If you don’t know the name Jessi Alexander, I’m fairly certain you’ll know quite a few of the songs she’s written.
She’s one of my favorites in all of Nashville, but doesn’t get the credit she deserves considering she’s also a fantastic artist in her own right. She released her first studio album, Honeysuckle Sweet, in 2005, in addition to Down Home in 2014 and most recently, Decatur County Red last year.
Some of the biggest hits she’s been a part of writing include Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb,” Lee Brice’s “I Drive Your Truck” and Morgan Wallen’s “The Way I Talk,” among plenty of others.
Though she doesn’t have a massive catalog of her own songs and records, there some great stuff to dig into that you need to hear nonetheless.
I made a list of six of my favorites to get you started:
If you’ve ever felt lost or empty during a phase of life when you should be feeling pure bliss, this song is for you. It’s a little bluesy, and she cuts to the heart of what it’s like to feel trapped or have other dreams in mind for yourself beyond your current situation.
Check out some of the lyrics:
“The milk is spoiled The clothes need a washin’ The baby’s a cryin’ down the hall Supper was ruined The dishes still need doin There ain’t a damn thing on TV at all
And I got chains Around my ankles And I got chains Around my heart I see my dreams Flying out that window”
This song is a tribute to the place she grew up in Tennessee. She details some of the unique memories that come along with summer in the south, and how it compares to the sweet taste of a honeysuckle (hence the title).
Jessi grapples with her faith on this track. She admits that she’s been running from God as she bares her soul and hopes that he can help her get back on track and live her life differently. It’s essentially a written-out prayer set to music.
“The Long Way”
If you’ve ever been young and in love, you will easily relate to this song. She talks about how she just wanted to get out of town, and essentially took the first guy she fell in love with and ran. Though it wasn’t the easiest, most conventional route, taking “the long way” to get where she ended up allowed her to learn more than she ever would’ve otherwise.
On this song, Jessi recalls all the daily chores and responsibilities her mama had when she was growing up. She finds herself realizing how much work it was now that she’s in a similar phase of life (she has three kids of her own with husband Jon), and explains her new understanding of why her mom had to have a drink at the end of every day.
She even had a little help with the lyrics from her husband Jon Randall on this track, and they both show off their strong writing chops exceptionally here.
She delivers some of the details with wit and humor throughout the song, but especially in the first verse:
“Fifty hour week, no fun, no sleep
Pulling that overtime It’s a delicate dance working like a man While you’re keeping your apron tied
Don’t seem fair, gotta color your hair And you’re barely thirty six years old Livin for a sip, Knowing what you’re gonna get at the door when you get home”
“Decatur County Red (feat. Jonathan Singleton)”
This might be my favorite Jessi Alexander song. As Jonathan Singleton (who recently appeared on an episode of the Golden Saw Music Hall Series) lends his background vocals, Jessi paints the nostalgic picture of her imperfect childhood growing up in Decatur County, Tennessee with homespun lyrics that will make anybody homesick, no matter where you’re from:
“It’s in my blood, it’s in the river, and the dirt It’s in that sunset over Shiloh, every crimson bible verse I could run but I won’t ever forget ‘Cause that July sun forever stained my neck Decatur County red”
And as a bonus because I know you want to hear this one, too, here she is singing “The Climb”: