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Album: The HighwayReleased: 2013
In our interview with Holly Williams
, she said that this was the song she was most proud of on her third album The Highway
The song is about Holly's grandparents, but not her famous one, Hank Williams Sr. Rather, this song is about her grandparents on her mother's side, telling the story from the perspective of her grandfather. Holly's grandmother, June Bacon White, died in 2009, and the song's lyrics are an accurate portrayal of her life. "Even the order of the children work out in the lyric," says Holly. "The cook, everything. So that's the song that is really hard for me to get through when I sing it live. Usually people come up to me crying. It wrecks the family emotionally. But it's such a sweet memory to me of my childhood and what my grandparents left. So that's definitely my most proud songwriting moment, I think probably ever."
The song features backing harmonies from Gwyneth Paltrow, who though better known as an actress has also had a measure of success as a singer. She had a country hit with the title track
from the Country Strong
soundtrack and her cover of Cee-Lo Green's "Forget You
," which she performed on Fox TV's Glee
, reached #11 on the Hot 100.
This song was signed, sealed, and just about delivered when Holly decided she wanted to rework it. She told us: "What happened with that song is I kept singing it acoustic. Gwyneth Paltrow's a good friend of mine. We were at her house this summer. My husband and her and I were sitting around, and we sang it together. And we were like, We have got to cut it like this. It has not been cut right. We've got to do this. Just acoustic, raw."
Paltrow's husband, Chris Martin of Coldplay, also encouraged her to do the stripped-down version of the song. They ended up recording the new version in Los Angeles, and then flying back to Nashville to do more work on the album. Holly says the her husband (and musical collaborator, Chris Coleman), "lost 15 pounds" during the ordeal, as Holly became very particular about the song, eventually ending up with a version stripped to just vocals and two guitars.
The song's music video combines real images of Williams' grandparents, along with her singing. "We compiled tons of old family footage to disperse throughout this video that was shot as a live performance," she said. "It meant so much to me to make this video."