See Jason Isbell Sing 'The Saddest Song Ever' - Rolling Stone
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See Jason Isbell Sing ‘The Saddest Song Ever’

In a ‘Late Show with Stephen Colbert’ bit, songwriter pokes fun at his serious image with satirical tune about cannon accidents and ailing dogs

First, there was Chris Stapleton and his panties on Jimmy Kimmel, and now Jason Isbell has taken to late night television to debut his newest pastiche masterpiece, “The Saddest Song Ever.” For a skit on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, “alt-country troubadour Jason Isbell” took his penchant for introspective, working-class anthems one step further, tackling such subjects as ailing family dogs, the tax man, cannon accidents, grandpas who think they are Hitler and many more morose themes — all crammed into one “180-minute, four-chord song” available on Tidal or triple-cassette, a.k.a “the two saddest formats known to man” (well, not according to Kanye West). 

Of course, the now Grammy-winning Isbell has been known for his share of non-satirical sad songs (Southeastern‘s “Elephant,” about a friend dying from cancer, probably takes the tear-inducing cake), but that doesn’t mean he can’t poke fun at his own bread and butter — or the media, who often loves to pin him spinner of depressing tunes about alcoholism, blue-collar angst and southern struggle. And sure, those themes are pretty prevalent on Something More Than Free, but there’s a lot of joy too — and, more importantly, cold hard truth.

Perhaps the most depressing part of Isbell’s “Saddest Song Ever” — for other songwriters, at least — is that, even in parody mode, he still sounds better than most.

In This Article: Jason Isbell


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