Never one to shy away from controversial topics, truth-telling troubadour Nathan Bell is back with “Goodbye Brushy Mountain,” a heart-tugging tune from his forthcoming release, the stark and stripped-down LOVE > FEAR (48 Hours in Traitorland)—out June 30th via Stone Barn Records. The album captures the naked immediacy of his live acoustic performances, while boldly confronting the harsh realities of the current political climate.
“Goodbye Brushy Mountain” is about the oldest and now defunct prison in Tennessee, told from the perspective of an inmate who had been incarcerated there for most of his life. “I either saw an interview or dreamed the interview with the guy. Doesn’t matter…fact or fiction, it’s the truth,” says Bell of the story. “This entire song is made possible by my wife, Leslie, who showed me how to frail a banjo,” he says. “Being a less than precise mimic, I created a strange fingerpicking/hammer on technique for my right hand. Once I had the riff, the lyrics came easily. It has the feel of time running out.”
“Once they’ve got you, they’ll never let you go/They get all that state money to store your soul,” he sings in his emotively grizzled voice, as he challenges us to think of the prisoner as a man, who comments on his prison home being dismantled, bar by bar. Bell holds the social justice mirror aloft with both hands and all of his might, and offers us a chance to reflect on current issues and social norms, and calls our attention to matters in desperate need of our focus.
Without further ado, Mother Church Pew proudly presents “Goodbye Brushy Mountain” by Nathan Bell: