Pallbearer

Album: Punching Bag (2012)

Songfacts®:

  • This minor key penned look at loneliness utilizes the metaphor of a man jilted by his lover to describe the feelings of a pallbearer. The song was inspired by the death of a distant relative of Turner's that he looked up to and admired. When the singer learned that his father had helped carry the casket at the man's burial, he wrote his feelings down on paper. "I thought of the emotions of being a pallbearer," he explained to Billboard magazine. "I've been one a couple of times, and it's one of the most lonesome things you can do - especially if you know the person you're carrying. I didn't write the song specifically about him, but it was inspired about his death and his life. I came up with an idea about how this man had been in love with a woman, and she just turned her back on him. His emotions were like that of being a pallbearer, bearing the loss of this woman and the hardship and the pain that she had caused."
  • The song features mandolin from bluegrass artist Marty Stuart and haunting harmony vocals from country singer Iris DeMent. It was the latter who was the inspiration for the Goo Goo Dolls rock hit "Iris." "I got thinking about what female I wanted to sing on this song because I just kept hearing a female voice singing behind me," Turner told The Boot. "I got thinking about Iris DeMent and her lonesome backwoods-y kind of twang to her voice. I just really felt like she'd be a great fit for this song and she agreed to do it. I was really surprised how she and I blended. Our voices just blended in a great way, so this song turned out to be really special."
  • Turner is the only credited writer on this song. He explained to American Songwriter magazine: "I couldn't bring myself to write that with anybody else. Nobody in this town knew Mr. James like I did. It's was just one of those ideas that I knew nobody else would really understand, and it was one of those ideas that I didn't think anybody else would like. I felt the same way about 'Long Black Train.' After I wrote 'Long Black Train,' I'm thinking 'Nobody's gonna care about this song.' I was wrong, and hopefully I'm wrong about 'Pallbearer.'"

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