Don’t underestimate Sugarland’s love for the Peach State.
During the group’s Love on the Inside Tour in 2008, bandmates Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush began tossing a stripped-down cover of R.E.M.‘s “The One I Love” into the set, tipping their hat to another one of Georgia’s highest-selling musical exports. Performed with nothing more than an acoustic guitar and mandolin, the song also doubled as a chance for Bush to (briefly) become the duo’s lead vocalist, a role he mostly avoided until launching his solo career earlier this year with Southern Gravity.
“When I turned [Southern Gravity] in to the record company and management company, they were like, ‘My gosh, you can sing!'” Bush told Rolling Stone Country last summer. “And I was like, ‘What did you think I do?'”
Bush’s management clearly hadn’t watched the above video, which begins with Bush singing the song’s first verse. Nettles joins him during the chorus, singing Mike Mills’ harmony part before transitioning to Michael Stipe’s melody for the rest of the song. Filmed during a show in Lexington, Kentucky, the pair’s cover almost has a Celtic influence, with Bush’s mandolin driving the song forward at a rootsy clip.
Formed in Atlanta — less than a 90-minute drive from R.E.M.’s hometown of Athens, Georgia — Sugarland have covered several songs by their home state heroes. On May 21st, 2011, in response to Christian radio host Harold Camping’s claim that the Rapture was set to occur that day, the group performed “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” during a show in New Jersey, with help from opening acts Matt Nathanson and Little Big Town. Also, during the same tour that introduced the band’s cover of “The One I Love,” Sugarland also covered R.E.M.’s “Nightswimming,” using the 1993 single as an introduction for their own song, “Joey.”
You can take the country musicians out of Georgia. . .