Dirty River Boys Song Tournament: Day IV

DRB_round_4 copyby: Thomas D. Mooney

Below, you’ll find the results and commentary on the Elite Eight. 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 hereas well as our first round results here Sweet Sixteen results here.

As a reminder, songs are seeded primarily based on popularity and voted on by how great we feel the song is. If we seeded the songs by greatness, then obviously there wouldn’t be a need for a tournament. That fact is essential.

The Sunset Limited

1) Boomtown- 15 Votes
2) Draw- 10 Votes

“Boomtown” is just straight up roots music. You’re transported to the Badlands of the Dakotas. Maybe the high plains. Somewhere on the Appalachian Trail. And I’m not kidding, had this song came out before 2004, it’d had been my personal mission to get this as the theme song for Deadwood (If you don’t know about Deadwood, then right after you finish reading this column, go to your HBOGo account, borrow the DVDs, etc and begin watching). What “Boomtown” is essentially about is the optimism of Manifest destiny. Go west young man! The fiddle perfectly ascents the mandolin throughout the song as Cooper sings about gold, whiskey, outlaws, and ramblers. One of the best individual lines in “Boomtown” is “She holds the soothing sense of whiskey. And it burns, it burns like the sun that’s in her eyes.” A perfect comparison (and simile).

City of New Orleans

1) Six Riders- 12 Votes
3) So Long Elaine- 13 Votes

I must say, just as the voters felt, this was easily the most difficult match-up this round. These two songs are two of my favorites as well. In another round, you find a heartbreak vs. outlaw romanticism match-up. While I personally voted for “So Long Elaine,” you wouldn’t have found me arguing that “So Long Elaine” losing to it was a travesty. When it comes down to it, I just can’t get over the second verse.

So pick up your wings,
And fly high just like I know you’ve wanted to
Through the seasons
This Y in the road, 
If It leads me to your door
I’ll follow you
I have my reasons.

It almost feels as though it’s a prequel to “Girl From North Country” by Bob Dylan, sounding more so like the Nashville Skyline version, not the Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan version. The calm in Cooper’s croon is remarkable–and it very well could be the most pleasant and soothing sounding song in the DRB catalog. The combination of Cooper’s voice and the mandolin creates this strange mixed feeling. it’s relaxed, but there’s this uneasiness knowing what just happened in the song.

And a bonus note: As the votes were coming in, “Six Riders” took an early lead going up 11-7 (You need 13 to win) before rallying late to take the victory.

California Zephyr

1) Carnival Lights- 20 Votes
2) My Son- 5 Votes

There’s a reason “Carnival Lights” has over 28,000 plays on Spotify. It’s popular yes, but it’s not without reason. “My Son” has had a really good run making up to the Elite Eight level. I don’t think many would have guessed it’d make it this far before seeing the Official Bracket. When it comes down to it, “Carnival Lights” is the better song. It has more cooler moments on it. You can almost say this about each DRB song, but it’s especially true in “Carnival Lights.” Great introductions start off with either Cooper or Gutierrez (Gutierrez in this case) strumming their guitars and singing a line or two of the song before Stearns really makes his presence known. He’s typically there the entire time though. He’s just playing so subtly, you barely notice. For instance, here, you’ll hear some tambourine. After those first few moments though, Stearns turns into Animal on the cajon. With “Carnival Lights,” it’s right after “Thinking it ain’t such a long way down. Failure’s such a long cold fall.” During the slow parts–and in storytelling–it’s very “Methamphetamine” by Old Crow Medicine Show.

Tex-Mex Express

1) Union Painter- 20 Votes
2) Road Song- 5 Votes

“Union Painter” is very much the same as “Carnival Lights” in how it builds up. As I said yesterday, it’s Cooper at his best. He transforms himself into someone else during this five minutes. What I find best about “Union Painter” is when the chorus comes in, it becomes a three-part harmony that’s very reminiscent of one of the traditionals you’d hear in O Brother Where Art Thou? (Maybe not exactly Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, and Gillian Welch did on “Didn’t Leave Nobody But the Baby” but certainly close enough.) Something telling in the song–and possibly the reason why it’s so great–is that Cooper mentioned his lonesomeness many times over. He’s a man of constant loneliness. But, almost every time he mentions being alone, Gutierrez is singing along with him. “On my way to Nevada, well I broke myself down,” Here I’ve been stranded five years in this town” and “And I’m surrounded by others, but I’m always alone” are just three examples. Then of course, he’s never alone on the chorus. Now I have no idea if that was done purposely, but hell, I wouldn’t be surprised either way.

Tomorrow’s Match-ups

1) Boomtown
3) So Long Elaine

1) Carnival Lights
1) Union Painter


2 responses to “Dirty River Boys Song Tournament: Day IV

  1. Pingback: Dirty River Boys Song Tournament: Day V | New Slang·

  2. Pingback: Dirty River Boys Song Tournament: Day V: Final | New Slang·

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