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Billy Strings Rides The Rails in "Watch It Fall"

“Watch It Fall” by Billy Strings, track six on his breakthrough album Home from 2019, isn’t a train song, but it rolls like one with sonic echoes of Norman Blake’s “Ginseng Sullivan” and Doc Watson’s “Greenville Trestle High.” And it becomes one in the video released last week. The film by the artists collective INDECLINE updates and refreshes familiar bluegrass concepts - riding the rails,  great American landscapes, saying something meaningful. But it’s an angry, almost radical folk song. You might say it rails against corporate larceny and public corruption, with the righteous fury of Woody Guthrie. In the video, post-modern hobos hop trains and tag them with 21st century cave paintings. The boxcars, like rusty galleries, roll on through scenes of stunning beauty and environmental destruction, carrying images of burning bridges, skeleton banjo players and mushroom clouds. It’s neither easy nor encouraging being young in 2020, and Billy Strings is figuring out how to describe that through bluegrass.


Craig Havighurst is WMOT's editorial director and host of The String, a weekly interview show airing Mondays at 8 pm, repeating Sundays at 7 am. He also co-hosts The Old Fashioned on Saturdays at 9 am and Tuesdays at 8 pm. Threads and Instagram: @chavighurst. Email: craig@wmot.org