Sad Country Songs Make Me Happy: Charles Wesley Godwin’s Pick – “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” By Darrell Scott

Charles Wesley Godwin country music
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If there’s any artist who knows a thing or two about a hauntingly sad country song, it’s the great Charles Wesley Godwin.

And if you follow Whiskey Riff in any capacity, then you know how much all of us here absolutely love them.

Since some of my favorite artists in the genre right now have written some of my very favorite sad songs that hurt so good, I wanted to know what some of their favorite’s were that inspired them to write soul-crushing music just like George, Willie, Merle, Waylon and all the other country greats.

So far for this Sad Country Songs series, we’ve heard some great picks from Whiskey Myers frontman Cody CannonWade BowenHailey WhittersMiranda LambertGraycie YorkRiley GreenRandall KingParker McCollumAshland Craft, Carly Pearce, and today, I want to share Charles’ go-to.

I had the pleasure of chatting with him a few weeks ago at Greenville Country Music Fest, and among other things, had to ask him about his very favorite sad country songs.

Of course, with him being one of the best acts to come out of the Appalachian scene in recent memory, he says he loves Darrell Scott’s “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive”:

“I really like Darrell Scott’s ‘You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive.’ That’s one of my favorite ballad, story songs.”

Originally written and recorded by Darrell Scott, it was first included on 1997 his debut album Aloha from Nashville.

The tune was inspired by a trip to Harlan, Kentucky, when he was there looking into some of his own family history. While searching for his own great-grandfather’s grave in a cemetery, he stumbled on headstone that read “you’ll never leave Harlan alive.”

The rest, as they say, is history, as he paints a sad, and unfortunately true, picture of what life can be like working in a coal mine and struggling to get by.

Of course, it’s been recorded by quite a few other artists over the years, including a very famous version by Patty Loveless, as well as Brad Paisley and Kathy Mattea.

Patty recently gave a show-stopping performance with Chris and Morgane Stapleton at the Country Music Awards a couple weeks back, which you should definitely check out if you haven’t yet.

Charles added that these are the kinds of songs that give him goosebumps and touch the deepest parts of his soul:

“Often times, those are the songs that give me goosebumps, make my hair stand up on my arms.

There’s something’ about the word craft, you know, a good melody and an interesting voice that touches my heart for whatever reason.”

Couldn’t have said it any better myself… you can watch him talk about it here:

@whiskeyriffWhat do you think??♬ original sound – Whiskey Riff

“You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive”

And when it comes to picking my favorite sad song of CWG’s, it’s nearly impossible to choose just one, because he has so many good, deep and dark ballads about love and life in the hills of his native West Virginia.

But it’s hard to find a sadder tune than “Needle Fall Down,” from his 2021 How the Mighty Fall record, which was our #1 Top Country Album last year.

Do yourself a favor and check out this entire record if you haven’t yet, because this is what country music should sounds like…

“Needle Fall Down”

And if you really wanna get in your feels today, make sure you check out our Sad Country Songs Make Me Happy playlist.

Listen to the playlist on Spotify.

Listen on Apple Music.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock