#782: 2013, Kacey Musgraves, Merry Go Round

by Charlie_East_West on October 21, 2013

After reading a lot of great reviews about new country singer/songwriter Kacey Musgraves’ debut album Same Trailer, Different Park – I finally took the plunge and bought the album. I was worried that it would sound like Taylor Swift and fall towards that awful place to be – middle of the road pointlessness. But, I have been proved wrong.

The secret to Kacey Musgraves’ success lies in the lyrics. The whole album offers a storybook on the plight of mid America, and the sense of drift affecting millions people with broken dreams, pent up resentment and individual cries for help. It is hard hitting stuff – and therefore, in a different place lyrically from the insipid songs rustled up from the likes of Taylor Swift.

The arrangements of her music are a million miles away from her lyrics. Her playful and innocent sounding vocals, combined with the use of melodic banjos and pianos give the impression of a sugar coated song. This immediate impression changes when you listen to her lyrics – which are anything but sugar and sweet, but instead, very bittersweet.

These observational lyrics give a depressingly frank account of the harsh realities of life. It is all encapsulated within Musgraves’ debut single Merry Go Round – which focuses on a caustic appraisal of small town life somewhere, anywhere in America. The words resonate – because they also apply in this country as well. It’s a song about running out of choices and feeling trapped by the restrictions within a small town. The lyrics paint a bittersweet and inconvenient truth about getting stuck in a provincial rut:-

If you ain’t got two kids by 21,
You’re probably gonna die alone
At least that’s what tradition told you.

And it don’t matter if you don’t believe,
Come Sunday morning you best be there
In the front row, like you’re s’posed to.

Same hurt in every heart.
Same trailer, different park.

Mamas hooked on Mary Kay
Brothers hooked on Mary Jane

And Daddy’s hooked on Mary two doors down.

Mary Mary quite contrary,
We get bored so we get married
And just like dust we settle in this town.
On this broken merry go ’round and ’round and ’round we go,
Where it stops nobody knows…
And it ain’t slowin’ down, this merry go ’round…

We think the first time’s good enough,
So we hold on to high school love,
Say we won’t end up like our parents.

Tiny little boxes in a row,
Ain’t what you want it’s what you know,
Just happy in the shoes you’re wearin’.

Same checks we’re always cashin’,
To buy a little more distraction.

Mary Mary quite contrary,
We’re so bored until we’re buried.
And just like dust we settle in this town.
On this broken merry go ’round…
Merry go ’round…

Jack and Jill went up the hill,
Jack burned out on booze and pills,
And Mary had a little lamb,
Mary just don’t give a damn no more.

Bruce Springsteen has been singing about the American broken dream for years. Kacey Musgraves is now doing the same within a different genre. There’s more than one way to skin a cat. Same trailer, different park.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Killingworth October 22, 2013 at 8:06 am

OK, but hardly fit to be mentioned in the same breath as Springsteen.

I’m sure I’ve plugged this lass before (if not, mea maxima culpa:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Shr47LVcA5I

The best female singer-songwriter from across the pond since her namesake?

Reply

Charlie_East_West October 22, 2013 at 8:16 am

Mike – I agree with that. Both Mitchell’s are brilliant singer-songwriters.

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