Living Room Songs — Track 14: “Buckin Horse Rider” by Corb Lund from Five Dollar Bill
Corb Lund is someone whom I will try to promote whenever I have a chance. I think he’s great and, in general, I like his songs better the more I listen to them. His songs are frequently immaculately crafted and often clever, but that never gets in the way of them feeling true.
This is definitely an example of that, a song written from personal experienced, but one in which every line is perfectly constructed but in an understated way.
This song was actually important in helping me clarify my sense of this mix. Very early on I knew that I wanted to include something by Corb (of course) and probably something off of Five Dollar Bill. As I was listening through the album to select a song I realized that several of the songs that I liked, such as “(Gonna) Shine Up My Boots”, had drums on them and that just didn’t feel right. So I went with this track partially because it didn’t have any drums and then, thinking about it, I realized that, of course people don’t generally bring a drum kit when they’re going to play music at somebody’s house, and that was when I really started thinking of this as “living room songs.” The irony is that the person who’s invitation got me to put this mix together is a drummer, so I feel slightly bad about then making a mix with no drums on it.
This is a good opportunity to say that I recently found a complete Corb Lund house concert on youtube starting here. It isn’t necessarily his best performance, the setting is very casual, it can feel low-energy rather than intimate, and some of the songs suffer from the absence of a band. But I really liked hearing him perform earlier material next to more recent songs and it made me like the newer stuff better than I had. It also brings the anti-war elements of the songs from Horse Soldier to the surface in ways that I appreciate.
Appropriately for this track his performance of “Buckin’ Horse Rider” is great and very personal and if you watch the video to the end he introduces the next song, from Horse Soldier, “Student Visas” and both the introduction and the song have more raw emotion than the album version. His singing on the chorus, “There ain’t no fun in killing folk and I don’t want to do no more.” is heartbreaking.