“The Mountains You Carry”
RECORD LABEL:Organic Records
LOCATION:Asheville, North Carolina
Following the release of last summer’s Dream Rich, Dirt Poor—his first album in four years, three Number 1s on Bluegrass Today’s Grassicana chart and the popular radio single, “Rockefeller”—western North Carolina singer/songwriter Aaron Burdett returned to the studio with producer Jon Weisberger and his touring band to record a set of tracks that includes his new Organic Records single, “The Mountains You Carry.”
New mandolinist Zeb Gambrill strikes the first notes of the new track, laying out its essential melodic shape before Burdett works his way into the song’s clear-eyed yet affirmative opening verses, eventually giving way to an anthemic chorus that offers ringing harmonies from banjo player Laura Ray and long-time bassist Kim France. Weighing in at a tightly-constructed three minutes, with Burdett’s gritty vocal intertwined with deft banjo and mandolin picking, “The Mountains You Carry” is emblematic of his winning combination of a powerfully distinctive voice, down-home bluegrass flavors and thoughtful, sophisticated songwriting.
“‘The Mountains You Carry’ grew out of a Najwa Zebian quote I stumbled across a couple of years back that I wrote down and kept thinking about,” Burdett recalls. “I believe the original version I read was ‘These mountains that you are carrying, you were only supposed to climb.’”
“I think that often our greatest personal assets can also be our greatest liabilities when played out to extremes. And I think as adults we’re often really only children grown larger and we have many of the same feelings and emotions that we did when we were children. I’ve noticed that when I’m angry or agitated it’s almost never the actual thing in front of me today, it’s me reacting to the thing as I would have as a little kid, and bringing my own 40 years of baggage to the situation.
“Those old feelings get dredged up and set in front of me, like lessons I need to re-learn again and again. These are the ‘mountains’ I carry with me and likely always will. Do I choose to learn from them when they pop up? Not always. But sometimes I can remember that while I’m still the same person, I’m not quite the same kid I was back then. I can do better than I could then. I can take a painful lesson from the past and make my day better today when I’m reminded of it, reminded of the difference between then and now. I can be kind to myself and let it go and move forward without letting that old baggage weigh me down quite as much.
“And I see this in others too, I’m not only speaking about myself. I think we all do this to one degree or another, as ‘grown-up kids’. Maybe this song will remind someone to lighten up and give themselves some grace when they listen to it. Like it says in the first verse: ‘You’re too hard on yourself, you can let it roll by!’”
KEY SELLING POINTS
- Aaron Burdett is listed as one of the Top 10 most important musicians of western North Carolina by WNC Magazine, alongside such greats as Doc Watson, Steep Canyon Rangers, and The Avett Brothers
- Recently won the grand prize in the folk category of the USA Songwriting Contest with “A Couple Broken Windows” from his latest album Refuge (2018). His new single “Rockefeller” is one of three finalists in the bluegrass category In the prestigious Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at Merlefest for 2020 (postponed until 2021).
- Aaron was also the winner of Our State Magazine’s Carolina Songs Competition in 2012 with “Going Home to Carolina.” Aaron’s song “Magpie” won third place bluegrass song in Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at Merlefest in 2013.