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Weekend Earworms: New Music From Old 97’s

Weekend Earworms: New Music From Old 97’s

An estimated 92% of us experience earworms. Despite the annoying times we can’t get a chorus or a hook of an overplayed pop song out of our heads, getting a really good earworm stuck can be one of the best things, ever. We here at Nerdist are dead set on bringing you those types of songs—even if only for the weekend. So shove this into your grey matter!

This week’s earworms are fairly laser-focused on one of my favorite bands and their new album released last month. I’m sure everyone has experienced that “new album obsession” from time to time, and I got it bad with the Old 97’s Graveyard Whistling.

Their latest album marks the 19th record released by the band and there’s a lot to love about each and every one of them. Add to that lead singer Rhett Miller’s seven solo releases and you’ve got quite a lot of great music to get through. Given my druthers, this column would go through selections from all of those albums but–since I’m certain no one would be interested me fanboying about a band for that long–I’ll stick to their latest. Hey look! Jenna Fischer is in their latest video, with Fred Armisen on drums!

“Good With God”


Their new single is served up in a parody of the MTV show 120 Minutes with Fischer hosting and Armisen sitting in on drums since the actual drummer (Philip Peeples) injured his back. The studio version is a duet featuring fellow alt-country singer Brandi Carlile that, in addition to the steady country drumming, evokes thoughts of an old Johnny Cash/June Carter performance.

“All Who Wander”


Strip the music away from most Old 97’s songs and you’re still left with some stunning poetic lyrics. Miller’s songwriting packs quite a punch and a lot of songs end up beautifully describing some sort of melancholic sweet spot of lost love, without being overly specific to a particular situation. As an example in this song, “All who wander are not lost, just me/Signals and wires both get crossed/Remember back when you got lost with me,” is a particularly lovely set of words, suggesting a number of things beyond just twisting around the (normally positive) phrase about wandering being OK. Is being lost good or bad? Are they crossed signals of interpersonal connection or physical phone lines? Miller’s lyrics paint a gorgeous picture, but he allows it to remain ambiguous enough for the listener to project their own experiences onto it. Not many song writers can do that sort of thing as well as Miller has in this and the other 20+ albums.

That’s not to say they aren’t capable of having some fun at the same time…

“Irish Whiskey Pretty Girls”

The Old 97’s have always had a fairly consistent sound that I’ve always felt is far more deserving of the moniker “country” than the twangy light beer-guzzlin’ tunes that currently hold it. Their music feels like it follows in the footsteps of Cash, Nelson, and Jennings and should be considered real “country” while the rest of the “I love my truck and Mmmmurica” should get “Country Pop” at best. Am I a city dweller arguing semantics over genre placement of music I don’t know enough about? Sure am. But hey, it’s the internet, after all.

Hopefully you’re already a Old 97s’s fan but boy am I jealous if you’re just getting started. You’ve got quite a bit of listening ahead of you!

What are your favorite Old 97’s songs? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

Image: Old 97’s


Blake Rodgers writes for Nerdist from Chicago, IL where he lives happily with his Guinness World Record for High Fives. You can be his pal by following him on Twitter (@TheBlakeRodgers)

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