Between 2010 and 2017, Turnpike Troubadours released four records independently on Bossier City Records. That label name paid tribute to their now out of print first record, 2007's Bossier City, which was originally cobbled together as a way to sell music at live shows. Lead singer Evan Felker wasn't fond of that original release, but the band re-recorded a couple of those tracks later on, including the title track and "Easton and Main."
In 2019, the band took what was then an indefinite hiatus so that Felker could work on sobriety. The band is back, and they've already sold out multiple shows at Colorado's scenic Red Rocks Amphitheatre and Nashville's historic Ryman Auditorium this summer. Rumors continue to swirl about the possibility of new music, which is certain to enrich an already deep catalog.
Felker is a formidable storyteller. For years, many have speculated that much of the universe that his songs lie in revolve around the same muse: Lorrie. While only a few mention her by name, it's not difficult to imagine that the character is the same across other narratives. A few of those tracks are in this list.
While most any of the tracks released by these Oklahoma legends could fit nicely into this list, here are The Boot's picks for the 10 best Turnpike Troubadours songs, so far:
"Long Drive Home"From: 'The Turnpike Troubadours' (2015)
The lyrics of "Long Drive Home" explores the complications of when a relationship is over, but leaving each other’s lives is proven difficult.
“Oh and lovers they march by / But they ain’t like you and I / They all wanna be Hank Williams / They don’t wanna have to die”
"Gin, Smoke, Lies"From: 'Goodbye Normal Street' (2012)
The most straightforward “drinkin,’ lyin’ and cheatin’” track in the catalog, “Gin, Smoke, Lies” is about having the suspicion that things aren’t right, but not having the evidence or the courage to walk away.
“Well if you been true / Well if you been true / You better look me in the eyes / Well all I smell is cheap perfume / And gin and smoke and lies”
"Oklahoma Stars"From: 'A Long Way From Your Heart' (2017)
Co-written by Jamie Lin Wilson
, a frequent collaborator of Felker’s, “Oklahoma Stars” is about autumn nights that you never want to end, spent with people that you never want to part.
“Well the moonlight has a way of throwing shadows on the night / It would be a shame to waste the only place we had to hide / With the morning glowing bright and shining light upon our faces / We faded with the dawn and then we went our separate ways”
"Whole Damn Town"From: 'Diamonds & Gasoline' (2010)
"Whole Damn Town" finds our narrator wallowing in his own self-doubt and feeling pretty mediocre. He knows that his ex can date anyone in town. Is that ex Lorrie?
“Now all the cowboys in this bar / On and all those fools that play guitar / Well they’re well aware that we are through / The whole damn town’s in love with you”
"Every Girl"From: 'Diamonds & Gasoline' (2010)
Co-written by John Fullbright, another titan of the Oklahoma Red Dirt scene, “Every Girl” is about familiarity in a new, budding romance. Maybe the comfort there is nothing more than just that; maybe that space in life is a hole best filled by friendship.
“She’s a flighty good time buddy / In the corner of the bar / But she’d fight the devil for ya / Just for being who ya are / And she’s the last to cast a stone / Though she’d love to leave you mad / Oh she’s every friend I’ve ever had”
"The Housefire"From: 'A Long Way From Your Heart' (2017)
"The Housefire" marks the first time that Lorrie shows up in the Troubadours' catalog of songs. It’s difficult to say where this tale falls in her non-linear narrative. Here, the narrator introduces us to their child, and lays a foundation for their financially-strapped life together.
“We snuck away two nights ago / Rode around the logging roads / We’ve been stuck in a motor home about to fall apart / We finally made a go / Got dealt a heavy blow / She said I bet you’ll make it / It’s a long way from your heart”
"The Funeral"From: 'Diamonds & Gasoline' (2010)
Kids grow up and leave home. Things get busy and those full-grown adults don’t really look back. Time marches onward, a year turns into five and often, it slips away. From Diamonds and Gasoline, “The Funeral” is about that son that left and only now returned for his father’s funeral.
“And it’s comin’ home / It’s comin’ home / Ain’t nothing like a family to make you feel so damned alone / He shoulda brought flowers / Shoulda got daddy’s gun / Ain’t nobody waitin’ on the prodigal son"
"Diamonds and Gasoline"From: 'Diamonds & Gasoline' (2010)
From the debut album of the same name, “Diamonds and Gasoline” struggles with the idea of life without that certain person, and how it may not be a life worth having at all.
“And I would buy for you a diamond / Or myself some gasoline / If I can’t afford you darlin’ / Then I can’t afford to dream”
"The Bird Hunters"From: 'The Turnpike Troubadours' (2015)
Good friends are the best way to recover from a bad breakup. Sometimes, you just need to go hunting in the woods, somewhere you know. The song's narrator left town for a girl, but he’s back now, and the folks that were always there for him still remain. Was that girl Lorrie? Felker doesn’t make that clear here, but it certainly feels so.
“If you’d have married that girl / you’d have married her family / You dodged a bullet my friend”
"Good Lord Lorrie"From: 'Goodbye Normal Street' (2012)
A middle class love story about relationship dynamics, “Good Lord Lorrie” was on the band's second record Goodbye Normal Street. It’s probably all in the narrator’s head, but that’s a seed that was planted by Lorrie’s family. When it’s over, he’s left feeling that everything they said was right and he wasn’t good enough after all.
The narrative sounds like it was ripped straight from 90s country radio, but Felker’s way with words gives the tale modern life.
“Well Lorrie said her family used to have a little money / And they still act like they do / Well your daddy don’t think I’m fit to sit / In the same room with you / And if I ever set foot in Sevier County / Well your brother said he’d break my jaw / And here I sit with the dark haired daughter / Of Southwest Arkansas”