Country music!? What is this madness? Especially on a metal-centric website?! Okay but really, I think metal is easily the most expansive and inclusive genre there is, and while many metalheads don’t like to admit it, there are a few of us out there who also like country music. ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL is an old country band. Literally, their new album that likewise shares a name with today’s Song of the Day, “Half a Hundred Years,” was released on October 1st, 2021, in celebration of this band’s 50th (!) anniversary. While these guys have been around for five full decades, there’s something wonderful about knowing that they can still rock a fantastic track after all this time!
So what’s great about this song? Well, you will likely not accept “everything” as a sufficient response, so let’s get into it a bit! First of all, have you heard Ray Benson‘s voice? The man has a wolverine purr that puts Mathias Nygård to shame. That deep, rich sound is what gives oomph to a lot of the sound. He’s absolutely the music version of actor Sam Elliot.
Next, the song has that pure Mark Knopfler -sounding country guitar twiddling that’s so irresistible, as well as some really stylish steel guitar. The strong bass groove helps, the catchy drumming is great, but they also have a brass section to add some flare. Let me reiterate: they combine fiddle with brass in this song. Not violin. Fiddle. As someone who grew up fiddling for well over a decade, I did not know you could pull that off, but here we have it! The brass adds exactly what the song needs at all the right moments, to create a wonderful country big band sound that has all of the bombast a milestone track like this deserves. It’s pretty mid-tempo, but it’s so catchy and punchy that I want to bounce around and dance every time it comes on my playlists thanks to its wonderful groove.
The other nice tidbit about this track is that it’s simply got fun lyrics about being around in the scene for 50 years and not having expected to last this long. The rather campy and entertaining video shows Benson watching a slide film of images from throughout the band’s career, drinking beer and eating popcorn and generally being a bit silly.
I, for one, tip my hat and raise a toast to half a hundred years!