Welcome to Playlists, a series where we turn over the reigns to artists to curate the next big playlist
Anyone can be a songwriter, but there are few that can really move you. Guy Clark. Loretta Lynn. Townes Van Zandt. Dolly Parton. Plainspoken truths about love, loss, life and death, country music is indebted to middle America, the struggling single mom of three down the block or the just-out-of-high-school iron worker trying to do right by his family. Those stories are what make the genre so critical to the life-blood of art, music, humanity. It thrives on hardships, suffering, triumphs, even, in the midst of devastation.
Such singer-songwriters as John Pedigo uphold those concepts and ideals in their own ways, painting with sharpened song craft and keeping the format’s ethos from vanishing. Also without other fine tunesmiths, including First Aid Kit, Vandoliers, Old 97’s, Jessica Mayfield, Amy Annelle and The Chats, all who appear on Pedigo’s just-pressed We Can’t Be Guy Clark But We Sure Can Try playlist, dropping today, country music would be dead.
Going by Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner, a moniker inspired by his father’s love of terrible homemade beer (and bowling), Pedigo’s band is set to issue a new self-titled record March 2 on State Fair Records.
Below, Pedigo reflects on his choices, track-by-track.
“Anyhow I Love You” by Guy Clark
The king. No words can describe what he has brought us. His catalog is like a fish farm, easy to catch a good one by simply tossing a dart.
“Some Days” by Pedigo’s Magic Pilsner
Shameless? Maybe. A good song? You decide.
“Emmylou” by First Aid Kit
If you don’t like this song, you shouldn’t listen to music.
“Wildflower” by Vandoliers
Ok, so I’m biased because I produced both Vandoliers’ albums, but this truly is one hell of a song. I’m very proud to have recorded this particular one in my garage. They’ve got new stuff in the works that will blow people away.
“If I Go, I’m Goin” by Gregory Alan Isakov
Beautiful tune from one of the heaviest hitters in the songwriting world. It’s got it all: vibe, mood, lyrics, poetry. Yes.
“Jesus Loves You” by Old 97’s
These guys have meant so much to me for the last 20 years. They are mentors, friends, collaborators and all-around great guys. Their music is amazing, and the songwriting has always been stellar. It’s difficult to pick any one track. Here’s one off the latest record.
“For Today” by Jessica Lea Mayfield
I have been obsessed with this song for over 10 years. It never gets old. I generally prefer the live versions of this song with only her and a guitar; however, this version captures the sadness and darkness in her voice. She’s a true gem, and her new record is fantastic.
“Losing Side of Twenty Five” by American Aquarium
The hardest working band in the biz, they deserve every bit of respect they get. Despite the band quitting behind singer BJ Barham, he has persevered with a new line up. This is one of the crowd favorites off of their last record, ‘Wolves.’ They’ve got some new stuff in the can coming out later this year…
“Thunderbird Will Do Just Fine” by Eleven Hundred Springs
Matt Hillyer and the gang made a near flawless album some eight years ago. Here’s one of the more lively tunes on the record. It takes me back to Adair’s Saloon (in Dallas) on Monday nights. These guys have a new album coming out this week, and by all accounts, it’s very special.
“Buckskin Stallion Blues” by Amy Annelle
This is an excellent version of a Townes Van Zandt masterpiece. Her voice is spectacular and captures the darkness of the song with a sliver of bitter-sweetness. Sidenote: My favorite Townes story involved him getting caught by some cops urinating outside of Poor David’s Pub in Dallas, TX. He had his pants down and responded simply to their incredulity, “Where did she go?”
“Fight” by Ben Kweller
A Texas legend and a super sweet guy, this is one of his rowdier cuts off of the ‘Changing Horses’ album, full of his boyish charm anchored by the weight in his words.
“Smoko” by The Chats
This has no business being on this list, but it’s so badass that I wanted to include it anyway. It’s hilarious and realj, similar to Courtney Barnett in a kind of talk-sing stream-of-consciousness type of vibe.
Photo Credit: Casey Kinney