GOSHEN, Ind. – Each week, a Globe-pal (AKA a DJ at 91.1 the Globe) takes a song of their choosing, and dishes out a healthy review to be sent out and posted on globeradio.org/music.

The Globe Track of the Week is an excellent way to keep up with the new tunes presented weekly on 91.1 the Globe, the best college radio station in Indiana.

“When We Were Close” begins as many songs do – with a guitar riff. But this particular track by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit begins with a rather simple, yet effective one that carries throughout the intro of the song. 

The guitar starts out solo before the drums come in, adding a solid level of kick.

Isbell picks it up from there, and his vocals don’t disappoint, but the lyrics aren’t for the faint of heart.

Those familiar with the Americana scene will quickly pick up on scattered references throughout the song to Justin Townes Earle (JTE), a singer-songwriter who passed away of an overdose at the far-too-young age of 38 in August of 2020.

Now, nearly three years after his death, Isbell laments about the time that the two spent together; chronicling their pre-fame years with lines like ‘I got a picture of us back when we were close – before we had somebody picking out our clothes’. 

From there, Isbell manages to give the listener a personal look at JTE’s style, noting how he always used to wear his Sunday best and how the shirt he wore on stage likely cost more than his guitar.

Isbell asks the question: ‘You were bound for glory and grown to die – oh but why wasn’t I?’ – Perhaps a reference to his own struggles with sobriety that he overcame in the early 2010’s. 

Even someone without any previous context of what Isbell’s singing about can tell; there’s ghosts in the words of Jason Isbell on this track. And once you find out why, the emotional punch of the song is that much stronger.

Whether for the simple, yet catchy guitar riffs, or for tragedy-laden lyrics, I highly recommend making “When We Were Close” your next obsession spin.

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