Track of the Day: 'The Devil Named Music'

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

How Spencer describes it:

The third-to-last song on Chris Stapleton’s Traveller consists of six slow-burning minutes in which the bushy-bearded singer makes his career sound like a pretty big bummer. He drives all night to Billings; he sleeps all day in Utah; he can’t remember stopping in Denver—it’s all a wasted blur because “I live my illusion that somebody needs me to play.” The chorus ends, “I miss my son / I miss my wife / But the devil named music is taking my life.”

A reader comments on Stapleton winning “Best New Artist” at the Country Music Association awards on Wednesday night:

True connoisseurs of country have known about this kid for a long time. My hope is that he will continue to make that particular strain of music that puts most of the mainstream stars in the shade. Stapleton sings from the heart in a painful and sometimes very discomfiting manner. He confronts the struggles of substance abuse especially well. His music is full of very real expressions of regret but he does it without being preachy or condescending to those still locked in the unforgiving grip of addiction. For that I say thanks.