Sturgill Simpson Presses 10th Anniversary Edition of “High Top Mountain”
This article has been updated.
Before Metamodern Sounds in Country Music revolutionized country music in the modern context and sent independent country into the stratosphere, before A Sailor’s Guide to Earth won the Grammy Award for Best Country Album and was nominated for Album of the Year right beside Beyonce, Adele, Taylor Swift, and Justin Bieber, there was Sturgill Simpson’s debut album High Top Mountain.
Produced by Dave Cobb and featuring an all-star cast of players like Hall of Famer “Hargus” Pig Robbins, and the “Man of Steel” Robby Turner, it was Sturgill Simpson’s official debut after moving on from his original band Sunday Valley. For many traditional country fans, High Top Mountain is also the album of choice for them from the Sturgill Simpson catalog.
Sturgill wrote the first 10 songs of the album himself, and then covered Ralph Stanley’s “Poor Rambler,” and “I’d Have to Be Crazy” made famous by Willie Nelson. The album started the momentum the would ultimately lead to Sturgill disrupting the mainstream of country in ways we hadn’t seen in the modern era, and set the table for folks like Tyler Childers, Cody Jinks, and Zach Bryan to enjoy the success they’re having today.
It’s hard to believe, but High Top Mountain was released nearly ten years ago, on June 11th, 2013. To celebrate the achievement, Sturgill Simpson announced a limited edition run of the album featured on translucent black vinyl, with a re-imagined cover with a black background. Lo and behold, it sold out virtually immediately.
But you’re in luck. It appears they replenished supplies, and it is now available for pre-order once again. Also Vinyl Me Please will be offering a teal version cut on Coke bottle clear vinyl also being released in June.
Sturgill Simpson has been keeping a low profile lately after saying he would virtually retire after releasing The Ballad of Dood and Juanita in 2021. He has left open the possibility as working as a producer, or perhaps forming a band. But for now folks will just have to feast on his back catalog like High Top Mountain until he re-emerges. Simpson is slated to appear at Willie Nelson’s 90th birthday bash in April.
March 18, 2023 @ 8:55 am
Sorry folks, this sold out initially, but apparently they just upped the supply and it is back in stock at this moment. But if you want a copy, I suggest you snag one, because it’s likely to sell out again. Story has been updated.
Thom’s Country Bunker
March 18, 2023 @ 9:52 am
One of the most frustrating artists you’re ever likely to come upon but this record did for me what Trig says, correctly, it did for the genre. Reinvigorated my love of country. I can’t imagine my life without it. Fortunately, I’m an idiot and have the Vinyl Me Please country subscription. I already have a copy from the first time round but hey, I love it that much…
May 21, 2023 @ 7:17 am
My question is not about what an amazing album High Top Mountain is, but about the VMP subscription.
Been looking through their catalog and kicking around the idea.
March 18, 2023 @ 10:24 am
Still one of my favorite albums of the past 15 years.
Jer in Idaho
March 18, 2023 @ 7:29 pm
I can’t believe you could like Sturgill, Strait. He’s your definition of woke. Didn’t hear him support Black Lives Matter and during his Ryman Covid show? Didn’t hear his interview busking in front of the CMAs where he said he supports the ACLU and wants an America where gay people aren’t dragged behind trucks? Never heard Folded Flag and F them redneck nepotistic white trash MFs?
You know if Jason Isbell said these same things you’d be foaming at the mouth. So what is it Strait? You didn’t know Sturgill after all? Or you just get to invoke your woke triggering arbitrarily?
March 19, 2023 @ 6:17 pm
My grandfather was a huge Sturgill fan, and he was an old school conservative (he was born in 1954). Politics has nothing to do with good ole fashioned music. I’m as right wing as you get and I was listening to Steve Earle an hour ago.
March 20, 2023 @ 6:26 am
Sturgill is your typical cultural turncoat. He wants so badly to be accepted by mainstream culture that he turns his back on where he comes from. But he has to keep those roots as a way to make money since he doesn’t fit the Top 40 model.
He is like most of his kind. They think they are being non-conformist when they dump on country living and values but in actuality they are the biggest conformists because country values aren’t accepted at all by the mainstream.
