Download of the Week: Sturgill Simpson

Back in college in Vermont I had a few, and I mean a few, cassettes in my painting studio that were on near infinite repeat including a Hank Williams compilation and Sonny Rollin's Freedom Suite. A decade or more before college back home in NJ, we had an "uncle" who wasn't my uncle who dressed up like a cowboy and sung and strummed Hank Williams' tunes and C&W classics in smoky bars. Mom took us to see him perform and I always found the bar, the smoke, and its patrons at least as interesting as Uncle Pete, who was certainly a colorful kinda guy.

Odd as it may seem, I have no idea how I stumbled on Sturgill Simpson, especially as I've been on a C&W hiatus for a few decades, checking in with Hank and Patsy only on rare occasions (there was always something sad, lonely, and menacing about Uncle Pete whose lovely wife, our blood relative, hung herself). What's odd is this discovery only happened a few weeks ago and I have no recollection as to why I clicked Play on Metamodern Sounds In Country Music (High Top Mountain; 2014). But I did and hot damn! I'm sure as shit am glad I did.

Sturgill Simpson has a voice that convinces me he feels what he says and what he says is refreshingly fresh and at times kinda far out.

Here's the first track "Turtles All The Way Down":

I've seen Jesus play with flames
In a lake of fire that I was standing in
Met the devil in Seattle
And spent 9 months inside the lions den
Met Buddha yet another time
And he showed me a glowing light within
But I swear that God is there
Every time I glare in the eyes of my best friend

Says my son, "It's all been done
And someday you're gonna wake up old and gray
So go and try to have some fun
Showing warmth to everyone
You meet and greet and cheat along the way"

There's a gateway in our minds
That leads somewhere out there, far beyond this plane
Where reptile aliens made of light
Cut you open and pull out all your pain
Tell me how you make illegal
Something that we all make in our brain
Some say you might go crazy
But then again it might make you go sane

Every time I take a look
Inside that old and fabled book
I'm blinded and reminded of
The pain caused by some old man in the sky
Marijuana, LSD
Psilocybin, and DMT
They all changed the way I see
But love's the only thing that ever saved my life

So don't waste your mind on nursery rhymes
Or fairy tales of blood and wine
It's turtles all the way down the line
So to each their own 'til we go home
To other realms our souls must roam
To and through the myth that we all call space and time

The accompanying music is pure, simple, and classic (with some psychedelic twists) and even though I was sold at "Where reptile aliens made of light/Cut you open and pull out all your pain", Sturgill's retelling of When In Rome's '80s new wave (ick) hit "The Promise" slowed down to a soulful crawl sealed the deal. That's some singing right there.

Get Metamodern Sounds In Country Music from Sturgill Simpson's Bandcamp page.

Jay Buridan's picture

Your Uncle Pete and the Mahabharata were right about one thing. It's definitely turtles all the way down :)

Mark Tarone's picture

Great to stumble upon Sturgill sooner rather than later. I heard one song on the radio (WNCW internet stream) early this year and ordered his last two albums soon thereafter. Here's a video demonstrating that we're not alone in our appreciation of Sturgill's singing and music. He's got a fantastic industry team behind him, and they are over the moon about working for him - big, brigth days ahead: