Last week’s Chain Gang included a somewhat circuitous discussion of songs and albums titled ‘The Mountain’, resulting in Benjamin Tod’s version of the Steve Earle song of the same name.
One of the highly distinctive things about Benjamin Tod is the tattoo he has centred on his neck, which reads ‘11030’ otherwise known as the “hobo zipcode”. Evidently, this is because Tod considers himself something of an outlaw. This isn’t by way of a link to an outlaw country artist, but it did get me to think about those modern exponents of country music who are renowned for their approach to body adornment. Which led me to Joshua Hedley, who along with having a Hank Williams tattoo on his left arm, has the chord changes for Merle Haggard’s ‘Swinging Doors’ inked on his knuckles. His other row of knuckle tattoos reads “SOUTHERN,” because – according to Hedley – “it fit and because I am.”
Pre-Covid, you’d usually be able to catch Joshua Hedley performing his traditional country music covers at Robert’s Western World on Lower Broadway in Nashville. While he did manage a live show there earlier this month (limited to 25 patrons), it’s largely streaming shows online for the time being. It’s music, incidentally, that the outlaw country music movement would have rebelled against because as far as Hedley is concerned, country music was more or less perfected by 1965 – with everything else thereafter one form of experimentation or another. Sometimes the past feels like a foreign country – in more ways than one these days.