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‘I Remember Everything’ by Zach Bryan & Kacey Musgraves - Lyrics & Meaning

September 1, 2023 5:21 pm GMT
Last Edited February 5, 2024 3:36 pm GMT

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Zach Bryan & Kacey Musgraves - ‘I Remember Everything’

Label: Belting Bronco Records / Warner Records

Release Date: 25th August 2023

Album: Zach Bryan

Producer: Zach Bryan

Songwriters: Zach Bryan & Kacey Musgraves

Chart Performance:

  • No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100
  • No. 1 on Billboard Hot Country Songs
  • No. 1 on Billboard Hot Rock & Alternative Songs
  • No. 1 on US Spotify Chart

Certifications:

  • RIAA Platinum
  • BPI Silver

Awards:

  • 2024 Grammy for Best Country Duo/Group Performance

The Background:

To say that Zach Bryan's 2023 self-titled album was ‘hotly anticipated’ feels like the understatement of the year. After releasing his acclaimed Summertime Blues EP in 2022, the Oklahoma prodigy seemed to spend the vast majority of the proceeding months teasing unreleased song snippets, demos and clips across his socials.

Not all of these ended up making the cut, but - thankfully - when he unveiled the tracklist in mid-August, a previously shared fan-favourite, ‘I Remember Everything’, appeared on the roughly scrawled list of songs due to be included on Zach Bryan.

However, Zach had a blockbuster twist up his sleeve. He'd teased ‘I Remember Everything’ as a solo cut back in June 2023, but as part of the tracklist reveal, the ‘Something in the Orange’ hitmaker confirmed the official studio version would feature Kacey Musgraves.

All the other guest vocalists on Zach Bryan had been hinted at in some shape or form in the lead-up the the release, but Kacey's inclusion came as a complete surprise.

As a result, ‘I Remember Everything’ quickly became the most talked-about track on the celebrated new project, with the heartfelt offering debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, having already topped the US Spotify Chart.

With ‘I Remember Everything’ proving successful in its quest to reach the pinnacle of the prestigious chart, it marks the first time both Zach Bryan and Kacey Musgraves have ever achieved this feat.

The Sound:

Instrumentally, ‘I Remember Everything’ does not represent a significant departure from the sparse, acoustic-guitar-driven sound that pervaded 2022's American Heartbreak.

The uptempo, built-out production of Summertime Blues is eschewed in favour of the mellow, introspective storytelling that sparked Zach's initial explosion in popularity.

A weary strum accompanies Zach's purposefully worn-down vocal delivery, as he despondently sets the mood in his opening verse. The introduction of an unassuming, laid-back drum beat with the chorus adds a newfound sense of vigour and enthusiasm, seemingly symbolising the point at which the two ex-lovers allow themselves to dive headfirst into the rose-tinted euphoria of their memories.

Kacey Musgraves’ intricate, cushioned vocals in the second verse and hook take the edge off Zach's comparatively heavy, gruff delivery. When the two combine for the song's crescendo, it brings a visceral yet temporary sense of harmony and serenity to the broken-hearted track.

The starkly opposing vocal styles appear to represent the tension that simmers beneath the surface, and that ultimately leads to the downfall of the relationship.

Yet there's an unquestionable symmetry that emerges when Zach and Kacey sing together, showcasing the flashes of beautiful euphony that the lovers enjoyed during their time together.

The Meaning:

“Rot gut whiskey's gonna ease my mind
Beach towel rests on the dryin' line
Do I remind you of your daddy in his '88 Ford?
Labrador hangin' out the passenger door
The sand from your hair is blowin' in my eyes
Blame it on the beach, grown men don't cry
Do you remember that beat down basement couch?
I'd sing you my love songs and you'd tell me about
How your mama ran off and pawned her ring
I remember, I remember everything”

‘I Remember Everything’ finds Zach and Kacey looking wistfully back at their past relationship, admitting where things went wrong and paying tribute to the fleeting moments of joy they got to experience.

The opening line, ‘Rot gut whiskey's gonna ease my mind’, is pointedly reminiscent of Tyler Childers’ ‘Whitehouse Road’ lyric, ‘Rot gut whiskey gonna ease my pain’. Given the fact that Zach regularly cites Tyler as one of his biggest musical influences, this feels like an intentional tip of his ball-cap to the Kentucky trailblazer.

In trademark Zach Bryan fashion, he pieces together an assortment of lucid images, transporting the listener to the exact point in time when the couple were falling in love.

The ambience of the song carries an autumnal and possibly even wintery feel, but the vibrantmemories and flashbacks are situated in the summer, again highlighting the transition from warmth and affection to the tragic extinguishing of their flame.

Zach laces the titular line with lethargy and despair (“I remember, I remember everything”), emphasising how he desperately wants to banish the memory of his ex from his tired mind.

The opening verse is peppered with little easter eggs for avid Zach Bryan fans, with the ‘Burn, Burn, Burn’ crooner referencing an ‘88 Ford, most likely the Bronco in which Zach records acoustic sessions on YouTube, along with an allusion to his beloved Labrador, Jack Daniels.

