Sometimes a band drops a song that clicks, resonating in some primal part of the human soul. Sometimes a band drops an 11-minute jam single that you can really stankface to, like an alcoholic getting a good strong whiff of Smirnoff, or a junkie spying a little bag full of white powder. Sufficed to say, sometimes a band drops a mean, nasty, disgusting, repulsive, abhorrent little single, and all you can do as a listener is sink deeper and deeper into the couch, and say things like “Hell yeah, man,” and “Yeah, this is the first single off the new album,” and “Dude, listen to that keyboard work,” to a roommate who literally could not care less.
All Them Witches, a prolific Tennessee-based stoner rock outfit (known for their frankly incomparable hits “The Marriage of Coyote Woman,” and “Funeral for a Great Drunken Bird”) has done the aforementioned. “Blacksnake Blues,” the first single off their planned 13-song album “Baker’s Dozen,” scratches an itch that can only be described as “primordial.” Great God in Heaven, since the first man plucked an apple off an ancient and gnarled tree and sentenced us all to unending torment, or when a shriveled, shrunken Titan turned his body into the world we all know and hate, there have been songs and then there have been songs, you know? “Blacksnake Blues” is a song – it could be the theme to “True Detective” or the anthem for a biker gang cruising the pockmarked highways of West Texas – it could have been the funeral anthem for Huey Long or the wedding march for William Faulkner. (Was he married? Hell, I don’t know.)
Between the guitar work of Ben McLeod, the cigarette-stained vocals and subtle basslines of Charles Parks, Robby Staebler’s consistent drum accompaniment, and perhaps most importantly, Allen Van Cleave’s tuned down keyboard, “Blacksnake Blues” becomes not only an 11-minute jam band freak-out dark night of the soul anthem, but a soundtrack to a mind on the road. If Jim Morrison somehow slipped his earthly obligations and is still, somehow, roaming the southern highways in a Chevelle, I like to think this is a song he would have guested on, with ululating, smoker’s voice lyrics about a “mean black snake, sucking my writer’s tongue.” Lord have mercy.
All of this probably comes off as pretentious, and certainly a little annoying – to which I’d say, “Just listen to it, man. Just check it out, dude. Yeah, bro, everybody’s left already, I know I’m scaring the ‘hoes.’ Just listen to the song, player.”
At the end of the day, this is a song made to be played loud and under the influence. It’s a jam band piece of work, and it’s a standout single from a band that, for me, has never disappointed.