Since forming in Palestine, Texas in 2007, Whiskey Myers had gradually been gaining an audience for their gritty yet heartfelt Southern rock.
But after key songs became integral to the successful Yellowstone TV series in 2018, the exposure elevated them to rapid crossover popularity.
The band’s finest tracks display tough and tender musical and lyrical approaches similar to those of Lynyrd Skynyrd, a clear inspiration.
Here is Holler’s list of the 15 best Whiskey Myers songs:
This searing, hard rocking co-write with fellow Texan and musical outlaw Ray Wylie Hubbard tells of frontman/songwriter Cody Cannon’s transformation from a youngster “lost to the Pentecost” into a lifelong rock and roller - helped immeasurably by hearing ‘Sway’ by the Rolling Stones and feeling a woman’s breast… perhaps not in that order.
The use of horns on this and other tracks from 2016’s Mud stretched Whiskey Myers’ boundaries to a more soulful style.
The love song has teeth as the brass punctuates the band’s rugged roots without diluting them, Cannon rejoicing hanging out with his partner on a mountain along with the titular elements.
Producer Dave Cobb arrived for 2014’s Early Morning Shakes. He focused and expanded WM’s palette by adding the scorching female backing vocals. They combine with fiery guitar solos in this storming rocker, co-written with Kendal Marvel, where the protagonist searches for the soul he feels he’s losing due to the relentless life of a touring musician.
The story, co-written with the Black Crowes’ Rich Robinson, tells of a self-professed “bad motherfu**er” Navy Seal who has never been one to run away but wants out of “dodging bullets in the desert sand.”
It features a crushing riff that AC/DC might want to borrow while taking the voice of the conflicted enlisted soldier.
The epitome of a sharp Southern rocker name checks the central character in Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘The Ballad of Curtis Lowe’ while celebrating a life playing music, even as the singer misses being home.
It’s another example of how songwriter Cody Cannon presents two sides of the story with honesty, integrity and a sure grip on melody.
The title track of 2016’s album alludes to the swamp-pounding musical direction of Neil Young and Crazy Horse.It’s the story of a proud farming family in debt to bankers threatening to take their home.
“How we gonna pay when the interest rates done got higher than the corn?” the singer pleads, as reverberating guitars squall with the answer.
The actor known for gruff American cowboy roles, after which the song is named, never appears in the lyrics.
This opening rocker - the most streamed selection from 2022’s Tornillo - finds the planet burning down due in part to climate change, but the narrator is “just out in the shade watching the world go up in flames”.
Even early in their career, Whiskey Myers balanced light and dark, as this track from 2008’ debut proves.
Its title references their Lone Star State home and captures the singer’s intention to return to his romantic partner because he can’t love her on the telephone.
Myers’ songs don’t get more painfully brooding than this gloomy yet popular 2014 ballad.
The story of a man drowning in prescription pills after his wife’s death and preparing to commit suicide next to her grave to end his depression is arguably the heaviest, most lyrically powerful item in their catalog.
The wreckage of amphetamine addiction is addressed head-on in this intense acoustic tale as the singer describes the fall of his girlfriend from dependence to death.
It’s spare, unflinching and riveting as Cannon’s straightforward lyrics convey his hurt, frustration and desperation about the situation with tenderness and a strong dose of reality.
Darrell Scott gets a co-writing credit on this unplugged, slice-of-life ballad about young marrieds who live in a trailer and whose love for each other perseveres through difficult socio-economic times.
Cody Cannon understands these people as he sympathizes with the couple who are trying their best to just get by. Melancholy; bittersweet yet hopeful.
The narrator reminisces and laments the loss of a woman, not the American state, in the song’s title. But since she left before 1975, it seems he’s now old. All the more reason for this sorrowful ballad to bring a tear as Cannon sings “You left me here / Not saying goodbye.”
The lonesome sound of a mandolin underlies and meshes with an ominous female chorus as the young narrator, who might be a soldier fighting overseas, describes the exact location he wants to be laid to rest. Tension builds and explodes in a closing guitar solo that’s as chilling as the subject matter.
Whiskey Myers’ most streamed song got a major bump from its appearance in Yellowstone. The piano based ballad follows the frontman’s struggles to ignore the parasites around him, wondering if his heart has turned to stone.
The ringing chorus of “sweet sweet heart of mine / I’m going to break again a million times” inspires the waving of lighters.
The singer explains his upbringing in the American South (knowing the words to Skynyrd’s ‘Simple Man’, learning how to shoot, drinking moonshine from a Mason jar etc.) to a listener indifferent to that life.
Each beating verse ends with “That’s something you don’t understand”, creating an anthem for proud Southerners with “I can’t change my ways, that’s who I am”.
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