Each week the Wide Open Country staff rounds up our favorite newly released country and Americana songs. Here are five new songs we can't stop listening to this week:
"We Are the Cowboys," Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson tips his hat to cowboys everywhere -- and his old friend Billy Joe Shaver -- on "We Are the Cowboys," the latest release from his forthcoming album First Rose of Spring. The song, originally recorded by Shaver on his album I'm Just an Old Chunk of Coal, is a reminder that the cowboys worth celebrating are those who fight for truth and justice.
"Cowboys are average American people/Texicans, Mexicans, Black men and Jews," Nelson sings. "They love this old world and they don't want to lose it/They're counting on me and they're counting on you."
The song's video, directed by Nelson's son Micah, was filmed at Nelson's Luck Ranch in Texas.
-- Bobbie Jean Sawyer
"Small One," Folk Uke
Folk Uke, a duo made up of Willie Nelson's daughter Amy Nelson and Arlo Guthrie's daughter Cathy Guthrie, sing a biting song about one man's oversized ego on "Small One." While on the surface it's tongue-in-cheek, the song packs a serious punch.
"'Small One' is a song about the man who has everything, including a crippling feeling of inadequacy brought on by years of torment from his peers, turning him bitter and vengeful from a young age until he is comforted by this thought: 'They will all be sorry when I rule the world'," the duo says in a press release.
The tune features Rami Jaffee (Foo Fighters) on keys, Bill Reynolds (ex-Band of Horses) on bass, Jeff Klein (My Jerusalem) on guitar, JT Bates (Bonny Light Horseman/Big Red Machine) on percussion, Matt Pynn (Dwight Yoakam, Miley Cyrus) on pedal steel, and Walker Lukens and McKenzie Griffin on backing vocals. A portion of the song's proceeds will go to the human rights organization Grassroots Leadership.
-- Bobbie Jean Sawyer
"Stars," Bootsy Collins (Feat. EmiSunshine)
Music legend and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bootsy Collins suits this week's list for a couple reasons: good music is good music and his young collaborator EmiSunshine is a country music prodigy.
Sixteen-year-old EmiSunshine joins Béla Fleck, Steve Jordan, Victor Wooten, Olvido Ruiz, Uché, Manou Gallou, Brian Culbertson, Christone "Kingfish" Ingram and Dr. Cornel West for a new Collins song about setting our differences aside as society copes with COVID-19 and struggles with its past.
"I was very impressed by this young lady's depth in the world around her," Collins says in a press release. "It is my pleasure to support EmiSunshine in her musical career. She has all the real qualities of a real person and a true star."
Proceeds from streams and downloads of "Stars" benefit the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund.
"Fishin' In The Dark," Erin Enderlin
Whether you're nostalgic for 1987 or wishing you could safely party with strangers to the sounds of current country hits, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's "Fishin' In The Dark" can transport you to some place other than your living room. Or, if you're Erin Enderlin, it can be an excuse to finally enter the studio with one of the talents behind the song's success.
"'Fishin' In The Dark' is a song I played in my high school dorm with my classmates singing along over cheap pizza - all the way to the bars on Broadway in Nashville for tourists enjoying a cold beer on Thursday night," shares Enderlin in a press release. "It's always brought a smile to my face, always been one of my go-to feel-good songs. I think we could all use a little more of that right now. It's even more special to me because Jeff Hanna of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band played guitar on the track.
"I've known Jeff several years now, and I have always been a huge fan of his work and his love for the history of country music," Enderlin adds. "But having gotten to know him, he is just one of the coolest people - such great creative energy. It was amazing to have him be a part of it and definitely something I'll never forget."
Enderlin co-produced her version with fellow singer-songwriter Alex Kline. Special guests aside from Hanna include CMA award-winning fiddler Jenee Fleenor.
"The Night," Morgan Wade
Morgan Wade's "The Night" boldly and accurately describes the inner turmoil that comes with mental health crises. "My mind likes to talk about everything I am not/And even worse, everything I am," she sings while painting a vivid picture of how it feels to battle invasive thoughts.
When she ignores Johnnie Walker Red's tempting advances, Wade goes a step further than otherwise benign "drinking to forget" songs, from Webb Pierce's 1953 hit "There Stands the Glass" to Thomas Rhett and Jon Pardi's "Beer Can't Fix," by addressing how self-medicating with a tall, cold depressant only makes things worse.
If these or other lyrics from "The Night" hit close to home, please know that there's no shame in seeking treatment.