Hidden Gem: Old Crow Medicine Show, “Dearly Departed Friend”

Country music is a genre that has always been known for it’s songs with connection to soldiers at war. Lots of artists get it right, but few are able to absolutely knock it out of the park. A few examples of acts hitting a home run with this topic, are Brantley Gilbert with “One Hell of an Amen”, Tim McGraw with “If You’re Reading This”, Dixie Chicks with “Travelling Soldier”, and John Michael Montgomery “Letters From Home”. What each and every one of these songs has going for it, is that the narrator has a personal connection to the deceased character depicted within the lyric. It’s that very aspect that Old Crow Medicine Show, known for their iconic hit “Wagon Wheel”, absolutely nail with “Dearly Departed Friend”.

“Dearly Departed Friend” covers some common ground, but what makes it unique, is the overall lack of sorrow within the performance. The narrator delivers in more of a “we had a good run pal” fashion rather than trying to rip your heart out with emotion. In addition, the man depicted speaks as though he’s watching from a distance as opposed to making himself the center of attention. The simplicity of the performance is absolutely wonderful, and is especially emphasized throughout a toned down chorus that features the line “nothing much to say except sorry it turned out like it did.”

The lyric is sprinkled with little details like a Sunday football game and a mothers melodramatic new boyfriend which add a whole new dynamic to the song. Capped off with a bridge where the narrator remembers his old friend by himself, away from the crowd, and backed by a stripped down, acoustic heavy production, “Dearly Departed Friend” is one recording that fires on all cylinders.

If you know Old Crow Medicine Show as “the group that Darius Rucker covered”, you’re making a mistake. I highly recommend delving deeper into their discography, and this gem of a track would be a mighty fine place to start.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *