John Prine was named “the Mark Twain of songwriting.” About the same time Jimmy Buffett started his new escapism mode of music and started the Parrothead movement. The Marshall Tucker Band reigns as a progressive country icon. Combining these extraordinary influences is none other than Bill Crews. He has always been writing songs, playing guitar, and listening to these country-genre leaders, but in essence, he is a living example of the idea that you are what you listen to. Taking apparent inspiration from these artists, his latest album, Been Hanging Around, with the Crews Cartel — some of Crews’ talented musician friends — brings multiple covers from these aforementioned industry staples and others. It’s a compilation of Crews’ interpretations of his all-time favorites and three of his original singles. For his new cover of “Fire on the Mountain,” Crews also partnered with two former The Marshall Tucker Band members. This reimagined classic will only add to its longevity, allowing it to be heard by new and returning audiences for many years to come through Crews’ freshly recorded version.
Certainly, Bill Crews’ “Fire on the Mountain” is not a “copy-paste” production. He reformed the single with his own distinctive style and sound, completely separate from The Marshall Tucker Band. He starts by setting the song in a minor key instead of a major key. He does away with the steel guitar in favor of softer acoustic and orchestral strings. He reduces the tempo to create a smoother, laid-back mood. The differences are there, but the everlasting storytelling from the original remains in all its glory. Without oversharing the plot and revealing major spoilers, “Fire on the Mountain” transpires in the era of the Gold Rush. With so much hope heading West, one’s dreams quickly become nightmares. You will have to listen to the song to know the rest.
The selected visuals in the Bill Crews and the Crews Cartel music video bring this historical tale to life on our screens. Horses travel on the dirt paths Westward until the men make it there to dig for buried riches. It captures everything from their labors and struggles to their relaxation and fun in these landscapes of beauty and treachery. Crews said that when he first heard the “Fire on the Mountain” original, he could envision the story making for a great movie. It might not exist yet, but until it does, the world has Crews’ rendition to digest and enjoy.
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