Monday, November 22, 2021

Break/Broken: Broken Hearts and Auto Parts

Kevn Kinney: Broken Hearts and Auto Parts

Somehow, I almost completely missed Drivin’ N Cryin’, a band that emerged from Atlanta in the mid-1980s. Probably because they started after my college radio days, and because I don’t think they got much airplay in the northeast. But at some point, I heard the song, “Broken Hearts and Auto Parts,” by Kevn Kinney, who was the lead singer of the band, and I really liked it. (Which led me to investigate some of their music). 

It’s a profoundly sad song, and the title is explained by the very first line: “Ain't been the best year so far...I lost my girl, I lost my car.” And the song continues with a litany of loss and sadness, leading to a remarkable catchy chorus, despite its wistfulness: 

It's been broken hearts and auto parts and everything between.
I was on the move and in a suit, and on the silver screen.
Where I could hide for days, and live inside my dreams.
It's been broken hearts and auto parts this year.

Drivin’ N Cryin’ put out music through the nineties before taking a break, reforming in the late 2000s and releasing an album in 2009 and a series of EPs in 2012-2013. At that point, guitarist Sadler Vaden joined the band for a spell, before leaving to join Jason Isbell’s band, the 400 Unit, and a new album was released in 2019. Kinney’s solo career also continued through the 90s and 2000s, and his most recent release, with a version of Golden Palominos, A Good Country Mile, featured a cover of Isbell’s “Never Gonna Change,” (which was mentioned in a piece I wrote about Golden Palominos a few years back). 

As most of you who’ve read my work know, I’m a big fan of Isbell’s (and if you didn’t know it, the number of references to him in this piece about a Kevn Kinney song should clue you in a little). Back when the Georgia Senate races were the big political news, Isbell promised on Twitter that he’d do an album of covers of songs by Georgia artists if both Ossof and Warnock won. They did, and Isbell and his band, and a number of guests, actually made good on their Twitter promise (unlike the many people who have promised to leave the US if one or the other candidate won the presidency), recently releasing Georgia Blue. One of the tracks on the album is Drivin’ N Cryin’s “Honeysuckle Blue,” sung on the album by Vaden (who was not in the band when that song was released). And I was lucky enough to see him sing it the other night during a great set by Isbell and the 400 Unit: 

It will be interesting to see if the inclusion of “Honeysuckle Blue” on Georgia Blue leads to a revival of interest in Drivin’ N Cryin’ and Kinney, who have flown somewhat under the radar (although they are members of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame). 

FWIW, Isbell has promised to do an album of Texas covers if Beto O’Rourke wins the governorship. Which is another reason to hope that happens.


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