This gritty dirge is from Hubbard’s most recent album, A. Enlightenment B. Endarkenment (Hint: There is No C). To a kid, an approaching tornado looks and sounds as though “God Himself was belchin’ and growlin’ and spittin’ on the ground.”
Patterson Hood wrote this song about the destruction left in a twister’s wake in 1988, 16 years before it appeared on modern Southern rock masterpiece The Dirty South. According to him, it was inspired by “two tornadoes, two Music Biz guys from Nashville, one empty theatre, one front-page headline, and ‘too many g——– train songs.'”
This one, a Top 3 hit for Wagoner in ’69, is a pretty jaunty tune even as it features a father warning “Hurry up, son, be quick, don’t stall/You know we can’t be slow/Take the kids and get below/If we don’t hurry it’ll surely get us all.” Spoiler alert: the father dies. Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver did an excellent version of this song for Lonely Street.
Bobby Braddock wrote this single that topped the charts in 1995. Okay, so technically it’s about some whirlwind of a woman and not a literal tornado, but I love the cheesy special effects in the video, and you can’t go wrong with Lawrence’s lovely voice. Oh, and you also can’t go wrong with Doug Sahm’s song that has the same title and is about an actual tornado.
Here Clark sings of a twister so powerful it’ll “blow the tattoo off your arm.” And that’s not even counting the paintless barn, the pickup truck stuck in the tree or poor Uncle Clarence, who was minding his own business in the outhouse ’til the storm dumped him in the yard.
Juli Thanki is the editor of Engine 145 and a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, Bluegrass Unlimited, and M Music & Musicians Magazine. In 2011 she received the International Bluegrass Music Association Print Media Person of the Year award.