Never The Same Song Twice

I knew Lori McKenna was going to be playing Nashville.

And, in case I haven’t mentioned it recently enough, I like the Lori McKenna. (And so should you.)

She played three dates there not that long ago, and I hated that I couldn’t go. There was a Friday night show at the Bluebird Cafe, much like the one I went to last year, but I was volunteering at the Space & Rocket Center. A little later, she was doing two more dates, but they were in the middle of the week.

But some things are worth doing. The latter of the two shows wasn’t going to work, but tickets to the other were only $5, so Rebecca and I headed up to Nashville.

The concert was actually a benefit event featuring several songwriters. Like, a lot of songwriters. I think we listened to like 15 other artists before Lori took the stage, each performing maybe three songs. Some of them, I plan to follow up on.

Lori wrapped up the show with two other songwriters, and it was an interesting performance. I’ve seen her live twice before, and each time it was what you would expect from an artist in concert — a mix of material from her latest album, some better known songs and some new unreleased songs.

This show, however, was nothing like that.

Lori was in Nashville because she’d been writing songs with the other two women, and they just showed off the songs they’d been writing. Lori sang only one song that had existed a week earlier, and even that was new since her last album.

While she’s a brilliant songwriter in her own right, she’s probably better “known” by the general public for songs she’s written for artists like Faith Hill, Sara Evans and Mandy Moore, among others. Some of those were very much Lori McKenna songs, others were songs that were very much written to sell.

From the comments made that night, these songs were very much the latter. And, barring her next album being very different from its predecessors, that would make since. Even though Lori was involved in their inception, these weren’t what I traditionally think of as Lori McKenna songs.

But, you know, that’s OK. Frankly, I would be first in line to buy an album of Lori doing this material. She’s a brilliant songwriter, but she also has an amazing voice. It was all kinds of awesome hearing her perform the songs.

It was also delightfully random. I hadn’t planned on going to the show, and, when I decided to at the last minute, I thought I was going to see the sort of Lori McKenna show I’d seen twice before. Instead, I saw her doing songs that she may never sing again. If I’d not gotten on the road, I may never have heard them in her amazing voice. I was glad I went, and I was glad I got to be there for them.

Which isn’t to say I don’t hope I get to hear her sing them again.