Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, “Straight To Hell”

Georgia’s Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ derived its name from the two general categories into which their songs tend to fall. “Straight To Hell,” the band’s wonderfully woeful track from 1989’s Mystery Road, certainly falls closer to the “cryin’” part of the equation. But it rises above your typical tears-in-your-beer song thanks to the telling details, the sly sense of humor, and the idiosyncrasy of the narrator’s tale.

In a 2014 interview with Al.com, Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ frontman and songwriter Kevn Kinney explained the impetus for “Straight To Hell.” “It's just about a latchkey kid whose mother is dating and they have different rules,” Kinney said. “It's got a little bit of 'Romeo and Juliet' to it, but it's mostly about my sister's life, but it's also about everybody's life, that's why I think people identify so much with it. There were a lot of single parents at that time. Divorce was kind of new back then and that happened to a lot of kids.”

That mixture of memory play and homage is what makes “Straight To Hell” such a unique story song. Over a folky rumble from the band, Kinney sets up the tale he’s about to tell with a brilliant opening: “I grew up just west of the tracks/ Holding me to hold me back.” He then makes clear his mother’s wayward ways: “She said, ‘Son won’t you go outside/ I’ve got a man coming over tonight/ The seventh one in seven days.’”

Like the character he plays might flaunt authority, Kinney plays fast and loose with the rhyme scheme as the song progresses. The protagonist stays out all hours of the night and runs afoul of his mother’s double... Sign In to Keep Reading

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