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Screw Keith Urban and that dead, rotting chupacabra of a haircut he has perched on the top of his head. They should rub his naked, Playgirl-posing body down in seal blubber, tie a water bottle to his ankle, and see if he can swim his ass back to his native New Zealand for the high crime of domestic terrorism and country music sacrilege this song perpetrates. The pronouncement of a new Keith Urban single lately has been similar to the pronouncement by your oncologist that you have Stage IV inoperable colorectal Cancer, except you don’t even get medical marijuana or goodie bag of Hospice opiates to dumb the excruciating pain the world is about to rain down upon your poor, withering corpus.
Somehow, inexplicably, Keith Urban has figured out how to take the most iconic guitar riff in the entire 70+ year history of country music, and make it sound like the last dying gasps of a faulty smoke detector smacked repeatedly with a sledge hammer, and slowly drowning it in a bucket of 7-year-old used motor oil in someone’s garage. The generically-titled “Coming Home” downright filches the opening riff from one of the sainted Merle Haggard’s signature songs, “Mama Tried,” and spectacularly fails to flesh out anything around it that’s even close to fit for audio consumption by even the most idiotic of indolent and stupefied audiences rendered opinion-less by a cocktail of over-prescribed American designer drugs.
“Coming Home” is supposed to be about home sickness and a yearning for simplicity. The lyrics and video allude to someone lost in the impersonal feel of a concrete cityscape, and pining for the familiarity of the green and genteel country life. Yet the shitty production of this song is about as busy and disjointed as the scene surrounding a fatality accident within a construction zone smack dab in the middle of an urban cloverleaf traffic-snarled clusterfuck during the utmost peak of rush hour with quarter-sized hail raining down from a supercell that a tornado warning has just been issued for.
Unfortunately Merle Haggard isn’t around to put his boot on Keith Urban’s throat while the original lineup of his backing band The Strangers takes turns extinguishing their unfiltered Camel cigarettes on Urban’s scrotum. Not to endorse or condone any form of violence against anyone mind you, but shit, “Coming Home” comes at your poor little ears like a mugger darting out of the bushes at your friendly, neighborhood park at dusk. A few seconds into this thing, and you start praying a serial bomber will infiltrate your quiet little bedroom community and detonate an incendiary device near you simply so the temporary hearing loss will alleviate the sheer pain of having to endure even a 30-second iTunes sample of this audio monstrosity.
And once again we have another pop collaboration from a male country artist, as Julia Michaels lends her voice to this underwear skid mark of a song. But why can’t we have a country music woman benefit from the added revenue and exposure of a big radio hit as opposed to advertising someone from the other side of the radio dial? Actually strike that, all the women in country have too much self-respect to be involved in this shit, even the pixie-sprinkled Kelsea Ballerini. And what does Julia Michaels do in “Coming Home”? She repeats the same exact line four stupid times in a row. Seriously, you can’t come up with any sort of arc for the bridge of this song?
This underscores the woefully-generic effort with lyrics of “Coming Home,” through frankly this is par for the course for today’s mainstream country. It’s the way that the poor, dying, electronified shell of an authentic, human-played Merle Haggard riff pursues you like a puma chasing you down in a nightmare that makes this song historically unbearable, almost mocking your traditional country leanings as opposed to appealing to them as Urban is of course out there conveying it should.
If there is any positivity to come out of this abomination, it’s that the Merle estate will receive a few royalties because of the riff’s inclusion. But it’s money dripping with the blood of what country music once was before scoundrels like Urban proceeded to slaughter it. We know Merle Haggard hated this kind of shit, specifically calling it out on many occasions, saying “I don’t find no substance. I don’t find anything you can whistle and nobody even attempts to write a melody. It’s more of that kids stuff…” And since he’s not around anymore to defend himself, it’s up to us to stiffen our upper lips, steal our resolve, and let folks know if they’re going to electronically transomgrify the efforts of Merle Haggard into objectionable filth to attempt to make up for the fact that they’re completely bereft of original ideas, they’re walking on the fightin’ side of us.
For the first time since Merle Haggard passed away in 2016, I’m glad he’s gone, so he doesn’t have to hear this. Yeah, fuck this song.