In 'Drinkin' Problem,' an Enabler Finds Clarity

Thursday's Pick

  • Song: "Drinkin' Problem"
  • Artist: Lori McKenna
  • CD: Unglamorous
  • Genre: Country
Lori McKenna

Lori McKenna covers one of country music's most familiar topics while sidestepping clich├ęs or moralism. Andrew Southam hide caption

itoggle caption Andrew Southam

Songs about alcohol and its effects are common currency in country music. But in "Drinkin' Problem," Lori McKenna goes in a different direction, sidestepping the usual moralistic dimension in favor of getting under the skin of someone for whom the issue is an immediate concern.

The song's narrator is a teetotaler, but in a way, that's immaterial; McKenna still sings in the slow, desperate voice of someone struggling to force out her call for help in the brief flash provided by her moment of clarity. She tries so hard to avoid sentimentality that it's easy to hear her meticulously following the script that she knows she's supposed to follow. She admits as much, with her references to "the man down at the meeting" and "this book I've been reading."

But even if that suggests that this conversation has been a long time coming, it's not an intervention, exactly. Despite acknowledging the joint ownership of the situation, McKenna takes responsibility only for herself, singing the line "I think I've got a drinkin' problem" like it's an admission of her own defeat and nobody else's. It's the cry of an enabler who's hit rock bottom.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

Purchase Featured Music

Unglamorous

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
Unglamorous
Artist
Lori McKenna
Label
Warner Bros.
Released
2007

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.