S-Tier Songs, Vol. 23

And on again to the S-Tier songs series, or my own personal song “hall of fame,” if you will. For the list of songs in so far and the general premise behind it, head to the main page. And we are now just a few away from me ending my “no artist repeat” rule – after the 25th one and nearly 2 years of me running this, I’ll open the floodgates and let artists have multiple entries on the list. I wonder who will be first ….

But for today it’s a first-time entry, and a big hit from a massive record in the early ’90’s that did big business and made superstars out of a pair of brothers.

The Black Crowes – She Talks To Angels

Today’s subject was the fourth single from the 1990 multi-platinum smash Shake Your Money Maker. The song got to number 30 on the Billboard Hot 100, but caught the number 1 spot on both the Mainstream rock chart and the Radio And Records AOR Tracks chart. If you haven’t heard of that last chart, you are in good company because I haven’t either, but a number 1 is a number 1.

For the Black Crowes, this kept the train rolling. They were literally living up to the name of their album – the money maker was in full swing. This southern band bucked all trends and were a hot commodity all through the turmoil of 1991, essentially immune to the seismic shifts in rock trends that happened during the fateful summer.

She Talks To Angels is a fairly simple acoustic tune. After a bit the drums and an organ join in but the song is basically the background music and the singing. Simple is often best for songs, especially those intended for mainstream appeal, and everyone hit the nail on the head here. While the Black Crowes were certainly capable of more than a catchy tune, that would be an exploration for their future albums. Here on the debut things are kept trim and effective.

Where the song really connects with people is in its theme, and it’s a very sad one of a young woman caught in the grip of addiction. This isn’t a story-song so much as a peek into the life of someone gripped in the pains of drug addiction. This song paints a picture and leaves it for inspection, there is no beginning and end here.

It is a fairly universal theme, one that a fair number of people have some experience with. Many have either been the girl in the song or know the girl in the song. Well, that applied to a lot of people, but not so much the song’s creator Chris Robinson, who just kind of knew the girl who inspired the song.

Chris tells the story in the 2010 YouTube piece embedded below – the song is about a goth girl he knew growing up that was addicted to heroin. Everything else about the song came from Chris’ imagination, as at the time he had no experience with the issues he was writing about. He did know the girl and was friendly with her but did not relay any of her personal story through the song.

This song has lived on through classic rock radio and is also a streaming champion with over 100 million Spotify plays. It would make any list of essential Black Crowes tunes, even after the band spent a career carving their own path out since the debut. It’s also a song that has been covered endlessly by artists from all genres of music.

Why is this an S-Tier song?

She Talks To Angels is a sweet yet sad acoustic ballad outlining the trials of a young person caught in addiction. The theme caught on with a wide audience and the song itself was one of several hits from a mega debut album. Over 30 years later the song remains a staple of rock formats and a favorite of many far and wide.

6 thoughts on “S-Tier Songs, Vol. 23

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