Recording information: Circa (1958).
Light in the Attic's 2016 compilation Hillbillies in Hell: Country Music's Tortured Testament (1952-1974) digs deep into odd, forgotten recesses of country music, discovering independently pressed laments about dope and the devil. Two of the names will be familiar to country fans -- Margie Singleton, with her inspirational anthem "Jesus Is My Pusher," and Cowboy Copas, who warns "Don't Shake Hands with the Devil" -- but most of the featured 18 tracks echo other better-known country singers, usually Johnny Cash. What matters is neither the singer nor the quality of the song, but rather the subject and the feel. Everything here is just slightly askew, sounding like a 45 stashed away on a dusty jukebox in a forgotten roadhouse but the lyrics push this into an odd, uneasy dimension. This dissonance is what's compelling, of course: it's either laughable or haunting -- signs of the deep, strange undercurrents running throughout American culture in a time of upheaval. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine