Ryan Bingham Song Tournament: Day VII Sweet Sixteen


Photos Courtesy of the Artist

Photos Courtesy of the Artist

by: Thomas D. Mooney

The last few days we’ve been covering the Second Round of the Ryan Bingham Song Tournament. We’re on to the Sweet Sixteen in our Ryan Bingham Song Tournament.

Note: Just to avoid any confusion on how Artist Song Tournaments are done, they’re ranked/seeded by what we deem as most popular (and most known) to least popular (and least known). That’s the driving force in how songs get seeded. When it comes to bracket match-ups though, they are decided on which song we think is better (Based on lyrics, melody, instrumentation, and overall greatness). If we didn’t do it this way, there really wouldn’t be a point in doing the tournament. This is the most vital and important information you must understand to fully comprehend ASTs. 

Tuesday: 16 vs 17 Seeds
Wednesday: First Round of Sangre de Cristo Region
Thursday: First Round of Devil’s Backbone Region
Friday: First Round of Cowboys in Mexico Region
Monday: First Round of Hippies in Austin Region
Thursday: Second Round of Sangre de Cristo and Devil’s Backbone Regions
Tuesday: Second Round of Hippies in Austin and Cowboys in Mexico Regions
Thursday: Sweet Sixteen Match-ups All Regions (Today)


Sangre de Cristo Region

1. Southside of Heaven
4. Country Roads

Winner: Southside of Heaven

3. The Poet
10. Self-Righteous Wall

Winner: The Poet

Ah. So finally, for the first time in this tournament, “Southside of Heaven” has a comparable opponent. “Country Roads” isn’t winning this match-up, but it’s truly the first time we’re actually thinking about it. That’s no snide remark towards 16 seed “The Highway” or 9 seed “Flower Bomb,” but they were obviously a couple of tiers lower than SoH. The subtle dark humor in the chorus sums up what you were going to find in Mescalito–and Bingham in general: But on the south side of heaven wont you take me home cuz I’ve been broke down in Texas so long it’s getting cold.” The mandolin in “Country Roads” is probably the best of any Bingham song. Best part of “Country Roads” is just the fact that Bingham’s in “No Fucks Were Given” mode. It’s most apparent in “I’ll never give up on change or give a damn if you will ever miss me.” Could you see “Country Roads” in the Elite Eight? Sure. Just not over SOF. 

This match-up of Junky Star songs has two of Bingham’s best overall images. One being “The Poet’s” “out to the backThe poet writes his songs in blood” and “Self-Righteous Wall’s” “You’re tellin’ me I’ve lost it all? You’re tellin’ me I’ve hit the wall?” When it comes down to it, it’s a battle of those two things. The poet writing his songs in blood is just too powerful to pass over.

Hippies in Austin

1. The Weary Kind
5. Junky Star

Winner: The Weary Kind

6. Hard Times
2. Sunrise

Winner: Hard Times

I think we really undervalue just how great “The Weary Kind” is. We take it for granted. Had Las Vegas been involved, I guarantee it’d have had the best odds of being upset before the Final Four of the 1 seeds. In ways, it’s Duke. You know it’s a great song, but for whatever reason, people want to root against it. Just go listen to it though. It’s amazing and there’s nothing I can say that’ll make you realize it. “Junky Star” is again, one of those songs that could have been an Elite Eight level song had it been in another region. But really, it feels about time for it to be leaving.

I’m actually a little surprised to see “Hard Times” as a Sweet Sixteen member. Obviously it’s a great song, but so far, it’s not really faced a legitimate contender. Even here with “Sunrise,” it’s not the strongest hard-hitting songs out there. It has some weaknesses. “Hard Times” came up against “Change Is” and “Dollar A Day” in the first two rounds. In the scheme of things, probably songs that fall near the lower-middle in Bingham’s catalog. Good songs, but not great. Marc Ford’s slide guitar work is pretty fucking great. It very well may be the most under-appreciated instrumentation on the record.

Devil’s Backbone

9. Never Far Behind
4. Day Is Done

Winner: Never Far Behind

3. Depression
2. Dylan’s Hard Rain

Winner: Dylan’s Hard Rain

The Devil’s Backbone Region has to be the most difficult region. Whoever comes out will be bloody as hell after all these intense scraps. “Never Far Behind” is the sole Tomorrowland track left in the tournament and for good reason. There’s nothing really comparable to it in the Bingham catalog other than the obvious dark Bingham growl and the lyrical content. It’s actually quite strange seeing it go against “Day Is Done” and knowing they were written by the same artist. “When the day is done, I was born a bad man’s son” just can’t get past.

This is easily, the most difficult match-up to date in the Ryan Bingham Song Tournament. Easily. Either of these two songs could go on to win this whole damn thing and no one would be surprised. They also have probably the two best lines with the word fuck in them by Bingham as well. “Id rather lay down in a pine box then to sell my heart to a fucking wasteland” and “You lost all your money on the corner rollin’ bones. Give him your cash motherfucker, he’s too fast for you.” It’s a shame that “Depression” is going home in the Sweet Sixteen, but that’s just the nature of the beast.

Cowboys in Mexico

1. Hallelujah
5. Other Side

Winner: Hallelujah

14. Rollin’ Highway Blues
15. As I Do My Dancing

Winner: Rollin’ Highway Blues

Welcome to the strangest, region ever. We have a 1, 5, 14, and 15 seed. Other than “Hallelujah,” the other three have either gone against a higher seed (“Until I’m One With You” and “Take It Easy Mama” for “Rollin’ Highway Blues” and “Tell My Mother I Miss Her So” and “Western Shore” for “As I Do My Dancing”) or faced a song (“Best of Me” for “Other Side”) that upset a higher seed. It’s just been a weird region. Other than the powerful “Hallelujah,” there wasn’t anything that just screamed as a true contender. Can we just advance “Other Side” rather than either “Rollin’ Highway Blues” or “As I Do My Dancing?”

It’s striking midnight for Cinderella. Although, not in an extravagant fashion. It’s not being beat in a heartbreaker against “Hallelujah,” “Dylan’s Hard Rain,” “Bread and Water,” or ‘Southside of Heaven.” It’s losing to a song that while severely underrated, probably should be just a Sweet Sixteen song and not an Elite Eight level song in “Rollin’ Highway Blues.”

By The Numbers


Mescalito: 4
Roadhouse Sun: 4
Junky Star: 5
Tomorrowland: 1
Other: 2


Mescalito: 2-2
Roadhouse Sun: 2-2
Junky Star: 2-3
Tomorrowland: 1-0
Other: 1-1

Elite Eight Match-ups

Sangre de Cristo

1. Southside of Heaven
3. The Poet

Hippies in Austin

1. The Weary Kind
6. Hard Times

Devil’s Backbone

9. Never Far Behind
3. Dylan’s Hard Rain

Cowboys in Mexico

1. Hallelujah
14. Rollin’ Highway Blues


3 responses to “Ryan Bingham Song Tournament: Day VII Sweet Sixteen

  1. Ugh! Disappoints me to see the Weary Kind make it this far. I thought the votes are based on quality, not hype…….

  2. Pingback: Ryan Bingham Song Tournament: Day VIII Elite Eight | New Slang·

  3. Pingback: Ryan Bingham Song Tournament: Day IX Final Four | New Slang·

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