Charley Crockett delivers “Run Horse Run,” a dynamic link between two American pastimes – racing horses and live music entertainment. His accompanying music video brings this arcane connection to life through the eyes of a rugged troubadour. It follows him on a solo journey through isolated landscapes in the midwestern wilderness. The visualizer is part of a cinematic series that will unfold over the month.
“Run Horse Run” works in tandem with the title-track lead single to introduce his forthcoming collection, Welcome To Hard Times. Crockett’s eighth studio album is due July 31 via Thirty Tigers.
“Recording artists and entertainers are looked at like racehorses by a lot of folks in this business,” Crockett offered of the title. “I don’t mean that as a criticism of their point of view,” he clarified, “that’s just the way it is. If you’d like to better understand our society, you ought to take a look at horse racing. I remember seeing the races at Louisiana Downs in Harrah’s Casino when I was a kid in New Orleans.”
Sonically, the song stirs up nostalgia for old-time country traditions, but his lyrical twists expel the out-dated ideas and exclusion that some country music continues to perpetuate. Crockett is ethnically diverse and takes a particular interest in the recent protests spawning from centuries of injustice. Charley’s Grandmother on his Dad’s side was Creole and biracial, with black and white parents. Charley also has Jewish heritage.
Recently, he used Instagram to share thoughts from his unique position, on the fixation and confusion around his racial identity, as well as supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement: “Though I’ve benefited greatly from my whiteness, I have never fully identified with any race. So I’ve lived as an outcast at war with myself in a society that I both love and hate at the same time. My music tells this story. If you don’t know how race or class affects experience, it’s the first sign of privilege.”
Crockett embraces an identity that is wildly his own. Open dialogue about his rap sheet as a twice-convicted felon, due to familial mayhem, and a childhood spent in poverty, often resorting to sleeping in the streets of New Orleans. He busked his way up from the bayou to New York City, where he learned to captivate a crowd, performing in the Subway. He has continued to hone his sound and utilize his voice to tell the story for those whose perspective is discredited by society.
Last year, his progress came to an abrupt halt when he almost lost his life to Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. The diagnosis left the artist with a congenital heart condition, which, combined with aortic valve disease, sent him immediately into open-heart surgery.
Hardened by the experienced he’s squeezed into a half-life, the artist feels this record is his calling to change the conversation around country music. With the imagination of producer Mark Neil and co-writing input from Dan Auerbach and Pat McLaughlin, Crockett manages to fill the shoes of outlaws, prisoners, and gamblers through 12 heartbreaking originals and one covered track. The characters are a thematic fit, meant to represent the marginalized folks this country continues to turn their backs on.
Producer, Mark Neil’s reaction to Crockett’s songwriting was immediate and imaginative. “‘This is a movie,” he responded. “We have to tell this story.” Between Neil’s desire to make “a dark gothic country record” and Crockett’s inventive perspective following a life-saving surgery, Welcome To Hard Times is the record that alt-country has been waiting for.
Watch the video for “Run Horse Run” below and keep an eye out for the next ‘episode.’