Keb’ Mo’ has never shied away from speaking his truth. Today, the five-time GRAMMY winner released “The Medicine Man,” his first new recording since 2019 and his debut collaboration with acclaimed, GRAMMY-winning American roots string band Old Crow Medicine Show.
Listen to “The Medicine Man” HERE.
Keb’ Mo’ and Old Crow Medicine Show keenly understand that even the harshest medicine goes down easier when served up with a heaping spoonful of sugar, and while “The Medicine Man” takes a rather sober view of the chaotic state of our world, it delivers the message via wry observations wrapped in a buoyant, foot-stomping melody that all but begs the listener to sing along.
You better lock your doors, turn on the news
The whole damn world is singin’ the blues
The President lost, but he don’t wanna go
Mother Earth, she needs a little help you know
Everybody’s doin’ the best that they can
We’re all just waitin’ on the Medicine Man
“I was taking some time out at our house in California with my family,” remembers Keb’. “We were locked in and staying away from people. Doing Zoom writing appointments, watching Dr Fauci on TV doing interviews, and it sparked some ideas. This was one of those songs that just came to me, and quickly. I woke up early one morning and wrote the whole thing in about 15 minutes.”
Keb’ Mo’s activism over the years has been well-documented, and he has long tackled tough subjects in his music. His 2019 album Oklahoma, which won the GRAMMY for Best Americana Album, addressed issues such as immigration, racial tensions, women’s rights, and the environment.
He found a kindred spirit in Old Crow’s Ketch Secor. In the past year alone, the band has responded to current events with a trio of smart, heartfelt singles that have inspired critical praise and furthered the band’s reputation as one of the most authentic and compelling artists to emerge from the roots music community.
Secor recalls, “I first met Keb’ three years ago backstage at the Grand Ole Opry and sensed immediately that we needed to work together. I'd been listening to his music since the late ‘90s, so this recent collaboration is something of a two-decade-long full circle of intentions.”
Despite their best efforts, their respective commitments and demands on their time kept them from working together until very recently.
“I called [Keb’] up two autumns ago and asked if he'd hold some dates to play some live shows together and he said, ‘Can't now, but soon.’ Well, soon enough came around again this past December when he sent me a brand new song he'd written a few hours before. The song captured the urgency of these stark times like no other I'd heard. It didn't mince words. No sugar coating, no placebo effects, rather it was a ‘give it to me straight, doc’ kind of a tune, which told an objective truth, one undiluted by affiliation, vantage point, persuasion.”
“The song shook me up and I wrote back to him that night in December, ‘We got to rush this out soon. Real soon.’ Old Crow jumped right into gear, recording Keb's powerful song of the times within days of the ink drying. It was a joy. It felt dutiful, meet and right, urgent, essential. And harmonious.”
Keb’ reflects, “Maybe it was the subliminal use of the word ‘medicine’ that made me think of my friend Ketch from Old Crow Medicine Show, so I called him and said, ‘I’ve got a song for you guys.’” He notes, “In essence, the song is about things that are out of our control, but we should do our best to be good people and citizens and spread love instead of germs.”