1. With a set of music that T-Bone Burnett calls “the best batch of songs he’s ever brought to me”, Jakob Dylan takes a more intimate turn from the roots rock of the Wallflowers into a sound that evokes the mystery and mythology of the most rural parts of America. One of three songs from the Women and Country EP, which previews the full length of the same name, “Everybody’s Hurting” takes a common feeling of America and sets it in the musical context of its past.
2. Opening with an ominous rumble, followed by Dennis Crouch’s upright bass and rolling drums, a woozy fiddle introduces Dylan’s familiar rasp. He admits to worriedly pacing, asking God where he has gone, or “have we just left you bored?”. He continues the biblical imagery, referencing the “milk and honey” that he and his companions lack. Neko Case and Kelly Hogan join him for the chorus, which give a sonic lift to counter the lyrics of despair.
3. Dylan’s America is similar to the country that his father and The Band mined on The Basement Tapes, as well as the people that inhabited O Brother, Where Art Thou, another T-Bone Burnett vehicle — a land unforgiving (“the evenings are cold enough to pluck your feathers out”) and barren (“we’ve hunted these hills dry/we’ve long outlasted the winter and our last wood pile”). This image of “country” isn’t the commonly heard caricature of rural people, but a realistic portrayal of the hard times that Stephen Foster famously recalled. The parallel to our current recession culture is apparent, as Dylan remarks that “we’d sell this valley if we could”. His outlook isn’t without hope, as he understands that faith asks him to believe what he cannot see, but the reality of his surroundings makes that difficult.
4. Musically, Burnett envelops Dylan’s voice with his now-trademark sound, using his same band from both the Crazy Heart soundtrack and Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’ Raising Sand. The layers of acoustic, organic sound and perfectly placed harmonies make the song as musically compelling as the subject matter.
5. Jakob Dylan deserves to be judged on his own merit, ignoring the large shoes he has been expected to fill since birth. With “Everybody’s Hurting” (and the rest of this fantastic EP), he furthers his already-proven ability to make compelling music that stands on its own.
Been walking the dirt floor, my eyes are open Lord
Where did you go, have we left you bored?
On down this unholy well we rolled
Stirring barrels in hell to be warm
It’s further back down than to high ground
Only one thing is certain
We come from the country where the rain follows plow
And the evenings are cold enough to pluck your feathers out
We hear your engines roaring deep and loud
As we work the mules on this bludgeoned ground
We’ve hunted these hills dry
We’ve long outlasted the winter and our last wood pile
Only one thing is certain
Through rolling acres of boneyards we drift
Our spirits’ been broken been splintered to bits
Faith is believing what you ain’t so
My sweetheart we’ve got to learn to live with these ghosts
They can’t leave and we can’t go
We’d sell this valley if we could go up north
Where the sun sets dripping buckets of gold
Through snow topped thunderheads and rows of wind
Coming down this mountain how sweet salvation sounds
With our hands out like lowly pilgrims
As the old men death salute the young ones in
Already know what we’re just learning