Friday, April 3, 2015


"Liar, Liar, your pants are on fire" runs the playground jibe, thereby encapsulating the ambivalence we embrace around untruth. Lies can either be the ultimate act of betrayal or just a little fib. Is there a difference? And what about white lies? Popular music is jam packed with all categories, but it is the songs of the spurned that appeal to me most, the songs of the betrayed, often bitter in their vitriol, and usually relating to discovered infidelities. Some of these songs are in the male voice, and will often be  full of self-pity and solace in alcohol. Far better those by the stronger sex, coming out fighting with harsh diatribes and withering words. Here's one of the best:

"Your lies won't leave me alone
you used to say you loved me did ya
why'd you do me this way
it didn't have to be that way
I got your message on the phone
I hung on every single line
you told me what we had was only business
hurt me so bad I had to sit down with the sickness
oh yeah
Your lies won't leave me alone
tore the phone out the wall and it's still ringin'
wreck the room and curtains ain't hangin' baby
guitar ain't playin'
Your lies won't leave me alone
look at your picture in the room I can see you were
never happy with me baby-
all my uncertainty is easy to see
how you're killin' me, cause
I got those bills you would not pay
the cost of our love is way too high and I just keep on
payin' baby
why'd you say you loved me - walk around and carry on,
hurting 'bout your love is gone, the song I sing is sad
and long, wonder if you are alone,
I don't know if I belong
Your lies won't leave me - alone"

This was the first track on Shelby Lynne's blistering mainstream breakthrough in 1999, I Am Shelby Lynne, having had a less distinguished country starlet career ahead of that. I recall hearing the album at the time, this opening song hitting me like a runaway train, the mix of strings, southern soul and venom sounding not quite like anything else out at that time, uncategorisable beyond great. The rest of it is equally good, but the running order is perfect, so as to give that thump almost immediately. Never sure whether it was or not to an errant lover, I prefer to imagine it was to her erstwhile bosses in her 13 years in Nashville prior to that. Seldom has a best newcomer Grammy been longer awaited or better deserved. With an onstage presence suggesting someone not to be messed with, and yet who has been frequently messed with, she helped open the door for other guitar slinging southern vixens, other slow burners such as Lucinda Williams and Susan Tedeschi coming to mind.

The sorry tale of Shelby's youth has oft been told, with the shotgun murder of her mother and the suicide of her father, with the same gun he had earlier used on her, this being supposedly responsible for her alleged difficult nature within the music business. Well, maybe, but what I find even more remarkable is the courage of the woman to succeed in life after such odds being stacked against her. Likewise that this upbringing should also produce her successful sibling, Allison Moorer, arguably ploughing a gentler path, though the lyrics of her recent break-up (with Steve Earle) album, Down To Believing might belie that, suggesting a similar steel runs through both girl's blood. Which is a good moment to introduce the two sisters playing this piece's title song again, together.

Here's the bonus version of the studio track to buy

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