An internet poll recently showed up in my scrolling asking how many of the 50 American states one had visited. My count reached what seems like a respectable 34. One of them, however, was not Arkansas. To be honest, I’m not even certain where it’s located (oh look, there it is, surprisingly sitting right on top of Louisiana). It’s probably a perfectly nice place, but frankly I’m not sure what would ever get me there. And I wouldn’t piss on its freaky-eyed fuckstick of a governor if she were on fire.
And then comes this song simply titled ‘Arkansas,’ by one of the great artists of this century, Chris Stapleton, and now I think I might want to go. It’s an under 3-minute old-fashioned barn-burner, the perfect kind for hitting the road – say, all the way to south central U.S. of A.
As has now been long established, Stapleton’s voice is a ballistic mix of raspiness, warmth and passionate soul that make it unlike anything in modern music. This howling number (from 2020’s Starting Over) is produced per usual by prolific sound magician Dave Cobb — how does he keep that rich acoustic guitar up so high in the mix and still retain the tune’s constant rolling thunder? And if you think the guitar solo break sounds like something that could’ve been pulled from a Tom Petty tune, well, it is – that’s Mike Campbell, esteemed Heartbreakers alumnus (and also co-writer of the song).
So, alright then: Ozark mountains, the Razorbacks, Little Rock, Fayetteville…here I come. Sing it with me and Stapleton: “Gotta get down, gotta get down to Arkansas!”
And if I happen to see that aforementioned governor – who once said about a certain former president “People are just looking for honesty and authenticity more than anything” – Soooie! I might just give her a goddamn swirly in her favorite trans-restricted bathroom.