10 Songs, 42 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The chorus of “Life Is Messy”—the title song of Rodney Crowell’s 1992 album—is perhaps the most blatant expression of desperation and confusion he's written: “Life is messy/It’s trying to depress me/They can kick you in the nuts/They can hit you where it hurts/Don’t get down on your knees.” Later in the song, Crowell sings about how he feels like a young Elvis Presley for “the way they put you in a cage and they push you out on stage.” Ironically, the music on this album is some of brightest and most focused of Crowell’s career. There's barely a trace of the twangy country that made him a superstar in the late '80s; it's replaced by the booming roots rock of Don Henley and Steve Winwood, both of whom make cameos on the album. Though it's musically friendly, Life Is Messy gets its soul from the despair running through it. “Maybe Next Time” and “Alone but Not Alone” are painfully confessional songs, but the best—and the most personal—is “I Hardly Know How to Be Myself,” a declaration of guilt cowritten by Rosanne Cash, from whom Crowell would soon divorce.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The chorus of “Life Is Messy”—the title song of Rodney Crowell’s 1992 album—is perhaps the most blatant expression of desperation and confusion he's written: “Life is messy/It’s trying to depress me/They can kick you in the nuts/They can hit you where it hurts/Don’t get down on your knees.” Later in the song, Crowell sings about how he feels like a young Elvis Presley for “the way they put you in a cage and they push you out on stage.” Ironically, the music on this album is some of brightest and most focused of Crowell’s career. There's barely a trace of the twangy country that made him a superstar in the late '80s; it's replaced by the booming roots rock of Don Henley and Steve Winwood, both of whom make cameos on the album. Though it's musically friendly, Life Is Messy gets its soul from the despair running through it. “Maybe Next Time” and “Alone but Not Alone” are painfully confessional songs, but the best—and the most personal—is “I Hardly Know How to Be Myself,” a declaration of guilt cowritten by Rosanne Cash, from whom Crowell would soon divorce.

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Ratings and Reviews

5.0 out of 5
6 Ratings
6 Ratings
SW168 ,

What Kind of Love

I think “What Kind of Love” is one of the most overlooked country songs ever. It’s one of my all-time favorites, but no one else seems to know about. Even back in its day, I rarely ever heard it on the radio. I don’t know how it didn’t get more attention. I think it should’ve crossed genres like Garth Brooks’ “Shameless” (around the same time, if I recall correctly). There are some other good songs on this album, too, but this isn’t one of those albums I can listen to over and over. Some of the songs get tiresome after a while.

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