Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Luke Bell is a true cowboy. He often heads out from Nashville to Cody, Wyoming, to work on a ranch near the grave site of one of America's greatest showmen and fake cowboys, Buffalo Bill Cody. Every bit of the young troubadour is authentic. There's the accent. There's the drinking. There's the sweet-talking and carousing. There are the gentlemanly qualities, where the guy won't bat an eye when his grandmother just wants to get out of the house to see the high school basketball team play on a cold Friday night. There's the lonesomeness that's a birthright for all of the wandering souls. There's the heartbreak that comes from that. And then there's the laughing off of that heartbreak in that way that makes it evident that the heartbreak's not being laughed off at all. It's left an indelible mark on a man and it's being digested as a heavy meal would. It will makes its way through the system, but here, it's going to leave behind some markings. It's going to dwell for awhile, even as the singer cocks his hat to the side, smiles and throws back another whiskey with a generous thank you. The people that Bell writes about have bigger than life personalities, but they've been beaten down by life so many times, dragged through the brambles and across the gravel a bunch. They have sticky memories that probably require the bottle. It's a hard go of it, when you're out fending for yourself. Bell is, without a doubt, one of the most talented country and western songwriters working and his stories are of Hemingway quality, if Hemingway had wanted to be Hank Williams rather than an island drunk.