Song Review – Sunny Sweeney’s “Bottle By My Bed”

Photo: Christina Feddersen
Photo: Christina Feddersen

We often believe that our favorite music artists have all the luck. They get to stand on stage and play the star, traveling the country and world doing what they love, always getting the girls (or guys), while the rest of us are stuck at home living boring lives. The truth is unless you’re selling out larger venues—or even if you are—the rigors of being a musician and the sacrifices you must make, specifically when it comes to family, and especially when it comes to females, is something that frankly most of us are unwilling to endure. This is why there are many who harbor musical dreams, but so few who possess the willingness for sacrifice to pursue them. So we follow along with are favorite artists and try to live the dream through them, vicariously.

But we choose to filter out the seven-hour drives in smelly vans, or the Super 8 motel stops, or the delay so many musicians must make when starting a family, if they can have a family at all with the obligations music requires of them.

Sunny Sweeney has pursued the musical dream her whole life. She’s seen it from the top when she was one of the first signees to the massive Big Machine Records in Nashville, to now coming home to Texas to put herself back in control of her own music and message. Sunny Sweeney delivers her latest album Trophy on March 10th, and ahead of it she’s released a touching and revealing single called “Bottle By My Bed.” No, this is not a whiskey lullaby. This bottle is a hypothetical one for the baby that Sunny Sweeny pines for.

“Bottle By My Bed” is the type of song that Music Row in Nashville gets its hands on and figures out how to screw up. So many song ideas start with an excellent germ of inspiration drawn from actual events. But through the songwriting committee process, the emotional brunt is “softened,” and that inspiration gets slowly sifted out. Lucky for us, Sunny Sweeney, who wrote the song with Lori McKenna (who happens to be on fire at the moment), stayed away from all the usual commercial songwriting norms of scrubbing the specifics out of a song until the impact of the message loses its potency and is pallid enough for the simplified palette of the musical masses, and they shied away from getting too sappy to the point of making the message mawkish.

“I don’t even know you yet, but I know I love you,” Sweeney sings in such a specified honesty that its hard to handle, and hard to not believe. It’s lines like this that even if you do have kids, or find yourself on the opposite side of the gene pool from being able to bear children, you can still put yourself in those shoes, and feel the yearning that is hardwired into the human experience to procreate, and love.

And even though at times in Sunny Sweeney’s career, including after the Big Machine Era, she’s subscribed to the Texas country style of music—meaning being a little more open to allowing a little pop and a little rock into your sound—“Bottle By My Bed” is stone country, with fiddle and steel guitar really helping to draw you in, and drawing the emotion out of the composition that Sweeney sings with a first-person passion.

“Bottle By My Bed” comes from the lineage of strong country music voices singing from the female perspective, but in a way that creates a broad audience from expounding on a universal truth, and from a perspective conducive to empathy.

Two guns up.

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