Turnpike Troubadours Song Tournament: Day III

TurnpikeDay3by: Thomas D. Mooney and Ryan Heape
Editor-in-Chief and Associate Editor

Below, you’ll find the results and commentary on the second round. We’ll post the results of the next round  tomorrow. For more information on how exactly we came to these results, check our Day I post here as well as the first round results and commentary here.

Normal Street

1) Good Lord Lorrie 20 Votes
5) Easton & Main 5 Votes

3) Bossier City 4 Votes
2) 1968 21 Votes

We’ve reached the point of no return now. “Good Lord Lorrie” and “1968” each advanced easily to the Elite Eight just to face off in a battle of Turnpike’s best mid-tempo burners. This agonizes me. Both of these songs are the most complex and wordy of barroom tunes. They have their own mythologies and vernaculars, and are filled with classic Felker throwaway lines that take small stabs at deeper truths. For example, on “Good Lord Lorrie” (where he’s found himself once again loving a girl he can’t have due to social politics, the poor guy), he chalks up loneliness as “just another phase of bein’ free.” On “1968” he distracts us from the song’s narrative with imagery: “There’s just two times a day like this/ya find that sort of blissfulness/the sun it sets and rises in the morn.” Then he rhymes that with: “Just shakin’ like the day that I was born.” I should mention that these are also a couple of Turnpike’s catchiest drinking songs in the repertoire. To our voters: Good luck, we’re all counting on you.

R.I.P. “Easton & Main” (5 votes out of 25 possible) and “Bossier City” (4 votes) from the debut record. Also a couple of Turnpike’s catchiest drinking songs in the repertoire. Remind me to go to Cain’s Ballroom repeatedly before I die.

-Ryan Heape

Morgan Street

1) Whole Damn Town 17 Votes
5) Empty As a Drum 8 Votes

3) The Funeral 18 Votes
2) Long Hot Summer Days 7 Votes

It was always going to be interesting to see how far “Long Hot Summer Days” would go in this bracket. It was a fairly unlikely hit, taking Texas radio stations by storm in the summer of 2011, a year after Diamonds & Gasoline dropped and changed the game. Like many Turnpike joints, “Long Hot Summer Days” sounds simultaneously sixty years old and brand new. It’s about dock workers, or something, but mostly this was a song meant for the sole purpose of blasting from a cooler stereo while floating down the Guadalupe on tubes. With that instantly recognizable fiddle melody and that boot stomp, this song could’ve been titled, “Let’s Get White People Sunburnt And Blacked Out By 3 PM.”

It’s sad to see “LHSD” go, but it’s eliminated at the expense of “The Funeral.” There’s a reason why Turnpike often opens their live set with this song, and I suspect a lot of it has to do with Evan Felker getting to say “counterfeit James Dean” just to let you know what’s up early on. That’s one of his best lines, and “The Funeral” is one of his best tunes.

“Empty As A Drum” was drummed (pun) by “Whole Damn Town,” sadly but rightfully. “Empty” is one of my favorites from Goodbye Normal Street, but as far as I’m concerned, “Whole Damn Town” was a final four lock and was never going to sweat the Cinderellas (basketball/fairy tale reference).

-Ryan Heape

Easton Street

1) Every Girl 15 Votes
5) Gone Gone Gone 10 Votes

6) Shreveport 11 Votes
2) Diamonds & Gasoline 14 Votes

I was pulling for the upset. “Gone Gone Gone” is still in my opinion, the most underrated song on Goodbye Normal Street. I feel we find Felker at his most poignant and vulnerable. There’s two lines in particular that just carry so much weight: ” “Love is a mean, hateful business sometimes” and “Love is a cold institution sometimes.” “Every Girl” is just a staple of the Turnpike Troubadours repertoire though–and it nearly was beat. I think it’s definitely the most vulnerable of the 1 seeds. Very well could fall the next round. 

In the closest match-up this round (Easton Street was the closest region overall), “Diamonds & Gasoline” narrowly edged out “Shreveport.” The storyteller lost to the hopeless romantic. It’s once again, an intimate Felker. And really, I feel that though you’d first believe he’s speaking to a girl, I feel it’s more as thought Felker is having a talk with himself before actually speaking with “the girl.” He’s weighing the pros and cons, collecting his thoughts, seeking the courage to make a decision. Whichever it is–settle down or ramble on–it’s going to be hard to tell whoever it is. 

-Thomas D. Mooney

Main Street

1) 7&7 20 Votes
4 Down on Washington 5 Votes

3) Before the Devil Knows We’re Dead 15 Votes
2) Gin Smoke Lies 10 Votes 

“How do I find that old familiar feeling? The one that carried me so many years ago. Fun was dominos and 7Up and Seagrams. Things were simple then, just moving nice and slow.” That’s the Turnpike Troubadours sound wrapped up in a few simple lines. It’s this old familiar sound that has a somewhat nostalgic ambiance to it. And in many ways, “7&7” and “Down on Washington” are one in the same, written from the same scrap of cloth. “7&7” just seems to be the wiser, older brother. When it comes down to it, the right song won. With “Down on Washington” going down though, we lose one of Felker’s best secretly awesome lines: “Got a brand new high and lonesome. It’s a bad dream coming true.” 

“Gin Smoke Lies” is just magical. That drum beat going on for what feels like days isn’t just eerie, it’s just sets the stage for the entire song and Goodbye Normal Street in general. It’s just the band throwing out piles of dried out logs. Felker comes in with his banjo while Nix his fiddle, calmly dousing everything in kerosene. And that’s the song that narrowly was beaten. And I think what gives “Before the Devil Knows We’re Dead” the edge, is that Felker and Nix come in ready to torch everything with their play–Nix especially. Reckless abandon. Once again, Felker and company marry the sounds of Old Crow Medicine Show and Oklahoma bred singer-songwriter, Garth Brooks. You hear it when things slow down and Felker sings “Well I’m 28 years old now. I was born in ’84. And I’ve been as free I can be and I won’t ask for anymore.” that parallels Brooks’ “Much Too Young” in many respects (perhaps thrown over “Callin Baton Rouge’s sped up melody).

-Thomas D. Mooney 

Tomorrow’s Match-Ups

Normal Street

1) Good Lord Lorrie
2) 1968

Morgan Street

1) Whole Damn Town
3) The Funeral

Easton Street

1) Every Girl
2) Diamonds & Gasoline

Main Street

1) 7&7
3) Before the Devil Knows We’re Dead


3 responses to “Turnpike Troubadours Song Tournament: Day III


  2. Pingback: Turnpike Troubadours Song Tournament: Day V: The Final Four | New Slang·

  3. Pingback: Turnpike Troubadours Song Tournament: Day VI: Final | New Slang·

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