He has some good songs but his shtick is old.
March 20, 2023 @ 8:15 am
It is also possible that he came to conclusions about what he believes is right and just that have nothing to do with wanting to be accepted by “mainstream culture”. People think, experience, learn and change in ways that they believe to be better and real for them. It’s been happening since the beginning of humanity.
March 20, 2023 @ 11:55 am
That’s really grasping at straws. You also seem to contradict yourself in saying he has some absurd level of desperation to be accepted by the mainstream while also noting he’ll never be a Top 40 artist. Wouldn’t it be much easier just to make Top 40 music then to go about some political ploy to be accepted by the mainstream? Are you saying he’s willing to be phony in politics but not his music? I’ve also never seen him dump on country living. He seems to go out of his way to help his fellow Kentuckians.
Jer in Idaho
March 20, 2023 @ 3:54 pm
“He wants so badly to be accepted by mainstream culture that he turns his back on where he comes from.”
No, it’s pretty clear Sturgill doesn’t care who he’s accepted by, he just does what Sturgill wants to do. Besides, how is standing up against bigotry “turning his back on where he came from?” Are you telling me all Kentuckians are bigots?
“They think they are being non-conformist when they dump on country living and values but in actuality they are the biggest conformists because country values aren’t accepted at all by the mainstream.”
Maybe you would care to tell us what “country values” Sturgill is dumping on? Again, you seem to infer that when Sturgill makes a stand against bigotry that he’s dumping on country values. Is bigotry a country value? I don’t think it is, but you seem to.
King Honky Of Crackershire
March 20, 2023 @ 6:06 pm
….”Are you telling me all Kentuckians are bigots?”….
….”Is bigotry a country value?”….
Loaded questions are fun, Jer. I use them myself from time to time, when I don’t have time to argue with someone, and need an easy way to make them look guilty of whatever it is I’m accusing them of, or implying they’re guilty of.
I’m happy to answer you though.
Yes, all Kentuckians are bigots, because all humans are bigots, and the population of Kentucky is comprised of 100% human beings.
And yes, bigotry is a country value, because bigotry is a human value, and the country is populated 100% by human beings.
March 21, 2023 @ 8:43 am
I don’t know where to begin with how stupid you are so I won’t waste my breath I feel sorry for sheeple like you
King Honky Of Crackershire
March 18, 2023 @ 10:40 am
I’m pumped about a second chance to not buy this. Not buying it the first time was borderline euphoric.
March 18, 2023 @ 11:40 am
Billy Wayne Ruddick
March 18, 2023 @ 7:37 pm
Says the guy who is a Midland fan…
March 20, 2023 @ 11:09 am
The only way not doing something could be cause one to be “pumped” or “borderline euphoric”, is if you felt a strong desire to do it, resisted the urge, then felt good for doing so. Ergo I assume that you really wanted to buy High Top Mountain not once, but twice.
March 19, 2023 @ 8:57 am
Ooh Princess, I hope he has some burn ointment available after receiving such a stinging barb!
March 20, 2023 @ 11:12 am
Sorry. My reply wasn’t meant for Ruddick. My apologies.
Referee Ron Cherry
March 18, 2023 @ 11:00 am
I’m not going to allow what he became (Isbell level prick but with much less talent) to sour me on how much I liked his first three albums.
Already have this on vinyl though so I will pass and save the shelf space for the next 49 Winchester or whatever.
March 18, 2023 @ 1:18 pm
Not Isbell level. Sturgill managed to keep his dickishness out if his music so you can listen to the albums and ignore the talking.
Apart for Sound and Fury. Ignore that as well. But no jarring experience of ‘nice sound, nice sound, oh dear I’m so remorseful of being a superior race and gender’
Its strange how Isbell, DBTs and Steve Earle got so less chill as they grow older. Normally people do a Dylan’s “my back pages” and realise issues are complex. Like BJ Barham who got more considerate and insightful.
“The World’s on Fire” totally ownes all the pathetic whiney white people songs.
