The Highwomen Debut ‘Gay Country Song’ ‘If She Ever Leaves Me’ at 2019 Newport Folk Festival [WATCH]
The Highwomen made their official debut at the 2019 Newport Folk Festival on Friday (July 26), bringing with them a set of unreleased material, including the self-described "gay country song" "If She Ever Leaves Me." Readers can press play above to watch Amanda Shires, Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby and Maren Morris perform the track.
Shires and her husband Jason Isbell -- who backed the Highwomen during their Newport Folk Festival set -- wrote "If She Ever Leaves Me" with their friend Chris Thompkins. Before the quartet performed the song, Isbell explained that he initially "thought this song would be one of heterosexual country love, and then one day, I was on the elliptical ... and it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, Brandi Carlile would sing this song, and it could be a gay country song ...
"And then, what I hadn't thought about was, we're going to have to take this song to Brandi Carlile," Isbell added, "which is kind of like taking my civil rights movie to Spike Lee."
Carlile takes lead on "If She Ever Leaves Me," which finds a woman addressing a man in a bar: "I see you watch her from across the room / Dancin' her home in your mind," she sings, before telling him that he'll never wind up with the object of his affection because, as she puts it in a later verse, "Well, that's too much cologne / She likes perfume."
"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," goes the chorus. "But if she ever leaves me, it won't be for you."
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"If She Ever Leaves Me" is one of 12 songs on the Highwomen's self-titled debut album, which is due out on Sept. 6; the four women have already shared the studio versions of the song "Crowded Table" and their debut single, "Redesigning Women." The supergroup came to be, in part, because of a desire to foster connections between female artists and help continue the strong tradition of women in country music that the collective's members enjoyed growing up.
"Almost all of us are mothers of young girls. And we all grew up listening to country music. We recognize that we're in a time right now where our daughters don't have the same country music heroes that we had," Carlile explains. "Our goal is simply to elevate all women and completely abandon the concept of competing with one another. So that we can let as many women through the door as possible, and give our girls those country music heroes that we all had."
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