Music history is filled with artists we lost all too soon due to drug abuse. Many artists have also been in a dark place, then find their way out and use their experience to inspire great songwriting. Jason Isbell is one of the more well-known examples coming out of Nashville, but today’s artist behind “The Best Song You’ve Never Heard” also wrote about the darkest times in his life.
Ruston Kelly was born in Wyoming, Ohio and worked his way towards becoming a songwriter in Nashville. He fought drug addiction for a long time before getting clean and working on his own music.
He released the first taste of what was to come with Halloween, an EP featuring the song “Black Magic.” He was dating fellow Nashville musician Kacey Musgraves, who collaborated with Ruston as he worked on his first album. In 2018, Ruston released Dying Star on Rounder Records, which featured songs about fighting addiction and other heartfelt emotions.
“Mockingbird” was inspired by a 6 a.m. wakeup in a Dominican hotel where Kelly realized that he needed to end a cyclical pattern of a doomed relationship. He’s a wordsmith in the song; listeners can relate Kelly’s experience to their own.
A building guitar and harmonica starts the song, evoking hope and the happiness of a relationship before getting into the more stressful parts of that relationship not working. The hurt and emotion comes through loud and clear on the chorus.
This is one of those deep emotional songs that expresses the pain in a way that gives you a release and helps you feel better.
Jeff is a KXT weekend host and the Manager of Radio Operations for KERA 90.1 and KXT 91.7.
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