March 18, 2023 @ 6:20 pm
I used to buy Isbell albums before I even heard them… I would drive 3 plus hours to see him live
Now, I don’t even listen to the available tracks on soon to be released albums.
March 18, 2023 @ 11:29 am
I have never really understood the fuss about this artist. I have never thought he is anything special and I did not thing much of this album when I bought it. I thought it had a few good tracks. I have bought all his albums because of the critical reviews and am still to be impressed. He has just never grabbed me save for a few tracks. All a matter of opinion. Give me Whiskey Myers, 49 Winchester, Charley Crockett any day.
March 18, 2023 @ 11:59 am
I like Sturgill. His voice is eerily similar to Waylon and the first time I heard “Turtles all the Way Down” I was in awe. Some really fantastic songwriting and resurrected the cosmic country vibe. I haven’t heard a song with so much depth in a very long time. I was sad to hear that he lost his voice and had to retire early. Hopefully he can recover and keep putting out new material similar to how Johnny Bush had to retrain himself to sing after losing his voice. The execs at music city should be indicted for not allowing Sturgill to have a rightful place on the charts.
March 18, 2023 @ 12:03 pm
Sturgill beyond anything else you can say about him is a star. He has so much charisma. He’s frustrating in the way passionate artists can be. I hope we get more music from him but if we don’t he’s already given more than we could ever ask for.
March 18, 2023 @ 12:31 pm
“Living the Dream” is the best country song of this century.
March 19, 2023 @ 10:04 pm
My vote would probably go to ‘Alabama Pines’ or ‘Magnolia Mountain’ for that alt-country sound.
For that Texas/Red Dirt sound there’s ‘Hour on the Hour’ or ‘7&7’.
I won’t even start with bluegrass…
March 18, 2023 @ 12:38 pm
I love Sturgill’s sound, though much of his recordings are far too compressed, but I still like him a lot. Great “Waylon-esque” voice (as others have mentioned). Beautiful ability on guitar, style, even good looks to boot. I just wish he wrote better songs. The last album was bad. The one before it, I think it was the weird animated/anime/80s synthcore aesthetic, whatever that was, wasn’t great either. I understand artists want to go their own way, but I guess I’m trying to say he just has poor taste. Strange hard left turns. Maybe needed more outside cuts. With his voice, bluegrass guitar acumen, and acclaim, he could could have made really awesome records. But he didn’t. Incredible live performer, most of his best music were covers of actual good songs, and he definitely walked so alt-country, folk, Western AF-ish artists could run. I really want to like him more than I do, and I honestly believe he could have been a generational, ubiquitous artist, but with his early retirement, and simply lack of great songs, consistently, he won’t be. And this makes me very sad.. I guess I am glad he did his own thing, though that obviously didn’t last long, but I just selfishly wish he was what we all wanted him to be. He had the full package, man.
March 18, 2023 @ 6:59 pm
If it makes you feel better – he is already generational.
This comment section is dead, because most Sturgill fans get it and do not want to explain everything again – and I will beat myself later for being the exception – there’s been so much controversy about him about nothing, so he (and his true fans) don’t argue or care anymore.
We knew he would quit after 5 albums (and hated him for saying that), we knew with every album he would do something so different, it would take intelligence to figure out the why and get over the shock value. It is Kristofferson thing, look it up. He pulled it off gloriously.
For those who dug beyond the articles and the Cobain inspired hard-headedness, we found a father yearning to be off the road with enough means to support his family.
He told us everything. He planned it. He figured this out with his wife.
He is gone for good now (minus one more hommage to his greatest hero – Willie Nelson – a fitting end).
He is the saviour of country music. He inspired all others – even Stapleton.
He is the absolution and dead of this website.
Jer in Idaho
March 18, 2023 @ 7:18 pm
He’s the best signer/songwriter/musician on the planet. And I really could care less about what anyone thinks about him.
Jerry Clower's Ghost
March 18, 2023 @ 10:16 pm
March 19, 2023 @ 8:54 am
Lol, Tom Russell still walks the earth as does Verlon Thompson, Shawn Camp and Dolly Parton. Sturgeon is fine but in the grand scheme of things, not that important. I didn’t hate his last album though. I also think he would probably agree with my statement.
