What is the story of Natalie Hemby's verse in "Highwomen"?
October 28, 2019 7:20 PM   Subscribe

Verse 4 of "Highwomen" (by The Highwomen) is sung by Natalie Hemby. I understand the references in the other verses, but I am not sure what incident or historical person(s) this verse is about.

These are the lyrics:
I was a preacher
My heart broke for all the world
But teaching was unrighteous for a girl
In the summer, I was baptized in the mighty Colorado
In the winter, I heard the hounds and I knew I had been found
And in my Savior's name, I laid my weapons down
But I am still around

Knowledge and speculation both welcome.
posted by Emmy Rae to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This may not be about a specific person or event. According to Genius Lyrics, this verse is intended to echo that "Waylon Jenning’s character was a dam builder who was killed while working on the Colorado River. Natalie Hemby’s (preacher) character sealed her fate of persecution in the same river."
posted by beaning at 7:30 PM on October 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

The specific phrase "the mighty Colorado" is an exact quote from the 1970s version, which I'm sure was put in to link the two songs. Otherwise, the verse is about a woman who becomes a preacher and is treated as a heretic, which frankly describes a lot more religious groups in American history than it leaves out.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 9:49 PM on October 28, 2019 [3 favorites]

It might be an amalgam of various mythical/historical female figures: Mary Magdalen (the preaching), Jezebel (the hounds) and Joan of Arc (the weapons) come to mind.
posted by rjs at 11:34 PM on October 28, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Someone asked on twitter, and got a response from Brandi Carlile that the preacher in the song was a "hybrid of several women." It's embedded about halfway in his article about the topic: "'Teaching was unrighteous for a girl': The History of Violence Against Women Preachers".
posted by neda at 3:17 AM on October 29, 2019 [12 favorites]

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