One Black Sheep

Album: Just Kids (2015)

Songfacts®:

  • According to Mat Kearney, this autobiographical Just Kids track "just kind of happened." He explained to Paste magazine: "On this record I just kind of kept asking the question, like 'What kind of record would Paul Simon and Kanye West make together?' I feel like that song kind of captured the Paul-Simon-meets-hip-hop-production type of song that we were going for."
  • The song tells Kearney's story growing up in Eugene, Oregon. He said: "It references our Volkswagen van driving around town… it's all right there. It talks about when me and a buddy left college and said 'Hey, let's drive to Tennessee and see what happens' and we jumped in the back of his Chevy truck that had no air conditioning and stopped at Fort Kearny and slept under the stars."

    "We headed to Nashville and what was only supposed to be a month ended up turning into this whole thing that I'm still doing now. So it's really kind of my journey from kid to now - my modern-day 'Nothing Left to Lose.' You know, that first song I had that kind of told my story as a musician. This is kind of 'Nothing Left to Lose' 2.0, 2015."
  • The black sheep is an idiom used to describe a person who is regarded as a disgrace to the family or community, or as a failure in it. The term stems from a sheep with black rather than white coloring, which makes it stand out in the flock. Such sheep were formerly looked on as bearing the Devil's mark.

    In popular music rebellion and being the black sheep of the family often go hand in hand, so it is a frequently used idiom by lyricists. Examples include:

    "Black Sheep" by Gin Wigmore ("I'm a bad woman to keep. Make me mad, I'm not here to please. Paint me in a corner but my color comes back. Once you go black, you never go back. I'm a black sheep.")

    "On A Plain" by Nirvana ("Love myself
    Better than you. I know it's wrong. So what should I do? The black sheep got blackmailed again. Forgot to put on the zip code.")

    "Rule Breaker" by Ashlee Simpson ("Some say I'm a black sheep. Cause I like to sleep late. Wake Up round 3 o'clock. Drinking till my tummy ache.")

    "Seasons in the Sun" by Terry Jacks ("Goodbye Papa please pray for me. I was the black sheep of the family. You tried to teach me right from wrong. Too much wine and too much song.")

    "Thank Me Now" by Drake ("Shout out to my city though I hardly be in town. I'm the Black Sheep, but Chris Farley wears the crown.")

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