White Man's World

Album: The Nashville Sound (2017)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • This song finds Jason Isbell and his band tackling one of the most prevalent social issues in the USA.

    I'm a white man living on a white man's street
    I got the bones of the red man under my feet
    The highway runs through the burial grounds
    Past the oceans of cotton


    "The song discusses my perspective on race and gender; I think its inspiration should be pretty obvious these days," Isbell explained to Consequence of Sound. "I think my job is to constantly evaluate my role in the human struggle for equality, without feeling guilt or shame for things I can't control."
  • Speaking on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, Isbell explained he wrote the song after thinking about his daughter the day following Donald Trump's election to the presidency.

    "The thing that popped into my mind first was 'Thank God she's an infant, because I don't have to explain any of this to her,'" he said. "She'll figure it out as she grows up, but if she was a couple of years older I would have to be like, 'OK, honey here's what happened today and this is why your father doesn't really know anything about human people in this country anymore."
  • One of the lyrics was inspired by Jason Isbell's wife, the singer-songwriter and violinist Amanda Shires.

    Mama wants to change that Nashville sound
    But they're never gonna let her


    Isbell explained to Rolling Stone: "Some idiot country-radio guy said that women were 'the tomatoes on the salad,' meaning they were there to kind of decorate country radio's actual revenue stream. That got me thinking how little value is given to women in that world. I've seen it with Amanda. She writes her own songs and tours, and through her experience I've seen how much harder it is for her. You don't get the same respect. It is not a level playing field by any means."
  • When Amanda Shires attended the 2017 CMA Awards, she wore a T-shirt with the "Mama wants to change that Nashville sound. But they're never gonna let her" lyrics proudly displayed.

Comments: 1

  • Danny Taylor from Murray Kentucky Big fan of your talent. Saw you at Ryman in Nashville Wednesday. Please leave political views out of your performance. Good people left and right. Conservative or Liberal. Don't do this to little Mercy. The Man upstairs Never goes on Vacation! IN AWE OF YOUR TALENT.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Desmond Child

Desmond ChildSongwriter Interviews

One of the most successful songwriters in the business, Desmond co-wrote "Livin' La Vida Loca," "Dude (Looks Like A Lady)" and "Livin' On A Prayer."

Stand By Me: The Perfect Song-Movie Combination

Stand By Me: The Perfect Song-Movie CombinationSong Writing

In 1986, a Stephen King novella was made into a movie, with a classic song serving as title, soundtrack and tone.

La La Brooks of The Crystals

La La Brooks of The CrystalsSong Writing

The lead singer on "Da Doo Ron Ron" and "Then He Kissed Me," La La explains how and why Phil Spector replaced The Crystals with Darlene Love on "He's A Rebel."

Gary Brooker of Procol Harum

Gary Brooker of Procol HarumSongwriter Interviews

The lead singer and pianist for Procol Harum, Gary talks about finding the musical ideas to match the words.

Early Days of MTV

Early Days of MTVFact or Fiction

If you can recall the days when MTV played videos, you know that there are lots of stories to tell. See if you can spot the real ones.

David Paich of Toto

David Paich of TotoSongwriter Interviews

Toto's keyboard player explains the true meaning of "Africa" and talks about working on the Thriller album.