Rodney Crowell meditates on love and life as he takes a sombre walk through Nashville’s neglected back streets.
Since moving to Nashville in 1972, Rodney Crowell has held onto his place at the top-table of Americana and alt-country singer-songwriters, and the quality of his work has been recognised with a slew of awards, including two Grammys. Having racked up fifteen number one hits – including 6 of his own and dozens of others for an impressively diverse array of artists including Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Keith Urban, Bob Seger, Etta James and Grateful Dead – it’s no surprise to discover that he’s lost none of his power as a exceptional songwriter in his latest release.
‘Triage‘ is the title track to his upcoming album and it sees Crowell focus his unflinching gaze on life in contemporary America and the perilous state of love itself in an increasingly bleak world. “I think I know what love is, forgiveness for a start // Room for those you love to hate, somewhere inside your heart.”
Crowell credits the song’s inspiration to his friend Joe Henry and, “His clear-eyed and openly vulnerable take on the uncertainties of an out-of-the-blue cancer diagnosis opened the door to this song.”
Directed by Haroula Rose with camera work by Sebastian Pinzon Silva, the video’s cool, wash-out monochrome emphasises the desolation of the grim urban locations, as Crowell walks litter-strewn sidewalks, looking through razor-wire and chain-link fences at fields of discarded trash and a city’s rotting detritus. But despite the dark mood, Crowell’s sense of humour isn’t entirely lost, with a casually kicked bottle in the opening shot and some air-piano played on the razor-wire very much in keeping with his wry lyrical observations.
Ultimately, the song’s final section reveals a more optimistic message, “If you’re asking me what love is here’s what I might say // you can find it out there anywhere on any given day.” The accompanying hard cut from the black and white urban setting to Crowell walking through a heavily contrasting woodland scene bathed in soft, late-evening colours is abrupt, but perhaps it has even more impact as a result.
Crowell says that the video accomplished what he hoped it would, “I came out looking like a guy who knows pretty much what time it is in the world. No small feat, that.” In these tumultuous times, no small feat indeed. A powerful message from a powerhouse of country and Americana music… not to be missed.