The Highwomen Perform ‘Gay Country Song’ Titled ‘If She Ever Leaves Me’ in Live Debut [Watch]
The country and Americana supergroup the Highwomen made their live debut on Day One of the 2019 Newport Folk Festival on Friday (July 26), and they included a song titled "If She Ever Leaves Me" that challenges the traditional norms of the country genre.
"If She Ever Leaves Me" provides a new twist on an old theme, beginning with two lovers in a bar, where one of them watches a man sizing her partner up. She addresses the man directly, telling him that his attention will surely be wasted on her partner.
"I've loved her in secret, I've loved her out loud / The sky hasn't always been blue / It might last forever, or it might not work out / But if she ever leaves me, it won't be for you," the Highwomen sing in the chorus.
The powerhouse female supergroup consists of Amanda Shires, Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby and Maren Morris. Carlile is openly gay and married to a woman in real life. Shires' husband, Jason Isbell, played guitar during the Highwomen's show on Friday, and he told the crowd that having Carlile take the lead brought the song an air of authenticity that it might have lacked when he wrote it with Shires and Chris Thompkins.
"Initially I thought this song would be one of heterosexual country love," Isbell recalled, until "it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, Brandi Carlile would sing this song, and it could be a gay country song. So then we wrote it from that perspective."
"And then, what I hadn't thought about was, we're going to have to take this song to Brandi Carlile ... which is kind of like taking my civil rights movie to Spike Lee," Isbell joked.
The Highwomen are set to release their self-titled debut album on Sept. 6. They released the album's lead single, "Redesigning Women," on July 19, and on Friday they also shared another studio track from the upcoming album, an inclusion anthem titled "Crowded Table."
The Newport Folk Festival runs from July 26-28 at Fort Adams State Park in Newport, R.I.
See the Highwomen + More at the 2019 Newport Folk Festival