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Jim Colyer

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My LBT http://jimcolyer.com/papers/entry?id=430;fa=2

Little Big town is made up of Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Jimi Westbrook and Phillip Sweet. They have been together as a group since 1998. Karen and Kimberly met in college in Alabama. Jimi and Karen are man and wife. Kimberly and Phillip are married but to other people. Each person in the group has a child.

Karen and Kimberly met at Samford University in Alabama in 1987. Their friendship forms the core of the group. They ended up in Nashville, where they were joined by Jimi and Phillip. The LBT girls are awesome! Karen inspired me to write a lyric called "Married To You." She became my Muse! Kimberly is famous for her curly hair. She has a cooking show called Simply Southern. Love those dimples!

Karen - September 28, 1969
Kimberly - October 15, 1969
Jimi - October 20, 1971
Phillip - March 18, 1974

Little Big Town found me in 2013. I had been hearing "Good As Gone" & "Little White Church" in karaoke bars but had no knowledge of the group or how good they were. "Pontoon" hitting number one had a major impact! Suddenly, they were superstars headlining the Tornado tour. When I found out they were appearing at the Ryman, I got my ticket before it sold out.

I see ABBA in Little Big Town! Two guys, two girls. A blonde and a brunette. Blonde Kimberly Schlapman sings high. Dark-haired Karen Fairchild sings low. Jimi Westbrook and Phillip Sweet contribute to the 4-part harmony that makes the group special. They have 5 albums dating back to 2002. They write much of their own material, and every song is a good one! Jimi and Phillip play rhythm guitar.

Little Big Town went from Mercury to Monument Records, where they released a self-titled album. Then came Equity and finally Capitol Records.

Little Big Town 2002
The Road To Here 2005
A Place To Land 2007
The Reason Why 2010
Tornado 2012

Wayne Kirkpatrick produced 3 albums. Jay Joyce produced Tornado. Tornado was number one for 5 weeks and certified gold by the RIAA. "Pontoon" won a Grammy for Best Country Duo/Group Performance.

Little Big Town's album cuts are as good or better than their singles. They are awesome with their great songs and relentless harmony! Not many groups have 4 lead singers.

I had no idea they were this good. They use an assortment of instruments: guitars, bass, drums, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, dobro and steel.

They incorporate every style: country, rock, pop, bluegrass and folk, and they put their own stamp on it. Theirs is the first music I have liked since Shania.

1 "A LITTLE MORE YOU" - Come on, baby! Love is water. Dive on in! She has given a little bit. He wants a little more. But he can never get enough!

2 "A PLACE TO LAND" is a catchy with that tempo I relate to. Kimberly does the vocal and sounds like Lee Ann Womack. Is there something intriguing about being in over your head, getting burned, selling your soul, drawing a line and crossing it, speeding up when you should slow down, stepping in it and always thinking it's gonna be forever? I have done these things over and over. It probably comes with being a songwriter. I will find a place to land at the last possible moment.

3 "A THOUSAND YEARS" has the most eerie harmony I have ever heard. "Whatever the future holds, forever in your eyes."

4 "BRING IT ON HOME" went to number 4 on the country singles charts. Phillip does the lead. It has The Eagles written all over it.

5 "CAN'T GO BACK" - LBT mentioned that this song is special to them. It is about living in the moment and the difficulty of doing so.

6 "FIREBIRD FLY" is memorable. A waitress takes off in a guy's car while he goes in to pay for gas. Male-bashing has been a theme in modern country music, and the LBT ladies get their licks in with "Firebird Fly" and "Tornado."

7 "FRONT PORCH THING" = Front porches are still important to country people. "Strumming on my old six string."

8 "GOOD AS GONE" has a video. Fairchild comes up the sidewalk to the hotel. She bursts into the room and tosses her cheater on the bed. The 4 convene on the rooftop to finish the song.

9 "GOOD LORD WILLING" - From making mischief in the moonlight on Chigger Hill to being cuddled up with Audra Mae, he runs from flashing blue lights and a red-faced boy friend.

10 "I'M WITH THE BAND" takes them to Memphis and New Orleans.

11 "LEAVING IN YOUR EYES" - The lyrics are a bit abstract and mysterious, but there is a good beat and great atmosphere, especially when Jimi sings, "No sign of life or anything."

12 "LITTLE WHITE CHURCH" - Fairchild struts out of the house, her dominatrix side asserting itself! The others are waiting on the bridge. Karen has an intensity about her that makes her the leader. Does she cock her eyebrow when she sings "free?" Come on! Suddenly, the 4 are on the bandstand. "No more chicken and gravy!" The groom failed to show.

