Tyler Childers is easily one of the best songwriters on the planet right now.
He’s already got a fair case to be considered one of the all-time greats, but the fact he’s accomplished everything he has at only 30 years old proves he’s got time to build one of the most impressive resumes we’ve ever seen.
While the gritty vocals and bluegrass roots (mixed with a little psychedelics) certainly play a huge role, there’s no doubt most of his rise has been fueled by the lyrics.
Here’s some of his best lyrics that define Tyler Childers.
Of course, there’s going to be many great ones I miss, so let us know which ones strike you the hardest.
Yes, it’s his most popular, but it got there for a reason. The second verse is such a phenomenal love letter I’m blown away each time I hear it. Seriously, it may be the best thing I’ve ever read.
“Lookin over West Virginia Smokin’ Spirits on the roof She asked ain’t anybody told ya That them things are bad for you
I said many folks have warned me There’s been many people tried But up til now there ain’t been nothing That I couldn’t leave behind.”
Plus, everyone loves a nice “thicket” reference…
Truly hard to imagine Tyler was just 19 when he recorded his first album, Bottles and Bibles. This song is a testament to what so many people feel in Appalachia to this day, but especially throughout history when the only work was pulling coal out of the mines.
“Well the sign at the church says I’ll reap what I’m sowin’ But I ain’t lost sleep, it’ll come in due time If the Lord wants to take me I’m here for the taking ‘Cause hell’s probably better than tryin’ to get by”
“You can see me on the front page It’ll be out tomorrow A boy in his 20’s, shot down in his prime For trying to hold up the Texaco station They’ll say I was desperate They’re probably right.”
“Honky Tonk Flame”
Stumbling upon the woman who changes your whole life, immediately knowing things will never be the same. Tyler sums up that frying pan to the face moment better than any.
“You were sweet to the touch And a touch for the takin’ The minute I learned how to breathe Finally found out that the love of a woman Who loved me was all that I’d need”
By far the catchiest on his 2019 Country Squire album, “Gemini” features some on the best roll-over lines and phrasing of all his songs and is bound to be stuck in my head for the rest of the week…
“Back when I was younger, I didn’t have a clue Come to think of it I still doubt I do…
I used to take my time and burn it in a bong Iced down with the lights turned off And somethin’ in the speakers I could ponder on Somethin’ I could mull around
Now I’m lit up like a Christmas tree Check one-two can y’all hear me?”
“Peace Of Mind”
This song is the ultimate description of those family’s that scraped by their entire existence, everyone looking forward to or having that one thing that keeps the sane from the everyday tragedy.
“He ain’t smoked no marijuana Since he got on with the railroad And he’s been on with the railroad for a long and lonesome while But the day that he retires He will smoke himself to China He will leave behind his worries as he’s racing through the sky.”
“Bottles And Bibles”
The lonely lives of priests and pastors… that may be the next shitty TV sitcom, I’ll be honest, it’s a pretty good name, but the reality of many small town preachers is a pressure filled life that might lead to a very tragic end.
“He didn’t believe her He just knew she’d come home But the nights kept a’ crawlin’ As he laid there alone And he’d call up to heaven And he’d hope and he’d pray But the line’s always busy Since he went astray”
“Now the bottles and bibles Broke out in a fight The whiskey fought hard, son And took the victory that night”
Some artists shy away from locational based references and verbiage, but Tyler’s ability to weave these tiny places and regional details into our lives is unrivaled. Unless it’s something you’re familiar with, you would have never have known that clovis is an arrowhead and banded refers to the bands that wrap around it and it’s one of the most valuable arrowheads when they’re found because they’re very rare. You learn something new everyday…
“We dug for a while then it all turned to ashes Found a bunch of broke flint and a few bits of bone Then I heard Jesse yell o’er the pile he was sifting Shook the hills like the angels were callin’ us home Jesse, Zachary come home
It was banded as hell, it was fluted and clovis It was hot as the pistol I kept on my side I was fiending so fierce, I was broke ass and busted I pulled out my pistol and I took Jesse’s life”
Gotta love a classic country murder ballad…
This is a real thinker of a lyric, perhaps stemming from a few chemical-induced revelations. Took me 2 or 3 listens to get the whole thing, but man am I glad I took the time.
“And leave ’em all behind Chisel to the paper Tattoos on the ether Fadin’ in the light”
“Til the day I met my doom A fox got in the chicken coop Doin’ all he knew to do to feed a hungry den”
“Once I was and you were too And we were both the word of truth We built this world together with a loud and mighty bang Lord it sounded like a train And echoed o’er the land And we came up with a game to play of being born again”
Bonus: “Honest Work”
And unreleased gem about a family that steals medicine from senior citizens, stealing copper wire, cooking meth, and whatever other “honest work” they can find to make ends meet.
Appalachian storytelling at it’s finest… I’m not sure how it’s never made a record.
And then there’s “Lady May,” “Shake The Frost,” “Universal Sound” and dozens of others that would wipe the floor with just about everything else on country radio these days.
Make no mistake people… Tyler Childers is one of the best we got.