The “sophomore slump” is something that successful bands sometimes encounter after their debut album goes platinum or gains critical acclaim. “You have your whole life to write the first record,” is how the logic goes. “And only six months to write the second one.” Looking back, I think that the “sophomore slump” applies to Violent Femmes, a dark and quirky acoustic punk trio that brought busking to the mainstream in the 1980s with songs like “Blister in the Sun,” “Add It Up” and “Gone Daddy Gone.”
Unlike the self-titled debut, their second album, “Hallowed Ground,” took a hard turn into less commercial, religious-themed country music. Tracks like “Jesus Walking on the Water” and “It’s Gonna Rain” defined this bold new direction, but “Hallowed Ground” is the band’s only 80s record to never hit the U.S. charts. Among many great songs on this overlooked collection, none is more haunting than the opening track, “Country Death Song.” It was based on an 1800s news story about a man who threw his daughter down a well before committing suicide. Told in the first person, complete with all the desperation and regret the theme suggests, “Country Death Song” is still one of the best short stories I have ever listened to.
Read the lyrics to “Country Death Song” by Violent Femmes HERE.
Previous installments in this series:
- Husker Du—”Books About UFOs”
- The Mother Hips—”Gold Plated”
- The Replacements—”Left Of The Dial”
- Jason Isbell—”Elephant”
- Steve Earle—”N.Y.C.“
- Generation X—”Kiss Me Deadly”
- Mr. T Experience—”Sorry For Freaking Out…”
S.W. Lauden’s short fiction has been accepted for publication by Out of the Gutter, Criminal Element, Dark Corners, Dead Guns Magazine, Akashic Books, WeirdBook, Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey and Crimespree Magazine. His debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, will be published by Rare Bird Books in October 2015. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published by Down & Out Books in 2016.