Nearly a year has passed since an EF-3 tornado tore through Bowling Green, Kentucky, killing twelve and destroying hundreds of homes and businesses. When daybreak on December 11, 2021, revealed the extent of the damage caused by the storm’s 150 mile-per-hour winds, Spencer Thomson of the Nashville-based alt-pop band Moon Taxi learned of his hometown’s plight.
Fortunately, the winds had spared his family and friends—such is the capricious nature of tornadoes, which can level everything in their direct path while leaving adjacent areas virtually untouched. But thoughts of his neighbors and memories of growing up in the south-central Kentucky college town compelled Thomson to pen the words to “Evergreen,” which G&G is proud to premiere today.
“The most affecting thing was just seeing pictures of streets I’ve been down hundreds of times, or buildings I’ve passed, that were wiped out or gone,” Thomson says. The guitarist sent his finished stanzas to Wes Bailey, the band’s keyboardist, who wrote a chord progression and the tune’s melody. In contrast to the layered electro-pop of fan favorites “Two High,” “Good as Gold,” and “All Day All Night,” “Evergreen” is a soothing ballad played on acoustic guitars to shuffling, minimalist percussion.
The song needed something more, though, so the band turned to renowned singer and guitarist Molly Tuttle. Long revered in the Americana world, Tuttle was nominated this week in Grammy’s Best New Artist as well as Best Bluegrass Album categories. With her tasteful flourishes and bluegrass-flavored solos, as well as harmonies in the soaring verses and choruses alongside frontman Trevor Terndrup, the song was complete.
“I always love throwing one kind-of acoustic track on an album, but we never really lead with those,” Terndrup says. “As soon as I heard the first demo, I was immediately drawn to the sentiment of the lyrics and the simplicity of the chords. It’s just, like, three chords and a little glimpse of truth.”
Thomson’s lyrics reference some of his favorite places in and around Bowling Green, like the hill in the center of town that gave Western Kentucky University its mascot (the Hilltoppers), and Shanty Hollow Lake, a nearby reservoir where he used to camp and rock climb. They also celebrate the townsfolk, whose resilience inspired him.
“It’s mostly about the people of not only Bowling Green, but all of Kentucky,” Thomson says. “If it was a love letter to anything, it’s the spirit of the people there. And that’s what the second verse is largely about with the lyric, ‘Something here helps keep us young.’”
Listen to “Evergreen” here: