Loretta Lynn - "Lay Me Down" feat. Willie Nelson (Singles Going Steady)

by PopMatters Staff

1 April 2016

"Lay Me Down" is a moving, inspiring, and meaningful piece of country music, qualities of which the modern genre seems to have nearly lost all connection to.
Photo: David McClister 

Emmanuel Elone: This is a song that every modern country artist should hear. With a very basic fingerpicking pattern and a violin that plays on one’s heartstrings, Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson duet wonderfully as they reminisce on their younger days and childhood memories. Their voices are raw and passionate, adding weight to every word that they say. Just like Bowie’s song “Lazarus”, “Lay Me Down” is a tear-jerking goodbye from some of the best musicians of the 20th century, and all we can do is thank them for sharing their feelings with us in such an awe-inspiring and gorgeous song. [9/10]
  

Chris Ingalls: Two absolute legends, both octogenarians still at the top of their game. Lynn’s career enjoyed a nice boost in 2004 thanks to a comeback album produced by Jack White, and this time around, Full Circle continues in that same vein—simple country music with little to no adornment. Instead of being an exploitative, guest-stuffed affair, there’s only two duets on the album: one with Elvis Costello, and this song, with the incomparable Willie Nelson. The song has the makings of a classic, just acoustic instruments accompanying two beautiful, unique voices. “I’ll be at peace when they lay me down,” the chorus goes. The voices sound a bit world-weary, but I wouldn’t wait for them to lay down just yet. Beautiful. [8/10]

Pryor Stroud: “Lay Me Down” unfurls over an acoustic strum-whisper that conjures up such a precise form of nostalgia that it almost shuts you out; the memories it holds are not generic, universally applicable memories, but memories specific to Lynn, experiences that are hers to share, keep, or editorialize as she pleases. However, she communicates them so vividly that it’s hard not to feel like you’ve tapped into the same emotional registers she’s tapping into here: retrospective melancholy, anticipatory relief, the sense that one’s death will be at once an inconsequential blip and a welcome reprieve. “When they lay me down someday / My soul will rise and fly away,” she sings in tandem with Willie Nelson, and it’s difficult not to picture the burial ceremony she’s imagining: some earth has been dug up behind her father’s house near the coal mine, her childhood home, and the soul departing from her body is pleased to discover that, as this laying-down proceeds, everything seems to push on resolutely without her. [7/10]

Jared Skinner: Two country legends collaborate and the result is exactly what you would expect: a reflective, sorrowful yet celebratory meditation by two aging masters of a genre. The song tranquilly follows a guitar line plucked by Willie Nelson on his beat down, legendary mistress, “Trigger” as Loretta Lynn and Nelson take turns and eventually share gorgeous choric melodies. The result is a moving, inspiring, and meaningful piece of country music, qualities of which the modern genre seems to have nearly lost all connection to. [8/10]

Chad Miller: Lynn and Nelson’s voices both complement each other’s well. It’s weird to hear such a sweet sounding song about death. The theme was fine, but some lyrical diversity would have been nice. It’s like the whole song was a competition to see who could say “Life is hard” in more ways. [6/10]

SCORE: 7.60

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