Watch: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit Perform an Extended Version of “King of Oklahoma” on ‘Austin City Limits’

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit return to PBS’ Austin City Limits for the third time this week. Watch them perform an extended version of “King of Oklahoma” from Weathervanes below.

Videos by American Songwriter

The first half of the 49th season of Austin City Limits is coming to a close. Next week, Foo Fighters will close out the first half.

[RELATED: Revisit Willie Nelson’s Lively ‘Austin City Limits’ Debut]

While local airtimes of Austin City Limits vary across the country, the show has released two songs from the live set so far: “Save the World” and “King of Oklahoma.” Both songs—like most of this week’s set—are from the band’s acclaimed 2023 album Weathervanes.

“King of Oklahoma” sees Isbell flexing his character-driven writing prowess. At the same time, it shows an understanding of how an unfortunate series of events can lead someone to opioid addiction.

The song’s protagonist starts as a construction worker who “has it made.” Then, he sustains an on-the-job injury. In just a few lines, Isbell is able to tell a story that is all too familiar to too many people: Doctor took a quick look and I got out the checkbook / Left with a pocket full of pills / Now my back’s still hurtin’ and I’m too weak for workin’ / And I can’t keep up with all the bills.

More than being addicted to opioids, the protagonist has decided to turn to crime to make ends meet. After a failed heist, his wife is ready to take the kids and walk away.

Overall, the song is a beautiful yet heartbreaking examination of how quickly America’s opioid epidemic can creep into homes and destroy lives and families.

In the video below, the band delivers a polished performance of the song. The extended version leaves the listener with more time to contemplate the story. Additionally, it gives audiences the chance to watch Isbell and 400 Unit guitarist Sadler Vaden perform an incredible dueling solo to close the song.

Check local listings for day and time to watch this week’s Austin City Limits. Additionally, the show will stream on the PBS app. The performance will also be available to view immediately after it airs on the PBS website.

Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Americana Music Association

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