A lifelong student of bluegrass, Billy Strings' high and lonesome sound has evolved over the years to combine hints of rock, jam, metal, punk and more. His well-rounded sound and prolific picking have made him one of the most mesmerizing artists of any genre and led to him sharing stages with everyone from Post Malone to Trey Anastasio, Bela Fleck and Bob Weir.
Strings signature sound has also led to several award nominations and wins including a Grammy in 2021 for "Best Bluegrass Album" (Home) and International Bluegrass Music Awards for "New Artist Of The Year" (2019) and "Entertainer Of The Year" (2021). It's also ushered in co-writes with the likes of Luke Combs, Les Claypool, Fences and RMR, further elevating his cross-genre appeal.
Despite being known for his unpredictable live shows with surprising covers and extended jams, Strings fans are equally drawn to him for his own songwriting. Now with four albums under his belt after the 2021 release of Renewal, we've gathered our 10 favorite songs from the modern musical marvel below.
10. "Away From The Mire"
A tune showcasing Strings blending of the worlds of bluegrass and psychedelia, "Away From The Mire," a humbling story of self-reflection rooted in not spending too much time worrying about the past but instead living in the present moment and appreciating the journey that is life. This is exemplified in the song's second verse, in which Strings sings "You're drowning a sorrow that's long been at rest / The past is a hell, it can creep up inside you / So let me remind you of this / It's the reason your troubles exist."
9. "Doin' Things Right"
Strings encourages listeners to fight for a better world on "Doin' Things Right," an anthem preaching unity and compassion from 2017's Turmoil & Tinfoil. The song is a reminder to live with joy and kindness rather than fear and animosity because we're all in this together and a lot more alike then we'd like to admit. Strings says as much in the tune's chorus, singing "We gotta stick together baby / Through thick and thin / If we're gonna see the sun come up again / It don't matter where you're from / What shade you are / Keep reaching for the sun and the moon and the stars."
8. "Watch It Fall"
A co-write with fellow Michigander Aaron Allen, "Watch It Fall" is a bonafide bluegrass banger that laments on the dark side and consequences of capitalism like "Wall Street skimming from the till while no one minds the store" or "chunks the size of Delaware are falling off the poles." In between all of these pitfalls he goes on to ask when will enough be enough, singing "How long until there's nothin' left at all?"
The second track from Renewal, "Secrets" is a story of the pain we carry around with us every day but never share with anyone, causing them to boil beneath the surface as secrets to ourselves. It's also a lesson in vulnerability and the positive effect it can have not just on you, but those around you as well.
6. "On The Line"
A blazing bluegrass number about being young and carefree, "On The Line" is a song about doing what makes you happy and living the life you want rather than doing what will line your pockets the most. For those that don't see eye to eye with his mantra, Strings sings "I'd love to show you but you wouldn't go / I'd love to take you but I know the way you roll / You see it your way, I see it mine and I'll be fine."
5. "Know It All"
Strings is trying to learn from his mistakes as he picks up the pieces from a lost love on "Know It All," a song about not letting arrogance or your vices ruin a good thing. The song acts as a reminder to constantly be open to learning, growing and expanding your knowledge because you'll never have all the answers and assuming you will can often do more harm than good.
4. "Must Be Seven"
Another of several co-writes with Aaron Allen on this list, "Must Be Seven" features some of the most vivid imagery of any of Strings songs to date as the artist sings about his rough upbringing in Michigan and how his family moved away with him in search of a better life. From being a "child headed the wrong way" to a "brittle flower bloomin'" the song poetically captures Strings journey from rags to riches and how to take the cards you're dealt "To build a house the big bad wolf could not blow down."
3. "Love And Regret"
A confessional about someone who messes things up with his lover who runs off on his own to wallow in his sorrows, "Love And Regret" is a vignette into a past time in Strings' life where the artist was down on his luck and in search of answers. Compared to most of Strings songs the instrumentals with this one are rather tame as the artist instead opts to let the weight of his words and the emotions running through them carry the brunt of the ballad's bewilderment.
2. "Dust In A Baggie"
A song about the trials and tribulations of life as a methamphetamine addict, "Dust In A Baggie" is one of Strings oldest and most popular tunes. Based on a true story, the song tells the tale of somebody Strings knew who had just gotten out of a five year stint in jail for the possession of meth before getting busted again and thrown back in jail for 20 years for a miniscule amount of meth amounting to nothing more than "dust in a baggie."
1. "Meet Me At The Creek"
Strings beckons listeners to a place that eases his worried mind on "Meet Me At The Creek," a jam that sings the praises of simple pleasures like unplugging by getting out to the creek and letting its muddy waters wash the pain and stress from your daily life away. The near 10 minute thrasher also includes some of Strings most masterful mashing that translates into one of his most impactful live songs as well.
Enjoy all things country?
Don't miss a story! Sign up for daily stories delivered to your inbox.