Mike Sudhalter | March 18, 2009
Anyone can write a song about a hero or someone who's so much in love.
That's what makes songs about villains so special. Johnny Cash became one of the most popular artists in any genre - partly because of his hit, "Folsom Prison Blues", written from the perspective of a prisoner.
We didn't really get to know the prisoner in that song, other than his regret for not listening to his mother's advice and longing for freedom.
In Corey Smith's "Leaving An Angel", we hear from a father who is deserting his wife and kids. This is a terrible thing to do. But Smith conveys the depression, hopelessness, regret and sorrow of this character.
We rarely hear these types of songs, but this is a common problem in American society.
It's a great song, but probably won't get much recognition outside of Smith's fan base. It's four minutes and forty-five seconds of hearing from a character that's very hard to have sympathy for - but the character tries to win the sympathy of the listener and the desertee in - "when I'm gone, I hope you mention my name. I hope you care about the man after you place the blame."
The first time I listened to the song, I wondered if it was about suicide - which would add a whole 'nother element to things - but then I realized that it's just about a deadbeat husband/father.
He also makes sure to praise the desertee in saying, "you'd starve yourself to feed this family....I'm sick and shameful, I'm leaving an angel."
So the listener finishes listening to the song having much more sympathy for the desertee, than the deserter. Which is a good thing, I think.
I don't know if anyone other than Smith could pull off a song like this. His style of singing and narration makes you want to keep listening.