Aisha Golliher

Rooted in Country: Melissa Carper on Hank Williams' 'Ramblin' Man'

Listening to Melissa Carper's new album Daddy's Country Gold (out March 19) is like stepping into an American Legion on honky tonk night. The plucky, sweet-as-cherry-pie love song "Old Fashioned Gal" conjures up images of couples twirling on a scuffed dance floor, while the yearning "Back When" is a neon-lit heartbreaker for lonely folks sitting in a dark corner, nursing a longneck.

Daddy's Country Gold is more than an homage to classic country; it's a living, breathing, tear-soaked collection of future jukebox classics.

Carper, a founding member of The Carper Family and member of Arkansas four-piece Sad Daddy and roots duo Buffalo Gals, earned the nickname "Daddy" from her bandmates for her ability to "take care of 'bidness'."

As a child, the singer-songwriter and bassist would lay her head underneath the family record player listening to Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash and more classics from her parents' collection.

But Carper says no song has had a greater impact on her than Hank Williams' timeless "Ramblin' Man."

"It's hard to just pick just one country song that inspired and shaped me. I sure did love Hank Williams when I was little and I listened to him over and over on the family record player," Carper tells Wide Open Country. "I related to his sad love songs as I experienced unrequited love for the first time at the ripe old age of 8 or 9.  It was hard then and always has been. 'Ramblin' Man' is the story of my life; I have a wild streak and can't seem to ever settle down anywhere for long.  I remember singing that song busking in my early 20's and trying to throw those high notes across the street to get people's attention.  There is such a longing in his voice, just one long note seemed to possess so much pain. 'Ramblin' Man' sure is lonesome and —'if I didn't go, I believe I'd blow my stack' — I feel that way when it's time for me to get away by myself and go on a road trip, or when it's time to move to another town.  I always have kept that song in my repertoire and sometimes when I sing it, it feels spooky, like Hank's there."

Daddy's Country Gold was co-produced by Dennis Crouch (The Time Jumpers) and Andrija Tokic (Alabama Shakes, Hurray for the Riff Raff).

The album is available for purchase here.


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