March 19, 2023 @ 7:47 pm
There’s this guy named Willie Nelson who is still around. He’s got a decent catalog.
In fact, Sturgill will be performing at his birthday bash. First performance in awhile…
I’ve got nothing against Sturgill but comments like the above are just ignorant. There’s a whole world of brilliant musicians and songwriters in country/bluegrass/western swing/americana etc. Pretending Sturgill Simpson stands alone as some sort of paragon in country music is insulting.
He’s just a part of the circle. A welcome, talented part, but just a part.
March 19, 2023 @ 5:02 am
March 19, 2023 @ 8:29 pm
The internet, in particular YouTube and streaming services, are probably most responsible for “saving” country music.
I think it’s cyclical. Artists like Jones and Cash shook up the establishment in the 60s. Then Loretta, Willie and Waylon did the same in the 70s. In the 80s it was George Strait and Randy Travis leading a return to traditional sounds. The 90s gave us folks like Alan Jackson, and a budding alt-country movement. The millennium brought an expansion of that with acts like Uncle Tupelo, Whiskeytown, and DBT.
Through it all the bluegrass world and the Texas honky-tonk scene were going strong.
Things were always circling back around to the real stuff.
And in a world where we still have honky-tonks and porch pickin it always will.
March 20, 2023 @ 10:52 am
Thanks for your response, though I don’t think you understood my post as you quickly judged and categorized me as someone who doesn’t know about Sturgill Simpson, his plans, or reasons for retirement. I am not. Nor am I someone who judges his music by his beliefs or very public opinions. I do not.
The comment section is not dead, actually, because there is much to say about the man. You don’t need to “explain” anything to me regarding what Sturgill has already announced years ago as if you know something I don’t about his reasons. Others have highlighted his personal and political stances, which I could not care less about. I am just disappointed he didn’t make better music that fits what he did best, and it was not anime concept rock operas about outer space and other dimensions. Just because he told us what he was going to do does not make it glorious. I understand your defense of him as a big fan, though.
I am happy he is doing what he wants nowadays. I just wish that he had more help doing what he wanted while he was still an active, generationally talented, artist. It would have landed better.
Jer in Idaho
March 20, 2023 @ 4:07 pm
What strange hard left turn? This wasn’t some recent urge to get woke, it wasn’t a “turn” at all. He wrote Folded Flag about the Iraq War to George W Bush decades ago and released it when he was still with Sunday Valley.
March 21, 2023 @ 5:48 am
Again, I don’t mean politically (read above).
Hard left turn = “out of left field” “random” “off-topic”
We all understand that he had a 5-album concept, but that doesn’t explain why the drastic (“hard left turn”) in style/genre leaving many of his fans questioning “Why?”
Going back to what I said above about songwriting: he has clearly stated in interviews that his approach to songwriting on his later albums was writing poetry and then bringing those lyrics into a studio situation where his band wrote the music on the spot. This, to me, explains why they weren’t good. He used to write on an instrument (guitar) and make complete songs and used his band to flesh them out. The later albums he states he was just “too high to know what chords he was playing” and his band was throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks.
Jer in Idaho
March 21, 2023 @ 11:51 am
Gotcha, thanks for the clarification. What do you consider his “later albums?” Sound & Fury and The Ballad of Dood and Juanita? Or are you throwing in Sailor’s Guide too?
I personally like how he throws in those curveballs. Was Sound and Fury as good as Metamodern? No, but I still loved it. And it’s hard to match the writing of his first three albums, but I still thought it was very good.
March 18, 2023 @ 1:20 pm
I do want to preorder this but I’ll find out next week if I have to move from CO to NC. If so, I’d have to be there by early to mid June. I’m holding off on preorders for releases after May until I figure out what’s going on. At least I’ll still be in Denver for Billy Strings at Red Rocks although I’d be gone for the Greensky/Sierra Ferrell show. That’ll be the 3rd time I bought tickets for Sierra and missed the show for whatever reason.
March 18, 2023 @ 3:43 pm
Looking forward to adding the VMP edition to my other copy!
