Certain Songs #1337: Nikki Lane – “Highway Queen”

Album: Highway Queen
Year: 2017

I know I’ve said this before, but not only is there plenty of great country music being made these days, the vast majority of it is being made by women, even if none of it is getting played on country radio, where a glance of the playlists usually show domination by dudes with two or three syllable names with maybe Carrie Underwood or Maren Morris as token females.

So, yeah, fuck all of that, and instead find yourself Nikki Lane, whose second album for New West records, Highway Queen, was even rootsier than 2014’s Dan Auerbach-produced All or Nothin’.

The title track, the semi-autobiographical “Highway Queen” gets right to the heart of the matter. I was thinking of calling it a feminist anthem, but it’s really just her version of the classic “lord, I’m just a ramblin man so I’m just gonna fuck you and leave in the morning” song.

Sixty thousand miles of blacktop
Countless broken hearts between
Winding lines of white that don’t stop
Living the life of the highway queen
She’s a siren, leaves you pining
Haunts your mind like a melody
If you can tie her down, you can bottle lightning
But the highway queen don’t need no king

And the music is as tough as the lyrics: “Highway Queen” features a roiling drum beat, a rumbling bass, some stinging lead guitar, and Lane’s clear but rough vocals, the highlight of which is how she drops into her lowest register each time she sings “highway queen don’t need no king.”

Official video for “Highway Queen”

“Highway Queen” performed live acoustically, 2017

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