One of the songs me and little Z have been enjoying together recently is Cole Swindell’s “She Had Me At Heads Carolina”. Maybe I’d heard it before, but Swindell’s performance of it with Jo Dee Messina at the Country Music Awards really put it on my radar.
I’m a big JDM fan, and Heads Carolina, Tails California is one of my favorite offerings from her. And little Z and I have been listening to and thoroughly enjoying a lot of 80s and 90s female country singers recently. (On my list to do a separate post celebrating Jo Dee). Swindell’s song is a fun homage to the great original, and from what I can tell both artists have enjoyed the collaboration. The song has a bunch of co-writers credited, including the co-writers of the JDM original Tim Nichols and Mark Sanders given the reliance on that song, but also including Swindell. Again from what I can tell he’s enthusiastic about the song, so it’s nice to know he was a co-writer and I like to think his role was substantial although a number of others were also credited. (The Stereotype album that included this song has a bunch of big name songwriters but Swindell is a co-writer on the majority of songs).
As one would expect from Swindell, the song is catchy and poppy and at least trending towards if not in the bro-country sub genre but there’s more than enough that is genuine and sweet to map the song as a very good one. And of course the sampling of melody and lyrics of a really great original is the clincher.
The song hits a bunch of categories including the South, Raisin’ Hell, Love and Modes of Transportation, but the standouts are Musical Aspirations and Inspirations and Nostalgia. Sampling JDM’s original melody hits both categories, and then Swindell’s song also plays around with the lyrics of the original and self-references being a “90s country fan”.
This song doesn’t beat the original (an exceedingly hard task), but it is very good. Take a listen.