March 18, 2023 @ 5:56 pm
Overrated. Move on.
March 18, 2023 @ 10:34 pm
Wake me when my original press is a collector’s item I can sell for 100’s on eBay
March 19, 2023 @ 6:41 am
Collectors ruin everything (i.e. vinyl, bourbon, guitars…).
March 20, 2023 @ 3:36 am
can’t think of a more pivotal figure in contemporary country music.
March 20, 2023 @ 5:25 am
I did vinyl records as a kid, but never got into it as an adult. I sometimes miss the sound of old albums that were recorded analog with feedback and amp hum, but never really missed the skipping and scratching noises of records. Interestingly enough, my kid has gotten into old albums, and likes going to the antique stores and picking up old ones.
I’m assuming these albums released by current artists are more for memorabilia purposes than for actually listening. Doesn’t really move the needle for me.
March 20, 2023 @ 10:23 am
Sunday Valley blew my mind! Me and my friends went to what I remember was the High Top Mountain album release show at the orginal Cosmic Charlies in Lexington, KY. Wild Time! My buddy bought the vinyl and Sturgill signed it, i was too poor at the time to buy the vinyl, so Strugill said he’d sign my boot. Cant believe its been 10 years…
March 20, 2023 @ 5:47 pm
Didn’t he put his Dave Cobb albums on blast a few years ago? Guess he doesn’t hate them that much.
Luke Bryan Burner
March 21, 2023 @ 2:39 pm
It depends what you consider being “put on blast”. He basically said that Dave Cobb wanted to make a Waylon album and Sturgill wasn’t super happy with how High Top Mountain ended up sounding. He also sort of complained that Dave got all the credit for Metamodern when the sound was all Surgill’s idea. I don’t thinks that’s putting them on blast. It sounds like an artist who was looking back at his career after 4 albums and realized he would make changes here and there if he could. He also said Chris Stapleton had the success he had because the record label made it happen and people acted like he said Chris was a talentless hack who doesn’t deserve his success so people will hate what they want to hate I guess.
March 21, 2023 @ 2:50 pm
In a couple of interviews leading into the Sturgill/Tyler Childers arena tour, he definitely had pretty pointed words for Dave Cobb, The Grammy Awards, myself, Chris Stapleton, his former manager Marc Dottore, and most anyone else who had worked hard and supported him early in his career. Whether we were “put on blast” is open for interpretation, but it definitely came across as pointed as opposed to reminiscent and grateful. That said, I don’t hold grudges, and I think this is a great album. That is why I wanted to give folks a heads up on this release. I’m a little surprised this simple news article has become a point of discussion on Sturgill’s entire career, but one of the reasons for this is because of the stuff he said as opposed to the music he made. Sturgill is really the only person to blame for that, but I also remain a bit confused why folks don’t focus more on the music itself.
March 27, 2023 @ 2:43 am
Saying things like “he would virtually retire” is lazy reporting and not even close to the truth. Maybe check out his vocal cord injury or give a nod to the fact Sturgill is quietly becoming the Dr Dre of “country” or “folk” or whatever the fuck you want to call good god damn music. gonna be a fun few years as he rolls out killer artist/album one after the other while he recovers. #AlwaysGoToTheShow
March 27, 2023 @ 7:29 am
I’ve covered Sturgill Simpson’s vocal chord injury and his retirement here extensively. Nobody has covered Sturgill Simpson’s career more than myself, and was the first guy to ever report on him. This was just a quick news story about the anniversary edition of an album that somehow many people including yourself have found a way to be inexplicably offended by somehow. And let’s tap the breaks on calling him the “Dr. Dre” of country. I expected significantly more produced albums from Sturgill than what we’ve seen so far. Aside from Brit Taylor, it’s been curiously quiet on that front as well.
April 14, 2023 @ 4:59 am
From a press release:
DIPLO HAS RELEASED A new single from his country music persona Thomas Wesley. The track, “Use Me (Brutal Hearts),” features Dove Cameron and Sturgill Simpson, who appears as Johnny Blue Skies.
Sturgille’s voice sound fine to me, or is it AI generated, who knows! 🙂