details about Texas life and how the other guy in the scenario does pretty well for himself in the energy industry… probably a big reason as to why and how he got the girl in the first place:
“Years went by and we kept in touch Hanging on but not by much Cause you fell for the pipeline and all its money He’d promise you the moon and stars But you got shoes and diamond hearts And this old heart’s run away from lonely That’s why you call me”
Then, we go to the most confusing part of the song, where he explains how he’s done trying but simultaneously would do anything to have her…
“Fuck all this, I’m giving up Don’t call my phone when it gets tough And if you do leave your reason after the beep Why can’t you see I’d be good to you? If I can’t have whole, then half will do I’ll be at your house in 20 minutes”
The entire concept of the song that the girl is some illusive figure who may or may not be “real,” written with palpable confusion, is what I love about it.
The last line goes like this:
“Prove me wrong and make me know that you’re not my make believe”
So, I guess she is real, but isn’t necessarily real to him, but can become a real part of his life by leaving the guy she’s with for Koe?
It’s like so much time has gone by that he’s created a totally other version of what she really is in his mind that’s probably a lot better than what she is in reality at this point. I mean, I think we’ve all been there before and that’s usually how it goes, isn’t it?
The song is confusing, and thought-provoking and I love it. On top of that, it’s catchy as hell and fun to listen to with all of its beat drops and guitar solos. His vocals sounds perfectly twangy on it, too, which makes it that much better.
If it’s not on your list for your top favorite Koe songs, it should be: