Let’s jump on the Nachez Trace and mosey our way southward. I got the tunes to help us wander our way through the Magnolia State. And here we have three very solid songs.
The Highwomen: When Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris and Amanda Shires joined forces to release the album “Redesigning Women,” it ran the same risk as any other supergroup (and probably more so because women’s ambitions are often judged more harshly). Add in that they might come off as a tribute band and it could have gone badly. I said it before and I’ll say it again: Carlile is amongst the best in the business. She and Shires collaborated with the original writer of “Highwayman” to create a woman-focused song that hits even more powerfully than the original. Then, in the verse where Yola has guest vocals and says she was a freedom rider bound for Mississippi… damn. (Also worth a watch is the live performance with Mavis Staples who is every bit the vocalist she was thirty years ago.)
Speaking of Mavis…
Down in Mississippi: I saw Mavis open for Dylan some years ago. Dylan is notoriously up and down in terms of live performances. It was a down evening. But fortunately for all of us concert-goers, Mavis was Mavis. She was a force. Completely worth the price of admission just to see her. And this song—a more recent creation considering her decades-long career—absolutely stomps. It rocks. And like her, it delivers.
Mississippi: America’s own Nobel Laureate loves to set songs in place and absorb them. Perhaps Mississippi is the best of Dylan as metter en scene. And perhaps one of the best Dylan lines: You can come back/but you can’t come back all the way. Check out the multiple renditions of this sleepy toe tapper by listening to the two-disc set of The Bootleg Series: Telltale Signs. (Other reviewers of this song should note how I never once needed to mention the album’s release date. I must have forgotten.)