It’s too early to think about trick-or-treating, but Miranda Lambert“Strange” might be a good soundtrack for the ultra-organized planners considering this year’s Halloween costumes.
“It does sound like a creepy carnival,” she said, laughing.
“Strange” is a response to the pandemic, an unbalanced period in American life that plunges people into uncertainty, with a creepy virus — especially in its infancy — new and dangerous fight. Lest we forget how strange this is, Lambert and her co-authors, Luke Dick (“Burning Man”, “Don’t Come”) and Natalie Heimby (“Heartache Medication”, “Pontoon”) wrote “Strange” on Lambert’s Tennessee farm in 2020, when a vaccine was a distant dream and society was all but at a standstill.
“No one was traveling,” Dick recalls. “We were together the only time we were writing with other people without masks and it was amazing. We were swimming in ponds and burning quads everywhere and writing songs and dancing with a smile. It’s hard to imagine being there Write another record under the circumstances. That song feels like the embodiment of it.”
The trio held three different multi-day sessions that year to write much of Lambert’s work Palomino Album, each of them lives in their own cabin. Hemby came up with the “moments like this make me feel weird” hook while dealing with the weirdness of COVID-19 in her cabin during their first party. She also came up with the opening line, “I’m a wolf on my left and a wolf on my right,” an ominous Halloween-tinged image that reflects the chaos of misinformation surrounding the virus.
“I just feel like I don’t know who the good guys are and who’s the bad guys,” Hemby said. “Is everyone okay? I don’t know. Sometimes when you go through something in your life, you can’t talk about it until it’s over.”
Lambert and Dick agreed with the basic idea, but after working on it for a long time, they abandoned it and turned to other materials.
When they returned for a second multi-day meeting, the “strange” resurfaced. This time, something clicked. Dick concocted a dark acoustic guitar riff with a rock tinge that captured the mood. They continue to use contradictory, metaphorical imagery to reflect the incongruity of life in the midst of a pandemic: the sun at night, the “city-feeling suburban” and elevators that only go down.
“It’s really a alice in wonderland That song you fell into the hole,” said Hampi. “There’s a Cheshire cat and a key that doesn’t work, and something makes it bigger and smaller. “
The second sentence deliberately brings up an extra blurry image – “Lincoln is here, Jefferson is gone” sounds like historical politics, but it’s actually referring to the devaluation of the dollar, and the shattered Maytag’s Vision tackles technical failures while subtly recalling “It’s All Comes Out in the Wash”, a single from Lambert’s last album, wildcard.
The meaning of the song doesn’t really unfold until they get to the chorus section, taking on a brighter tone with parties and travel in mind, which are often discouraged during self-isolation in 2020.
“Chorus, we want it to elevate and become an anthem, not creepy in any way,” Lambert said. “It’s like, ‘Have fun, have a drink, get out of here, go on vacation’ — whatever you do to stay awake in the midst of all this weird stuff. I hope it’s an anthem that unites people. The pandemic is definitely The weirdest thing we’ve ever been through, but that’s only part of it.”
As they approached the conclusion, they felt “strange” that a bridge was needed, but in general, they were stuck. They considered closing the store, but Lambert suggested they each retreat to their own cabin, write their own version of the bridge, and come back together. After 20 or 30 minutes, they compared the notes, then took a line from each version and gave it a twist. Finally, its verses underscore the peculiarities of the times, the chorus embraces escape, and the bridge is actually a prayer of serenity: striving to accept what cannot be changed.
“Singing is fun and easy to play,” Hemby said. “I just love the song. Also, I just feel like it expresses everyone’s frustration, not preaching.”
Dick built the demo around his original guitar riff, doubling the sections to create an ethereal, almost imperceptible battle between the left and right speakers.These guitars then became the basis for Lambert, Dick and co-producers Jon Randall (Dix Bentley, Parker McCollum) formed a small band at Blackbird Studios in Nashville to edit the final version.
“We kept a lot of Luke Dick’s guitars and flew them to our tracks because he was so specific, his style, that it was impossible to replicate what he did,” Randall said. “When he came up with a really cool vibe on these acoustics and everything, you wanted to keep those, so we kind of played on top of what he had put down.”
track used tom petty– like guitar pulses, they have a weird texture on top of them, Rob McNally Play an elongated wah pedal sound. “It’s like a Mike Campbell Trick,” Dick said. “It’s trying to think like ‘Into the Great Wide Open,’ the beginning of the song. “
Ian Fitchuk doubles down on bass and keyboards as he threades ghostly counter-melody into the background and filters the Wurlitzer piano to create a glassy, falling tone at the end of the first chorus that enhances the ambience of the mirror house . “The song has to match the lyrics, you know, so you have to chase that vibe,” Randall said. “That’s why there are phaser-sounding guitars and all that makes it feel a little weird.”
When Lambert was doing the final vocals for the album, she had someone drive her to the studio every day to mentally prepare for the song she was going to deliver. “Driving keeps me focused on driving,” she said. “I had to be sent away so I could start getting into a mindset of, ‘Today, I’m going to sing ‘Strange.’ Let’s go to the house of mirrors in your heart.
Vanner/RCA released “Strange” to country radio via PlayMPE on June 27 and debuted at number 60 on the Country Airplay chart on August 6. Currently listed as the top New and Active title, it reflects hard times and sets the stage for Halloween, Lambert’s favorite holiday.
“It’s like one of those singles that aren’t shallow,” she observed. “Some songs are fun and relaxing. Needless to say, some are a little more fleshy.”