Ryan Bingham – “Country Roads”
1. I remember visiting the Lost Highway site in 2006 and happening upon three videos of Ryan Bingham. It all seemed a bit too perfect – how they had managed to find this troubadour with a hazy backstory that involved drifting through the southwest, spending time at the rodeo, and finally finding success out in Los Angeles. If Ryan had released “Country Roads” as his first single, my suspicions of one big marketing ploy might have felt more valid. This breezy harmonica-aided traveling song lays out Bingham’s manifesto: all the things he will and won’t do, where he has been and where he is going.
2. Producer Marc Ford doesn’t pull anything surprising here, mining more folky territory than the electric edge that has permeated much of Bingham’s uptempo tunes. Corby Schaub continues to prove his mettle on the mandolin, and the track skips along like a truck rattling down Highway 87, with the curious hints of jangly British guitar that also show up on “Dylan’s Hard Rain” and “Bluebird”.
3. Ryan has said in interviews that this is one of his older songs. Lyrics like “I might’ve took a few wrong turns/ Down a few wrong roads” and “I know I’ll never stick around/ I’ll never lose track of time” show a young man coming to terms with the life he has lived and the life he has yet to live. That said, Bingham isn’t trying to convince himself that he has taken the right path – his resolve is what makes the song work. Seeing Ryan live, the most striking thing is that he is exactly who his press biography says he is. This song furthers the idea that true authenticity is the best marketing ploy of all.
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