Zach Bryan‘s genre-leading American Heartbreak album is powered by “Something in the Orange,” a strolling heartbreak ballad that’s forcing its way on to country music charts.
While the self-penned folk song has just cracked the Billboard Country Airplay chart, it’s been perched for weeks at No. 6 or No. 7 on the Hot Country Songs chart, which considers streaming and sales numbers. This kind of out-of-nowhere success story typically comes with a punchy, pop-friendly viral song (think Walker Hayes‘ ”Fancy Like”) but “Something in the Orange” is anything but fancy.
Some of Bryan’s fans may hate reading this, but the closest comparison between “Something in the Orange” and another charting song from the last half-decade would be “Betty,” Taylor Swift‘s, 5-minute-long folk song from 2020. Both make use of a harmonica interlude. Both feature lyrics several layers deeper than 98 percent of what one hears on county radio. Both reward the effort it takes to understand the performance.
It’s Bryan’s lyricism that sets him apart. His memories are vivid and unique (But when you place your head between my collar and jaw / I don’t know much, but there’s no weight at all) and his performance personal. The way he uses color recalls the old days when men like John Hartford would speak of a gurglin’, cracklin’ cauldron from which they’d sing (“Gentle on My Mind”).
Will that kind of songwriting work at radio in 2022? That’s probably not the right question to be asking.
Did You Know?: Yellowstone fans may recognize Bryan’s voice, as he had two songs placed in Season 4. “Something in the Orange” also feels readymade for the show.
Listen to Zach Bryan, “Something in the Orange”
Zach Bryan’s “Something in the Orange” Lyrics:
It’ll be fine by dusk light I’m telling you, baby / These things eat at your bones and drive your young mind crazy / But when you place your head between my collar and jaw / I don’t know much but there’s no weight at all / And I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t / ‘Cause if I say I miss you I know that you won’t / But I miss you in the mornings when I see the sun / Something in the orange tells me we’re not done.
To you I’m just a man, to me you’re all I am / Where the hell am I supposed to go?
I poisoned myself again / Something in the orange tells me you’re never coming home / If you leave today, I’ll just stare at the way / The orange touches all things around / The grass, trees and dew, how I just hate you / Please turn those headlights around.
I need to hear you say you’ve been waitin’ all night / There’s orange dancing in your eyes from bulb light / Your voice only trembles when you try to speak / Take me back to us dancing, this wood used to creak.
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