You Should Listen To: Pistol Annies

cover photo for Pistol Annies Interstate Gospel album. The three girls are in the woods, holding hands, while looking up to the sky.

Officially listed as county music on Wikapedia, the Pistol Annies are much more than what “country” might conjure up in your mind. They’re sometimes southern rock, sometimes blues, sometimes more Roots/Americana. Other times, they’re undeniably nothing else: invoking twang and tempo reminiscent of old school country tunes. Their storytelling ranges from heartbreakingly real to just plain fun, all with whip-smart lyrics and well-crafted melodies. There’s never an issue with balancing the spotlight, either, between Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe, and Angaleena Presley.

While I may not like most of what’s on the country charts these days, I do have a soft spot in my heart for country music. The Pistol Annies found that spot and burrowed in comfortably with three endearing studio albums.

To sum up the vibe and characters the band plays (assuming they’re not entirely autobiographical songs): bleach blonde white trash glam heartbreaking sugar baby wine mom house wife. And I am here for it. Even if I cannot relate to the antics being described, the ladies of Pistol Annies make it accessible. Being a heartbreaker has never sounded more fun. A dead-end marriage sounds tragically normal. Bad decisions sound like the beginning of good friendships.

If you want to hear a fan’s perspective on the best songs to listen to as an introduction to the band, you’ve come to the right place! Here are my Top 10 Pistol Annies songs. Unlike last time, I’m putting them in my personal favorite order.

10. “Lemon Drop – “Sucking on the bitter to get to the sweet part”, this little ditty is about all the minutia and struggles of every day life. Paying off your junky car, being elbow-deep in laundry all the time, racking up debt just to get by–all of this but still grinning and bearing it to get to the otherside some day. I’d say a lot of us can relate to this.

Standout lyric: “I got thrift store curtains in the windows of my home; I’m payin’ for a house that the landlord owns. Bought a TV on a credit card; it’ll take me ten years to pay if off.”

9. “Got My Name Changed Back” – A fun, upbeat tune about changing your name back after a divorce, this song is middle-aged, divorcee glam. Hell yeah, girl, get your name back.

Standout lyric: “I played to win, lookin’ back it’s funny; I broke his heart and I took his money!”

8. “I Feel A Sin Comin’ On” – Sultry and sexy in delivery and melody, this song is what you’d hear on an old West drama as the local brothel’s Madam seduces the county sheriff to gain his trust, and then betray him.

Standout lyric: “Give me tall, dark, and handsome, mix it up with something strong. I feel a sin coming on.”

7. “Sugar Daddy” – This blues-tinged number is another sultry and confident number that absolutely makes being a gold digger seem like a desirable trait. I really want a show about three women charming every man in Dallas and going on extravagant adventures and living in luxury without paying a dime of their own money.

Standout lyric: “My sugar daddy’s got a pool in the back, got a rifle in the rack of his Cadillac. Drivin’ me crazy.”

6. “Best Years of My Life” – A song about settling but accepting it, this song is sad, but somehow not incredibly depressing. It’s a sad situation, but the main character is just rolling with it. You know it’s mediocre but what else are you gonna do about it? Yeah, can you imagine, that’s actually not a super depressing song!

Standout lyric: “I was looking forward to, staying here forever cuz you asked me to. Didn’t think that I could do better so I settled down, in this ten cent town. It’s about to break me.”

5. “Hell on Heels” – Maybe THE quintessential Pistol Annies song, since it was their first single. It sums up their vibe pretty well. Seducing men, getting what you want, spending money, bluesy-rootsy music that makes you want to walk through a bar while wearing your best high heels. Even if you’re a guy, listen to this and tell me you don’t want to strut around downtown dressed to the nines.

Standout lyric: “I got a pink guitar, Lincoln Towncar from ole what’s-his-name I met at a bar. Got a high rise flat in Hollywood from a married man, wasn’t up to no good.”

4. “Unhappily Married” – This one is also about settling and accepting it but makes it sound so much fun. I love the rhythm and cadence of the chorus when the drums come crashing in. Delivery of the verses is so subdued, too, which makes the chorus that much more explosive. The bridge is the big payoff with a crescendo-ing guitar, almost as if to represent the escalating fights between the couple’s story.

Standout lyric: “We’ll both play our parts in this disaster; I’ll be the bitch and you’ll be the bastard.”

3. “Housewife’s Prayer” – Unlike “Best Years”, “Housewife’s Prayer” is depressing as fuck. I’m not one for being a housewife, or praying for that matter, but I relate to my core with the frustration and desperation here. It has always struck a chord with me.

Standout lyric: “I’ve been thinkin’ about settin’ this house on fire. Can’t see a way out of the mess I’m in and the bills keep getting higher.”

2. “Milkman” – With a title like “Milkman”, I expected it to be about a child’s questionable paternity or having a sordid affair. Instead, this song posits what would the singer’s mother be like if she had loved the milkman. She might have been happier, a little less uptight, and developed interests and passions of her own. As it stands, the mother has nothing going on in her life besides housework and loving her daughter and husband. In a lot of ways this song is my favorite because it’s such an interesting concept with great lyrics.

Standout lyric: “If mama woulda smoked her a cigarette, maybe she wouldn’t judge me. If she’d a done more than the dishes, untied those apron strings. She’d be sitting in her sundress on the back porch mixing whiskey and sweet tea. Mama never did think twice about feelin’ this free.”

1. “Stop Drop and Roll One” – This song will be stuck in my head for the rest of time just from writing it here. It’s not only catchy (a lot of their songs are catchy), but it’s catchy in a really specific way. The verses give and the chorus takes, but they flow into each other seamlessly. The song is always building and growing into the next line, the next bar, but it never reaches a peak. Normally that is a bad, annoying thing, but it works in this song and I don’t know why. Someone smarter than me please explain. The stream-of-conscious lyrics are reminiscent of partying and good times, while also going with the flow.

Standout lyric: “Sometimes the drifters are daisies; Sometimes the sane ones are crazies. One’s got the Tylenol, one’s got the Adderall, one’s got a drink in her hand.”

–Yours Truly, Queen Dopamine


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