Luke Bryan just released a new song titled “Southern and Slow”.
It’s the third track released in the lead up to a new album, his current radio single “But I Got A Beer In My Hand” being another, and while his diehard fans continue to celebrate each new release like it’s the latest iconic song in the genre’s history, something needs to be said about these lyrics written by Matt Dragstrem, Josh Thompson and Chase McGill.
To level-set before diving in, I am not anti-Luke Bryan. He seems like genuinely good guy, he has a solid (albeit corny) sense of humor, and there’s no denying that Luke was one of the first artists that made me love country music when I first found the genre in high school.
Songs like “What Country Is”, “Been There, Done That”, “All My Friends Say”, and “We Rode In Trucks” were played on repeat in my Jeep and I’ll always look back on them fondly, knowing that they put me on the path to finding artists who really opened my eyes to what music can be.
With that being said, “Southern and Slow” is a lyrical disaster.
Admittedly, it’s not that bad sonically and certainly is much better than the ridiculous production on any number of his recent songs. There’s actual drums, which is a nice change-up from snap tracks, and while there’s still the trademarked Nashville wall of sound when the chorus hits, it’s obvious that this can actually be played with actual instruments.
But that’s as far as I can go with compliments, because the lyrics just take all of that good and flush it down the drain.
One of the biggest problems with the Bro-Country era that peaked in 2014 was the repetitive lyrics that don’t really mean anything. The intent was obviously to paint a lifestyle picture in which to place the song, but very quickly those tidbits of setting turned into the plot.
“The problem with country is we’ve turned the props into the play.”
“Southern and Slow” is nothing but props.
Let’s look at the first verse.
“I need to find a country station Where the DJ’s heart is breakin’ Playin’ Jones and Merle and Waylon all damn day I’m so sick of doin’ 90 Need a road that’s so damn windy Leads to somewhere no one finds this Chevrolet”
Let’s play spot the checklist items, shall we?
– Listening to a car radio
– Name dropping country music legends
– Wanting to find a backroad
– Driving a Chevy
We’re barely 30 seconds into the song and already hit 4 cliché items without one unique line.
But what about the chorus, does that get any better?
“I need slow and southern Like a Sunday Like muddy water rollin’ by a riverbank Like some sleepy little town, down with the moon Livin’ like honey drippin’ off a spoon Like the sun that takes an hour to get behind the water tower ‘Bout the speed of watchin’ wildflowers grow Ain’t but two ways this old boy’s gonna go Slow and southern, southern and slow”
Let’s fire up the old checklist tracker again, shall we?
– Slow moving Sundays
– Muddy river water
– Sleepy little town
– A water tower
I will give a bit of credit for the honey dripping off a spoon line, it’s decent at worst and certainly had potential. If the song was written differently and that was thrown in as a metaphor it would have crushed; instead it lives as a moderately better line surrounded by reused talking points.
The rest are more checklist items that are only put there so people go “Hey, I want to be in this mystical, magical, no name place instead of driving to the job I hate in a town I don’t really like.”
What about the second verse, does that get any better?
“Yeah, I’m over wild-ass women Gettin’ gone in a New York minute Aww, but girl, somethin’ tells me that ain’t you I wanna take my sweet time Like the slow buzz of that sweet shine Nothin’ keeps me high quite like you do When you love me”
I can’t remember, have we ever heard a song about a small town girl that isn’t going anywhere and isn’t anything like those city girls that love the hustle and bustle?
What about one saying he wants to take it slow and keep the love-buzz this girl gives him going?
I don’t know, I just can’t recall…
Is this the most offensively written song of all-time? Absolutely not.
But my goodness if this isn’t proof that Luke has mailed it in and will put out anything the label thinks is “radio ready” than I don’t know what is.
Even though we’ve seen so many improvements in mainstream country over the past few years, this shows there’s still much work to be done.