MARIE: “Brown Haired Daughter” starts this train a-rolling in classic Old 97’s fashion with a steady shuffle beat and sorrowful guitar lick. My body may follow the beat of the rhythm line, but I am a lyrics gal at heart and no one pens lyrics like Rhett Miller. In classic Rhett fashion, there are layers in this one-sided conversation. It’s never crystal clear what’s going on. Are they modern-day, Romeo and Juliet star-crossed lovers in which the girl’s father wants this rogue suitor out of the picture, or is something darker going on? Has the father paid him to stay away, only to have his plan backfire?
And I tried to leave it all alone
send your brown-haired daughter home
but I can’t
so I won’t
and you ought to hear my heart curse
It’s strange how we are
so safe until we’re sorry
on a dime
on a dare
and it’s not my fault she loves me
Only the big brain of Mr. Miller knows for sure. The romantic in me likes either scenario. The music lover in me can’t get this tune out of her pointy little head.
STEPHANIE: One thing I love about rock and roll is how young it makes me feel. Listening to “Brown Haired Daughter” was akin to having my head submerged in the fountain of angst-ridden youth. In this song, the bad boy tells good girl’s father that he’s not going anywhere, even though he seems unsure of his own worth. “It’s not my fault she loves me.” That vulnerability is the essence of the bad boy appeal. The father’s disapproval heightens the seductiveness of the relationship. These lyrics are delightfully painful for any emotional masochist out there. The well-adjusted will like this song too, but they might keep an extra-watchful eye on their daughters.
JEFF: “Brown Haired Daughter” shares a name — and a chorus — with a Murry song that was demoed back in the Fight Songs era. Interestingly, it also shares a haunting quality with a song with a similar pedigree — “My Two Feet.” Some will call me crazy and not see the similarity, but that’s okay. It’s a bold start to a strong album, one that showcases how powerful it can be when Rhett & co. fully embrace the country side of the band’s oeuvre. I think this one’s destined to be a fan favorite. Easily one of my favorite songs on TGTV2.
MURRY (look to Rhett’s left): Well I’ll throw in my two cents here. BHD was yet another tune that I struggled so hard with the words, and for so long, I finally handed the whole thing to Rhett to see if he could make any sense of it. Rhett changed the verse vocal melody a bit and nailed the lyrics overall and doing so not only saved the song he shined it up enough to be a contender for the lead-off track. Exact same thing happened with “Timebomb” in ’96 – tune=great, lyrics=terrible (Timebomb’s original title was “Outside of Woodstock” and had lyrics that actually mentioned “laundry”. Again=Terrible.) Songwriters out there know my frustration — ya got a good tune but… the words just won’t come. Yes Jeff, it was actually intended for Fight Songs. Frustrating early on… but definitely worth the wait, for me. And btw Marie… I am that rogue suitor. Ha!