“A cold shoulder at closing time
You were bеggin' me to stay 'til the sun rose
Strangе words come on out
Of a grown man's mouth when his mind's broke
Pictures and passin' time
You only smile like that when you're drinkin'
I wish I didn't, but I do
Remember every moment on the nights with you”

Here we get the first indications that the protagonist failed to live up to the standards his partner set him, seemingly due to the internal demons he was battling. Zach confesses, “Strangе words come on out / Of a grown man's mouth when his mind's broke”.

Alcohol is a recurring motif throughout ‘I Remember Everything’, adding levity to the happier moments they shared, as well as intensifying the darker patches the couple went through.

The lyric “Pictures and passin' time / You only smile like that when you're drinkin'” could well be a case of Zach Bryan looking at an old photo of the two lovers, and subsequently directing the following line to his ex - or, perhaps more likely, to himself.

“You're drinkin' everything to ease your mind
But when the hell are you gonna ease mine?
You're like concrete feet in the summer heat
It burns like hell when two souls meet
No, you'll never be the man that you always swore
But I'll remember you singin' in that '88 Ford”

The role played by alcohol in the relationship's demise is once again highlighted, this time from the perspective of Kacey Musgraves. The first line mirrors Zach's opening lyrics, contributing to the sense that we're listening in on a direct dialogue between the two.

“Rot gut whiskey's gonna ease my mind
Beach towel rests on the dryin' line
Do I remind you of your daddy in my '88 Ford?
Labrador hangin' out the passenger door”

Zach Bryan gets the final word, as he nostalgically repeats the first four lines. It's fascinating that he chooses to conclude ‘I Remember Everything’ by returning to the initial, sepia-tinged memory that sparks the song, suggesting our protagonist's mind is still haunted by the echoes of the love they once shared.

What have Zach Bryan and Kacey Musgraves said about ‘I Remember Everything’?

When the song was released to YouTube, Kacey Musgraves expressed her gratitude to Zach for featuring her on the song, “Thank you [Zach Bryan] for having me collab on this gorgeous song. I definitely pulled some of my own life into it”.

Kacey then went on to reveal that she'd been suffering from an illness when she hit the studio to lay down ‘I Remember Everything’, “Fun fact, y’all: I had full blown strep when I recorded this song but somehow I pushed through. So it’s confirmed: this song is sick as fuck”.

Although he is yet to speak about ‘I Remember Everything’ specifically, once the new album had been released, Zach Bryan shared a deeply personal message across his socials regarding the inspiration behind it, “I've got no grand explanation for these songs, I got no riddle in reasoning behind writing them...I just wrote some poems and songs that I want to share because I think they're special”.

He outlined, “Some of them are heavy, some of them are hopeful, but more than anything what's most important to me is that they're all mine...I wrote and produced an album that I would want to listen to. I self-titled it because I hear every cell of my being in it. Some of it's slow and low, some of it's reckless, some of it's loud, some of it's quiet, but it's all me at twenty-seven. I put everything I could in it and I am at a loss for words at what a blessing this life is”.

For the full lyrics to Zach Bryan and Kacey Musgraves’ ‘I Remember Everything’, see below:

“(Zach Bryan) Rot gut whiskey's gonna ease my mind
Beach towel rests on the dryin' line
Do I remind you of your daddy in his '88 Ford?
Labrador hangin' out the passenger door
The sand from your hair is blowin' in my eyes
Blame it on the beach, grown men don't cry
Do you remember that beat down basement couch?
I'd sing you my love songs and you'd tell me about
How your mama ran off and pawned her ring
I remember, I remember everything

(Zach Bryan) A cold shoulder at closing time
You were bеggin' me to stay 'til the sun rose
Strangе words come on out
Of a grown man's mouth when his mind's broke
Pictures and passin' time
You only smile like that when you're drinkin'
I wish I didn't, but I do
Remember every moment on the nights with you

(Kacey Musgraves) You're drinkin' everything to ease your mind
But when the hell are you gonna ease mine?
You're like concrete feet in the summer heat
It burns like hell when two souls meet
No, you'll never be the man that you always swore
But I'll remember you singin' in that '88 Ford

(Kacey Musgraves, Zach Bryan, Both) A cold shoulder at closing time
You were beggin' me to stay 'til the sun rose
Strange words come on out
Of a grown man's mouth when his mind's broke
Pictures and passin' time
You only smile like that when you're drinkin'
I wish I didn't, but I do
Remember every moment on the nights with you
Cold shoulder at closing time
You were beggin' me to stay 'til the sun rose
Strange words come on out
Of a grown man's mouth when his mind's broke
Pictures and passin' time
You only smile like that when you're drinkin'
I wish I didn't, but I do
Remember every moment on the nights with you

(Zach Bryan) Rot gut whiskey's gonna ease my mind
Beach towel rests on the dryin' line
Do I remind you of your daddy in my '88 Ford?
Labrador hangin' out the passenger door”

For more on Zach Bryan, see below:

Written by Maxim Mower
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