But sometimes, when I see an artist I love late at night like that — maybe because by then I’ve had a glass of wine — I hear the song in a whole new way. And that’s exactly what happened to me last night.
Clark performed “Stripes,” the single from her debut album 12 Stories. I’ve had that song on repeat for about the last four months. All along, I’ve thought of it as a song that describes why she won’t kill her cheating man — because orange ain’t her color and she hates stripes. In other words, she doesn’t want to go to prison because of the jumpsuit. It’s all very Orange Is the New Black.
But seeing her on Letterman’s stage made me see this song with a new perspective. Clark has a clever way of telling the bastard that if not for the prison-issued wardrobe, she thinks that going to jail wouldn’t be all bad for these reasons:
1. She’s got a pistol, a bullet and a pissed-off finger just itchin’ to pull the trigger.
2. Hard time wouldn’t be that hard on her.
3. She could fall in love with the prison guard.
4. She could sell cigarettes in the prison yard.
5. She could pick up trash on the side of the road.
Ultimately, though, Clark sings one shot ain’t worth a bad mug shot. And God knows she wouldn’t be caught holdin’ up a number while the whole town’s starin’ at the picture in the paper of her wearin’ stripes.
You rarely hear country songs like this anymore. Ones that tell a story you’ve never heard before and make it so infectious, you get lyrics about prison yards stuck in your head.