ToC Critic’s Pick: Margo Price, ‘Hurtin’ (On the Bottle)’ [Listen]
Margo Price’s “Hurtin’ (On the Bottle)” is a steel guitar and heartbreak-soaked country song in the spirit of a man named Waylon and a woman named Loretta. The song starts with a punch and keeps swinging until the singer finds herself tired and lonely at the end.
It’s doubtful many who see Price live — including those watching on television when she performed on Saturday Night Live in April — will refrain from snapping their heads toward the stage at this song's start. When a woman announces that she’s put a hurtin’ on a bottle with pure conviction and defiance in her voice, as Price does, there’s no ignoring it. From there her aching story of love gone wrong spirals delightfully out of control. To use a very modern phrase for a very traditional country song, Price is a "hot mess."
The arrangement is pure, powerful and simple. The echo on Price’s vocals is reminiscent of Loretta Lynn on her Grammy winning Van Lear Rose album from 2004. That’s coincidence, but maybe not. Immediately the song separates itself slightly from the Nashville sound while staying true to the legends that built that sound decades ago.
Did You Know?: Third Man Records is Jack White's record label. He produced Lynn's Van Lear Rose, and while Price's album was finished when she brought it to him, it's easy to see why he was attracted to her sound.
Listen to Margo Price, "Hurtin’ (On the Bottle)"
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Margo Price, “Hurtin’ (On the Bottle)” Lyrics:
“I put a hurtin’ on the bottle / Baby now I’m blind enough to see / Been drinking whiskey like it’s water / But that don’t touch the pain you put on me.”
“I was veering for the white line of the shoulder / Faded lights all cast upon the wall / Baby I know we’ve been getting older / But you’re never too old to learn to crawl.”
“I met you with your thumb out in the alley / I know no one ever comes around here no more / Been looking for a peak inside the valley / Been searching for a key outside your door.”
“Been riding high on low expectations / It’s like singing loud with no one left to hear / I’ve been drinking from the well of inspiration / But it’s all falling on these wasted ears.”