13 "LIVE WITH LONESOME" is wistful. Karen is a goddess. Jimi is a lucky guy.

14 "LONELY ENOUGH" - I do not pray. If I did, it would go something like this. She believes in God but is angry with him for taking her love. This song grabbed me quick!

15 "LOOKING FOR A REASON" has Fairchild take the lead. She is Little Big Town's power singer, and the one who had to step up if LBT was going to experience the meteoric rise surrounding the Tornado album. Karen divorced her first husband to marry Jimi Westbrook in the group. "Looking For A Reason" says it all. This lady takes no crap! Country music is in its dominatrix era, and Fairchild fits the bill. Willful and demanding! "YOU BETTER DO IT NOW!!"

16 "MEAN STREAK" has haunting harmony. This guy is cold as the concrete, tough as a backstreet, like a frat boy at hell week, rough as a dry creek, sharp as a hawk's beak, coming fast as a stampede, hard as an oak tree, mad as a queen bee, hot as Mojave, tight as a kite string, bad as a black sheep. Kimberly is adorable!

17 "NIGHT OWL" is track #11 on the Tornado CD. It is essentially a duet but features all 4 singers. The man is wandering back home to his girl. We journey with him, making our way past skyways and steeples, county lines and water towers, rolling fields and pastures, through lonely and deserted streets. It is turning darker as stars begin to fall. His night owl is waiting, staying up and praying for the bright headlights. "Night Owl" is a pretty song, not to be overlooked. Kimberly has a beautiful voice. The background vocals are like the hooting of an owl.

18 "ON FIRE TONIGHT" is a party song, a history makin' party! Lots of "bets."

19 "ONLY WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT" is a life lesson LBT's songs are different from Shania's. They are different in substance and tone. They are deeper, the flip side of the coin.

20 "RAIN ON A TIN ROOF" - A watery song! Not only is her love like rain on a tin roof, but her eyes are like the ocean and her heart is a river. He is thankful for every drop from this summertime storm.

21 "RUNAWAY TRAIN" is about a guy who runs off to Las Vegas with the preacher's daughter. After gambling his money away, he and the "runaway baby" return home. The preacher curses his soul in the name of the Lord.

22 "SELF-MADE" is a wicked song of survival. Karen and Jimi take the lead. Karen said that the harmony is the real lead singer. "Who you are is who you trust." "It's a legacy that you take to the grave."

23 "SHUT UP TRAIN" made me think of my mother after she left Aiken Road. I hate trains! Karen sings the lead in an exceptional black & white video.

24 "SOMEWHERE FAR AWAY" is a "leaving song." She is leaving Abilene on her way to New Orleans, too tired to get a job. Not sure about "whispers on the window."

25 "THAT'S WHERE I'LL BE" has geography. We visit the Arizona Plains, the Mississippi River, the land of hurricanes, the hills of Tennessee and Cisco Beach. Cisco Beach is on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. More importantly, this song is about a man's need for a woman and the extent to which he will go to be with her. Jimi does the lead, and he must be thinking of his wife Karen. If I had a woman like Fairchild, I would surely do what it takes to bridge the great divide and follow her love to the edge of the earth. Jimi has seen the lonely side of life, and he knows Karen's worth cannot be measured. She is his salvation! This reminds me of my own song called "A Man Needs A Woman." Without a woman, a man is only drifting, a heart without a home. This is the kind of love and devotion a woman wants and the kind that will keep her. Little Big Town wrote this along with their producer, Wayne Kirkpatrick.

26 "THE REASON WHY" is the title track of the 4th album. It is an upbeat love song, and Jimi and Karen sang it to each other on The Late Late Show.

27 "WELCOME TO THE FAMILY" introduces nightmare in-laws. Grandpa's the local sheriff. Uncle Bill's the undertaker. Cousin Jesse's just crazy. Momma's got a real bad temper, and daddy's got a shotgun. The nephew is a hunter.

28 "WHERE THE PAVEMENT ENDS" is the first track on the Tornado album. Jimi wanted it that way. They opened their concert at the Ryman with it.

29 "YOU CAN'T HAVE EVERYTHING" sets the perfect country scene: wildflowers, a willow tree and a driveway leading to their dream house. The only thing missing is love! Kimberly sings this traditional country tear jerker.

30 "YOUR SIDE OF THE BED" is a duet and should do well in karaoke bars. There are 3 things on Jimi's side of the bed: a picture of their wedding day, a clock that don't work, and the Bible that his daddy gave. The picture and the clock tell us that their relationship has stalled. It is stuck in the past. The Bible is history on a grand scale. Memories!

There are 2 things on Karen's side: a burned down candle flame (symbolizing their burned out love) and a letter Jimi started and couldn't finish. The marriage is in trouble, no surprise since country music is often about divorce.

This song is full of questions. The couple no longer communicate. When she prays, she prays for herself and him separately. It is not a prayer for the two of them together. Questions fly! How'd you get so far away? Aren't you even gonna make a sound? Are you lonely like I'm lonely? Are you still awake? He lies down quietly, not reaching, a million miles away.

Some of their best songs have one word in their titles:

1 "BONES" - It starts with "What goes around, comes around." I hear my uncle James. Some finger pointing! A technique they use at the end of certain songs is to return to the opening lines.

"Bones" is different from what Little Big Town usually does. There is a gothic flavor, something like we might find in New Orleans, perhaps in an Anne Rice novel, voodoo and all that. There are ghosts and demons. There are sins and a wicked moon. Somebody is going to get what they deserve. Maybe it is Music Row! The night brings retribution, the time when reason might give way to superstition.

2 "BOONDOCKS" - Country themes pervade the lyrics. They really did grow up in the sticks. They sing of gravel roads, tin roofs, creeks, muddy water, trucks, trains, tractors, pastures, bulls, cows, deer, possums, hawks, queen bees, crickets, copperheads, the moon and stars and sheets on the line.

3 "LOST" - They wrote it about Kimberly's first husband, who died of a heart attack. "canyon of loneliness," "waterfall of tears"

4 "NOVOCAINE"- This was the first to rope me in at youtube. They performed it at the Grand Ole Opry. "Make you numb to the pain."

5 "PONTIAC" - "Another long, lonely night." "Lies as big as a Pontiac, no more hanging on to what will never be."

6 "PONTOON" - This is a great song and a well-produced record, a very charming piece. Big in the karaoke bars! The lyrics consist of a set of instructions or commands. It had to be Fairchild.

7 "SOBER" - A song called "Sober" would normally be about sobering up. Not this one! Kimberly wants to die drunk on love! What a chorus!

8 "STILL" - This is a perfect love song.

9 "TORNADO" - Fairchild really changes the weather with "Tornado." She had to become the alpha female if Little Big Town was going to hit the top. Title track of their 5th album.

10 "TRYIN" - People come to Nashville from all over the country with the dream of "making it."

11 "VAPOR" is about the lust for life in the midst of mortality. We are a vapor, a transient mist here for a moment and gone forever. I recall kissing my dad after the stroke. Perhaps we have all done something like that. It is true! Photos show that our parents were as young and younger than we are now. And even "now" will slide into eternal nothingness.

"Sitting by the bed side, held his hand and kissed his face
Then he closed his eyes, and I watched him slip away
Seems like only yesterday, he was young as I am now
But soon now will be the past, yeah, time is turning fast"

There are issues of regret and legacies. "Did I hold who should've been held so they remember just how that felt? Did I say what should be said? Will I wake with no regret?" How will our kids remember us? Will we leave behind love or bitterness?

I an reminded of Shakespeare's "The Tempest." Prospero says "We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep." Little Big Town compares our brief lives to "fire and paper." "Never too much and never enough."

12 "WOUNDED" - "Battered and broken and bruised." "Tore up inside over you." I understand! Kimberly has the more traditional country voice. The women complement each other well.

Little Big Town has done a number of covers and put them on youtube. They call this project "Scattered, Smothered & Covered." Among the songs covered are "Rolling In The Deep," "Grenade" & "Moves Like Jagger."

Relationships are at the heart of Little Big Town's catalog, both married and unmarried. Their music is thoughtful, reflective. It has depth.

People compare LBT to The Eagles and Fleetwood Mac. In fact, LBT is better than those older groups. Every song on the 5 CDs is a gem. Great harmony and gorgeous women!

If ABBA were reincarnated as a country group, they would be Little Big Town. The blonde and the brunette! Phillip could pass for Benny Andersson's twin. Sexy Karen Fairchild is getting most of the hits. She is a great singer, nailing blue notes at the end of every line.

They are a reservoir of talent. The songs are melodic while having a beat. There is emotion and enthusiasm in every song.

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