After just two major-label albums, country star Kacey Musgraves has established herself as one of the finest songwriters in music. In thought-provoking songs like “Merry Go 'Round,” “Follow Your Arrow,” and “Biscuits,” Musgraves writes about life in small-town America with words that are witty, insightful, and biting.
The singer just released Pageant Material, a well-received album that is projected to debut in the Top 10. The album contains a number of interesting lines touching on topics like crazy relatives, nosy neighbors, and heartfelt love. With due credit to Kacey's primary co-writers – Luke Laird, Shane McAnally, Brandy Clark, and Josh Osbourne, who no doubt contributed greatly to these memorable tunes – let's examine some of the most clever lyrics on Pageant Material.
“I'm just a dime store cowgirl / That's all I'm ever gonna be / You can take me out of the country / But you can't take the country out of me.” Some observers wondered if Musgraves might go pop on her second album, but as "Dime Store Cowgirl" proves, she's still country all the way.
“I'm always higher than my hair / And it ain't that I don't care about world peace / But I don't see how I can fix it in a swimsuit on a stage.” “God bless the girls who smile and hug / When they're called out as a runner up on TV / I wish I could, but I just can't / Wear a smile when a smile ain't what I'm feelin'.” Both of these lines come from the title track, which is perhaps the most comedic song on the record. Musgraves sings about being more of a regular gal with real feelings rather than a beauty queen who makes nice with everyone.
“You'll end up in the paper, wreck your family name / What goes around comes back around by Friday's football game / We only got one sheriff, but we all know how to keep the peace / Aw, and don't you forget it, as big as we're getting / This town's too small to be mean.” These lines from "This Town" recall the similar "Merry Go 'Round" from Kacey's last album. Musgraves also sings in "This Town" about a small town getting its first stoplight and hearing the exciting news that the local grocery store is finally allowed to sell beer.
“Just hoe your own row and raise your own babies / Smoke your own smoke and grow your own daisies / Mend your own fences and own your own crazy / Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy.” The pointed hook from "Biscuits" has already become one of the singer's most famous lyrics.
“We're all flawed and we're all perfect / We're all lost and we're all hurting / And just searching for somebody to love.” Perhaps the most powerful track on Pageant Material is “Somebody to Love.” Musgraves sets aside the quips for a serious examination of the universal quest for companionship.
“Family is family, in church or in prison / You get what you get, and you don't get to pick 'em / They might smoke like chimneys, but give you their kidneys / Yeah, friends come in handy, but family is family.” The singer writes a lot about her roots. In "Family is Family," she says that even though sometimes relatives can be crazy, they're still family.
“Cigars and handshakes, appreciate you but no thanks / Another gear in a big machine don't sound like fun to me / Don't wanna be a part of the good ol' boys club.” Country music has always been a "Good Ol' Boys Club,” and Musgraves takes that group of people to task in the song of the same name.
“Maybe your jacket is a hand-me-down / Maybe you slept with half of your hometown / In a world of squares, maybe you're just round / You can't be everybody's cup of tea.” "Cup of Tea" is another be-who-you-are anthem. Musgraves admits she's not going to appeal to everyone, and that's just fine.
Other lyrical highlights from the album include a batch of great one-liners, such as: “Before we get to Heaven, baby let's give 'em hell" (from "Die Fun"); “They own too much wicker and drink too much liquor / You'd wash your hands of them, but blood's always thicker" (from "Family is Family"); “Nobody needs a thousand-dollar suit just to take out the trash" (from "High Time"); and “They're blowing up our phones, asking where we are / Just say we're almost there; we ain't even in the car" (from "Late to the Party".)
Pageant Material, released on Mercury Nashville, is available now in stores and at online retailers.