Song Review – Tyler Childers – “They Oughta Name a Drink After You”

As highly revered as Tyler Childers is throughout the country music world, he’s not exactly known for his beer-soaked honky tonk tearjerkers. Then again, neither is John Prine. Childers is more a creature of the Kentucky hills and hollers, having to do much more with Appalachian folk, and the sun setting over his native coal country. And though he wrote quite a few country standards (“You Never Even Called Me By My Name” for one), John Prine isn’t exactly the kind for cowboy shit kickers either.

But over a year past Prine’s death, and over a year since we’ve heard any new recordings from Tyler Childers, the pair has collaborated to bestow us all with this new version of John Prine’s rather obscure, but well-loved whiskey swiller “Yes I Guess They Oughta Name a Drink After You.”

The song and its fiddle start off originally appeared on John Prine’s sophomore studio release Diamonds in the Rough from 1972. Coming in at barely over 2 minutes, you can tell this is one of those songs Prine wrote as a silly premise for a country song, but didn’t see enough value in it that he wanted us to take it too seriously. That’s why he made the title nearly as long as the song.

Tyler Childers and his Foodstamps take this kernel and premise of a country song, and presuppose it could have been a big hit in the 70’s if shown proper regard. Childers sings it in the original key, which initially seems a little high for him. And then to help elongate the track by some 40 seconds over the original, Tyler actually modulates it to a key even higher at about the halfway point, along with adding a piano solo. This higher register is where the emotion of Tyler Childers is often best rendered, and such is the case for this tribute song.

Embracing and the cliché nature of what is otherwise an excellent country song, switching out some honky tonk piano at the start and then revisiting the fiddle start off later in the song allows Childers to smear his own DNA on the track, while still being respectful to the original composition. The ultimate result is something that nobody requested, but we all might now deem as essential for our musical diets.

The Tyler Childers version of “Yes I Guess They Oughta Name a Drink After You” comes from the John Prine compilation Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: Songs of John Prine, Vol. 2 out on October 8th. Sturgill Simpson has covered “Paradise,” and Brandi Carlile contributed “I Remember Everything” for the comp as well, though no track list for the 12-song album has been revealed so far. The first volume was released in 2010.

Two Guns Up (9/10)

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