As someone who has fond memories of singing along to Shania Twain in the car with his mom before later discovering Bright Eyes and Cat Power, Kacey Musgraves is extremely my shit. Kacey makes pop-tinged country music for people who are more attracted to the genre’s sincerity than its love of pick-up trucks but isn’t afraid to poke fun at herself and the world around her.
In the chaos that is 2020, listening to Kacey Musgraves is a respite from the shit-storm. Putting on her music makes me feel good about myself and has become my regular shot of self-esteem when I’m deep in the doldrums. That’s not to say she doesn’t absolutely shatter my heart throughout her catalogue. I have shed more than a few tears as Kacey laments about life. And then another song comes on, and I feel hopeful again.
This list is meant to be an introduction for those of you who have never heard Kacey’s incredible music (especially her earlier work). Kacey Musgraves fans will each have their own individual Top 5 that resonates with them because each of her songs evokes such a strong response from the listener. Or, at least that’s been my experience. I’d obviously love to hear what your favourite Kacey Musgraves songs are and why they resonate with you, but these are songs that hit me in my feels the hardest at the moment.
5 – Blowin’ Smoke
If you’ve ever worked in the hospitality industry, ‘Blowin Smoke’ will give you flashbacks to smoke breaks, cash-ups, and all the outlandish bullshit that would be spouted throughout a shift. Whether it’s about the customers, the manager, the owner, or even the other staff on the floor or in the kitchen, an extraordinary amount of “blowin’ smoke” goes down in restaurants. Hey, it’s a way to pass the time. Be careful though, because you might just find yourself wasting your life away talking shit about the person who actually did the thing you always talk about doing.
4 – High Horse
This song directly attacks me. The first time I heard it I felt read for the filth that I am. At times, I can be the exact person she is singing about in this song. An aloof, self-important asshole who thinks his opinion is the way, the truth, and the light. Doesn’t stop me from singing along to every single word with somebody else in mind though. It’s a catchy reminder to not think so highly of yourself and your opinions.
‘Cause everyone knows someone who kills the buzz
Every time they open up their mouth
Yeah, everyone knows someone who knows someone
Who thinks they’re cooler than everybody else
Don’t be that person.
3 – Follow Your Arrow
This song is punk as fuck. Not in sound but in sentiment. It’s a song about self-acceptance that also extends that acceptance to others. Tell me you can’t imagine Rise Against (I know there are punkier bands but I’m writing for a broader audience you fucking hipster) singing a chorus like “Make lots of noise (hey) // And kiss lots of boys (yeah) // Or kiss lots of girls // If that’s something you’re into.” Kacey also recommends lighting up a joint which anyone can tell you, is my number one solution to anything. So, I relate. Not just because of the whole weed thing. More because of the whole doing your own thing regardless of what society expects or wants from you.
2 – Space Cowboy
This song just wrecks me. The empathy and understanding from Kacey are just too damn much for me to handle. “You look out the window whilst I look at you” is one of those opening lines that immediately pierces the soul. The rest of the song digs deeper before pulling the knife out and providing healing through accepting that you can’t control what another heart wants. It’s an incredibly well-considered take on being in love with someone who has one foot out the door.
1 – Keep it to Yourself
This is definitely a contender for the most brutal post-break-up song out there. The first verse walks you down the primrose path until the chorus just takes you for a complete and utter poes. This is the perfect song to send to an ex who drunk dials you or wants “to meet up to talk”. I mean, I’ve been that guy. Which is probably why this song punches me in the gut. And probably why I love it so much. Hearing the other side of that pathetic behaviour is certainly sobering. Next time you want to drunk text your ex at 3 am, maybe listen to Kacey and keep it to yourself?