Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

Dierks Bentley ft. Brothers Osborne – Burning Man

We hope everyone enjoyed themselves at the festival!


Leela Grace: Nevada has 248 mountain ranges, the most of any state, or at least that’s what I was taught when I worked there. When you drive past Reno across the state on Highway 50 — the officially-designated Loneliest Road in America — you pass through maybe five towns before you reach Utah. In one of those towns, at dusk on the main street, I looked in my rearview mirror and saw a deer standing in the middle of the road. In Reno you meet Burners at the farmer’s market, at the co-op, they’re driving buses that are decorated to look like whales over the winding roads from Tahoe. More people come into town as August wears on, more people ready to head out to the playa and make Black Rock City, for a ten-day period, the third-largest town in Nevada. There’s nothing in this song of statements that points to community living, self-love or joy or whatever it is you can get with six hundred dollar tickets and a trip to the desert. But when I listen to it I hear the sound of Highway 50, the twelve or thirteen eight-hour trips I made back and forth across the vast nothing of that state, when you can crack your windows after rain and the smell of sage is like a presence in itself, when the horizon might as well be riding shotgun with you. A person can get desperate, out in the nothing. You can lose yourself. And sometimes you have to turn your radio up and scream along to whatever I statements come along to prove to yourself that you’re still here, you’re not lost, you’re just going somewhere new.

Crystal Leww: Burning Man as an annual/event/festival/life event has inspired eyerolls from me. Dierks Bentley and Brothers Osbourne, by the looks of this music video, have referenced the festival and attempted to create an uplifting ~event~ of sorts. It has also inspired an eyeroll, and Real Masculine Man Struggle country music is still just one of the most unappealing corners of the genre.

Will Adams: Dierks’s got one hand in his pocket, and the other is giving a peace sign (because Burning Man, duh). The “I contain multitudes” conceit is appealing, but the reliance on signifiers hinders it — the title in particular is far more evocative when read metaphorically as opposed to in reference to the festival. Still, the big production gives urgency, and I’d rather have Dierks wax lyrical on himself than on women.

Thomas Inskeep: Driving, uptempo statements of intent from Bentley seem to work the best for him — “I’m a little bit holy water but/Still a little bit Burning Man,” goes the hook, rather than sappy endearments like previous single “Woman, Amen.” Brothers Osborne provide able assistance here as well, taking the second verse. There’s also a shit-hot guitar solo that’s actually allowed to go on for longer than four bars, and the heavy, percussive rhythm makes this not only a driving song but one great for driving. And somehow, past its lyrics, “Burning Man” evokes the high deserts of California smartly. This is easily Bentley’s best single in some time.

Jonathan Bradley: He’s a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll. Bentley’s catalogue of his internal dualities threatens to cast his “Burning Man” narrator as the kind of libertarian corporate bro I presume does show up to the festival that eventually appears in the song’s bridge. The song would be stronger if the connection were only implied, and lyrics like “One day I’m the exception/most days I’m just like most” do enough on their own to imply a conviction that a weekend in the desert where you trade a necktie for cargo shorts is evidence of a countercultural ethos. But there’s a deeper sense of spiritual anxiety in this lyric, and Dierks’s performance draws more on the raw tension of his conclusion: “I’m a little bit holy water, I’m a little bit burning man.” A churning rhythm bolstered by panicky bursts of guitar affirms that these contradictions aren’t ones he greets with complacency.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: The guitars are fiery, the drums are fierce, and the hook is certainly memorable, but it’s all bogged down by lyrics that are far too simplistic for the Inspiration it tries to arouse.

Taylor Alatorre: The best Dierks Bentley songs are the ones that successfully straddle the line between familiar and formulaic, streamlined and shallow. On both counts this one tips more toward the latter, but it’s made worthwhile by some unexpected brute force strumming and a guitar/fiddle tag-team by John Osbourne and Tim O’Brien, wherein each instrument does a pretty good imitation of the other. For a song about resolving the dichotomies of wild youth and responsible middle age, it might be a bit too well-balanced for its own good.

Alfred Soto: Two months ago, I wrote that this cautious first-tier country star would never risk his “brand” and release a Brothers Osborne duet with a title recalling the largest bro-fest in America, a place from which broken relationships flow like drugs in the desert. Well, he did, and it sounds like a Bakersfield Lindsey Buckingham with dreams of being in Old Dominion. Bentley can be boneheaded often, but goddamn it he got me now.

Reader average: [8] (2 votes)

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3 Responses to “Dierks Bentley ft. Brothers Osborne – Burning Man”

  1. Is this Bentley’s highest ranking TSJ entry?

  2. holy shit leela thank you for taking me back to my home state. incredible writing

  3. Up On The Ridge (which might be my favourite single by him) got a 7.14 and Bourbon In Kentucky got a 7.33, so not quite, Alf!

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