Written by Reid Thompson. 15 April 2015.
In some ways, “Good Lord Lorrie”, off of the Turnpike Troubadours’ 2012 album Goodbye Normal Street, is an incredibly unoriginal song. A classic tale of forbidden love ending in heartbreak: a theme that dates back hundreds of years and one that has been remade, restyled, and rewritten a countless number of times through every form of media. From Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to James Cameron’s The Titanic, the romantic tragedy appears in entertainment everywhere.
Because of this, the story behind the song “Good Lord Lorrie” runs the risk of slipping into the incredibly vast and always growing category of love story songs gone wrong. Without incredible song writing tactics and appealing effects, the song could easily be written off as not anything special. In the song, the narrator is in love with Lorrie, a girl that apparently comes from some money across the Oklahoma/Arkansas state line. After a brief relationship, Lorrie breaks up with the narrator, regretting ever getting involved with him in the first place. Evan Felker, lead singer of the group and writer of the song, uses interesting strategies in composing and performing the song in an attempt to distinguish this love story from the ranks.
While the song is constructed with a slightly unique structure, it is not enough to make the song a hit on its own. With a verse-chorus structure, but uniquely ending on a verse, “Good Lord Lorrie” sends the listener details about the story in the verses and delivers Felker’s raw emotions through the chorus sections.
Felker’s true brilliance as a songwriter and his distinguishing skills lie in the lyrics of the song. For those that are familiar with how the vast majority of Turnpike Troubadours’ songs play out, and even for those that are not, the heart break and loss at the end of the song seems to be inevitable from as early as the first few lines. Unlike some Hollywood fairytales like Cinderella that end in almost impossible fashion, Felker sticks to his authentic Americana roots nearly religiously.
While this style of hinting at a disappointing ending might be slightly unique to Felker, it still does not separate him from the pack. Ironically, the effect that makes “Good Lord Lorrie” stand out might not be something Felker does at all, but rather something he intentionally leaves up to each individual listener.
Felker puts the power in the hands (or rather ears and minds) of his audience in two distinct ways. First, he adds incredibly elaborate and detailed visual elements into the song to not only allow his listeners to hear the song, but to also create a lasting, real, and visual image. According to Thomas D. Mooney, editor-and-chief of the Lubbock based “New Slang Music”, details like “Lorrie lit a cigarette and smiled and waved the smoke out of her face” build upon themselves and help the audience create something more than just what is given.
Second, and along the same lines, Felker gives no insight on why this relationship went to hell. As listeners, we know the two characters come from different classes and family opinions are a factor, but until the end of the song, only hints in earlier lyrics lead us to believe that something is going to happen. And when Lorrie breaks, she does it with full emotion and no explanation. This effect from Felker gives this song, story, and genre of story telling a dynamic untouched by those before him. Felker provides no clue as to why the relationship blew up, leaving it to the audience to fill in the missing pieces.
Every choice Felker makes in writing this song is related to his target audience. As was discussed in the album analysis of Goodbye Normal Street, the Turnpike Troubadours are a band for the every day American living through tough times in Middle America. This song is so effective because the character that loses Lorrie is incredibly relatable to the audience. Some listeners may even know the heartbreak of loving someone they cannot have due to social politics.
Whether we do it intentionally or not, we as humans are attracted to things with which we know and feel comfortable around. For many Americans, the story behind “Good Lord Lorrie” is familiar, real, and hits close to home. Maybe Felker does not include the details behind the breakup because they are not important: the story about the unobtainable, whether it is love, work, or money, is what people know and can relate to.
For the Turnpike Troubadours and Evan Felker, “Good Lord Lorrie” is about so much more than a messed up relationship. It’s about a life that so many Americans know and live. According to Trigger, the creator, editor, and head writer for “Saving Country Music”, the song “gives us all a situation and characters to relate to.” This ability to not only tell a story, but to bring the characters, setting, and emotions of the story to life is how the Turnpike Troubadours’ make “Good Lord Lorrie” a standout romantic tragedy song.
|0:02||Intro||Drumroll||A brief drumroll starts the song|
|0:25||Verse 1||“Lorrie lit a…”||A soft guitar and drums accompany Felker’s dominating voice|
|0:37||Instrumental||Dominating Fiddle||A fiddle takes the lead in this instrumental portion|
|1:01||Verse 2||“Well Lorrie said…”||Second verse sounds similar to the first with a soft beat and background music|
|1:48||Chorus||“And I’ve been…”||The chorus starts right as verse 2 ends and Felker sings with more passion now|
|1:59||Instrumental||Harmonica||Felker plays the harmonica in this portion|
|2:23||Verse 3||“Well D-Queens…”||Verse 3 sounds similar to the other previous two verses|
|3:10||Chorus||“Well I’ve been…”||The chorus starts right as verse 3 ends and again is sang with more passion|
|3:21||Instrumental||Harmonica||Again Felker plays the harmonica|
|3:58||Verse 4||“Well Lorrie said…”||This verse sounds slightly different and Felker sings it with more emotion than the previous verses|
|4:14||Closing||“Well Goodnight…”||Felker repeats this phrase a couple of times to end the singing portion of the song|
|5:01||Instrumental||Fiddle||Fiddle and Harmonica play the song out|
“Review – Turnpike Troubadours “Goodbye Normal Street”.” Saving Country Music Review Turnpike Troubadours Goodbye Normal Street Comments. 15 May 2012. Web. 9 Mar. 2015. http://www.savingcountrymusic.com/review-turnpike-troubadours-goodbye-normal-street.
Mooney, Thomas D. “Turnpike Troubadours Song Tournament: Day IV.” New Slang. WordPress, 11 Apr. 2013. Web. 6 Apr. 2015. <http://newslanglbk.com/2013/04/11/turnpike-troubadours-song-tournament-day-iv/>.