Single - Lainey Wilson - Watermelon Moonshine
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‘Watermelon Moonshine’ by Lainey Wilson - Lyrics & Meaning

July 13, 2023 10:45 am GMT
Last Edited December 19, 2023 10:33 pm GMT

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Lainey Wilson - ‘Watermelon Moonshine’

Label: BBR Music Group

Release Date: October 28th 2022

Date Sent to Country Radio: May 30th 2023

Album: Bell Bottom Country

Producer: Jay Joyce

Songwriters: Lainey Wilson, Josh Kear and Jordan Schmidt

Chart Performance:

  • No. 22 on Mediabase
  • No. 21 on Billboard Country Airplay
  • No. 87 on Billboard Hot 100
  • No. 16 on Billboard Hot Country Songs

The Background:

Few genres portray nostalgia as effectively and evocatively as country music.

Lainey Wilson's 2023 single, ‘Watermelon Moonshine’, is a testament to this, with the sweet, rose-tinted ballad quickly becoming one of the many fan-favourites to emerge from the Louisiana native's acclaimed 2022 record, Bell Bottom Country.

The much-loved track was shipped to Country Radio on May 30 2023, with many fans and critics expecting ‘Watermelon Moonshine’ to emulate the chart-topping success of her previous single, ‘Heart Like A Truck’, and her HARDY collaboration, ‘wait in the truck’.

Now, with ‘Watermelon Moonshine’ receiving an accompanying set of warm, bittersweet visuals on July 11, the single continues to bloom into one of the undeniable songs of the summer.

Long before ‘Watermelon Moonshine’ was selected as a Country Radio single, many fans were introduced to the alluring ballad when Lainey Wilson performed it during her appearance in Yellowstone Season 5 towards the end of 2022.

Lainey's on-screen character, Abby, sang ‘Watermelon Moonshine’ during the Yellowstone ranch's branding season celebration, and the romantic ode to young love serves as the perfect precursor to Abby and Ryan's burgeoning relationship.

Although Lainey Wilson has never cited the song herself, ‘Watermelon Moonshine’ has often been viewed as an homage to Deanna Carter's iconic 90's country anthem, ‘Strawberry Wine’.

Nods to ‘Strawberry Wine’ can be found in its wistful portrayal of teen love, its gentle, laid-back composition and the fact that both songs revolve around the recurring motif of a fruity, alcoholic drink.

The Sound:

In terms of the instrumentation on ‘Watermelon Moonshine’, the show is well and truly stolen by the hazy, ethereal slide guitar that kicks off the song before Lainey Wilson has even uttered a word.

Refreshingly, Lainey Wilson, Josh Kear and Jordan Schmidt all refuse to succumb to the modern temptation to switch up the melody or beat on ‘Watermelon Moonshine’, in an attempt to maintain the attention of younger listeners.

Instead, the first verse bleeds seamlessly into the hook, with Lainey's charismatic Louisiana drawl coasting breezily across the easy strum of the acoustic guitar, coupled with the longing cry of the seductive slide that drifts in and out of focus.

Lainey Wilson has shown she can shift through the gears and deliver an explosive, ferocious hook on other stand-out Bell Bottom Country tracks such as ‘Grease’, ‘Road Runner’ and ‘Smell Like Smoke’.

However, ‘Watermelon Moonshine’ benefits from the deftness and intricacy with which Lainey approaches the song, ensuring she brings each character to life through her unhurried portrayal.

The combination of the woozy instrumentation and Lainey's vocal delivery helps to give ‘Watermelon Moonshine’ its nostalgic ambience, with the listener feeling as though they are looking through a blurry, sepia-tinged lens into the couple's fairytale romance. The fact that the track clearly draws inspiration from ‘Strawberry Wine’ only adds to the classic, retro atmosphere of ‘Watermelon Moonshine’.

The Meaning:

Much like Carter's ‘Strawberry Wine’, ‘Watermelon Moonshine’ pivots around the titular drink, which serves as the catalyst for the young couple's first taste of romance.

The watermelon moonshine serves as a metaphor for the two lovers, with the fun, fruity beverage capturing the innocence and frivolity of their youth, while still being underpinned by the first subtle traces of maturity, as represented by the fact that it's alcoholic.

Lainey opens by setting the scene of a boy and girl who cross paths “right after senior year”, and feel an immediate connection. In the familiarly homely country-song surroundings of a tailgate and a blanket, the two fall deeper in love as the track unfurls.

“It was right after senior year
Just before the summer disappeared
We went a-ridin' them old farm ruts
Hangin' out on the gate of his truck
We threw a blanket 'neath the sunset
Bein' brave as 18 gets
We gave each other more than our hearts
With the help of a mason jar”

The official music video adds a new layer to the song, with the on-screen couple meeting at a barn-dance, before trying to sneak away for some alone time at various points in the story.

They're nearly always thwarted, as the flashing lights of a police car put an end to the party. Then, when the boy gets hired as a ranch-hand for the girl's father, they slip off to make out in one of the stalls, before her dad catches them and promptly sends the boy on his way.

“Drinkin' watermelon moonshine
We cut the burn with a little lime
Parkin' back in them kudzu vines
I was his and every bit of that boy was mine
Too young to know what love was
But we were learnin' on a sweet buzz
There's never nothin' like the first time
And mine's always gonna taste like
Watermelon moonshine”

Touchingly, the video opens with an older version of the girl digging up that fateful mason jar from the couple's original meeting. By the time we get to the end of the ’Watermelon Moonshine’ video, we see that the unearthed mason jar contains a scrap of paper, with a message from the boy scrawled across it, “Don't forget me”.

“I don't remember where we got it from
I just remember feelin' all grown up
Takin' pulls like it ain't no thing
Never told him it was my first drink
But I told him that he was the one
You're so sure when you're that young
You think you got it all figured out
And now I laugh when I think about”

It's as heartwarming as it is bittersweet, with Lainey lacing ‘Watermelon Moonshine’ with powerful declarations of love and passionate, starry-eyed lyricism. On the surface, it appears to simply be a charming, sugar-coated tale of two people falling for one another and experiencing their first sexual encounter.

However, Lainey and her co-writers add a sobering edge of reality to counter each idealised moment of magic, as she repeatedly underlines that this romance was never going to last (“Too young to know what love was / But we were learnin' on a sweet buzz”).

I thought that high would last forever
But that ain't what it does
Maybe we were drunk in love
Or maybe we were just...

Drinkin’ watermelon moonshine”

Nonetheless, there's no sense of regret or sorrow at the fact that their brief relationship didn't last, as Lainey looks fondly back on all the beautiful memories they made as a result of their innocent, untainted perception of love (“There's never nothin' like the first time / And mine's always gonna taste like / Watermelon moonshine”).

What has Lainey Wilson said about ‘Watermelon Moonshine’?

When the music video for ‘Watermelon Moonshine’ dropped, Lainey Wilson added some context to the story behind it, “This song is about the young, wild, crazy love that we all hope to experience. From locking eyes for the first time, to playing spin the bottle with an Ole Smoky mason jar, to being too crazy about each other to tame it, I am so happy with how Rachel Lynn Matthews and Sam Sherrod brought the vision to life through their portrayal of their innocently passionate characters”.

When talking to ABC earlier in 2023, Lainey Wilson joked when asked why she chose to write about this drink in particular, “Well, first of all, have you ever had any Watermelon Moonshine? It only takes a couple of sips and you're feeling right!”

During a 2023 appearance on the Bobby Bones Show, Lainey Wilson explained why she opted for ‘Watermelon Moonshine’ as the single to follow ‘Heart Like A Truck’, “Well, I got to play it on Yellowstone, and I feel like at my live shows right now, it seems like it's the one that's raising its hand and I feel like I always try to make my decisions based off of that”.

Lainey went on to reveal how important ‘Watermelon Moonshine’ is to her, as well as sharing how she uses the single as a way to make sure she never loses herself amidst all the praise and plaudits, “It's a song that takes you back, and for me, I feel like I'm in a place in my life right now where I have to make a conscious decision every single day to remember where I come from. [I have to] remember to plant my feet on the ground any way that I can, and I'll tell you, ‘Watermelon Moonshine’, for me, even just singing it, it reminds me of who I am to my core”.

For the full lyrics to Lainey Wilson's ‘Watermelon Moonshine’ see below:

“It was right after senior year
Just before the summer disappeared
We went a-ridin' them old farm ruts
Hangin' out on the gate of his truck
We threw a blanket 'neath the sunset
Bein' brave as 18 gets
We gave each other more than our hearts
With the help of a mason jar

Drinkin' watermelon moonshine
We cut the burn with a little lime
Parkin' back in them kudzu vines
I was his and every bit of that boy was mine
Too young to know what love was
But we were learnin' on a sweet buzz
There's never nothin' like the first time
And mine's always gonna taste like
Watermelon moonshine

I don't remember where we got it from
I just remember feelin' all grown up
Takin' pulls like it ain't no thing
Never told him it was my first drink
But I told him that he was the one
You're so sure when you're that young
You think you got it all figured out
And now I laugh when I think about

Drinkin' watermelon moonshine
We cut the burn with a little lime
Parkin' back in them kudzu vines
I was his and every bit of that boy was mine
Too young to know what love was
But we were learnin' on a sweet buzz
There's never nothin' like the first time
And mine's always gonna taste like
Watermelon moonshine

I thought that high would last forever
But that ain't what it does
Maybe we were drunk in love
Or maybe we were just...

Drinkin' watermelon moonshine
We cut the burn with a little lime
Parkin' back in them kudzu vines
I was his and every bit of that boy was mine
Too young to know what love was
But we were learnin' on a sweet buzz
There's never nothin' like the first time
And mine's always gonna taste like
Watermelon moonshine
Watermelon moonshine”

For more on Lainey Wilson, see below:

Written by Maxim Mower
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