The Black Crowes – Thorn in My Pride

Every once in a while, you come across a song  that not only entertains, but also brings you on a journey. From the first time I heard this song, it felt like a musical autobiography.

Starting out with a single acoustic guitar, you find yourself in the Robinson brother’s room in Georgia, just experimenting with some riffs. Then the smooth, Southern rock organ comes in, elevating the musical complexity. By the first chorus, the electric guitar takes you to early Black Crowes gigs; the roots of a great band have set in, but they are still very much just jamming with each other. When the bass and snare of a drum kit take over for the more muted percussive instruments of the first minute and a half, you can feel the song begin to gain confidence and momentum. This continues to build until it reaches the crescendo of a dual guitar solo, highlighting the perfected fundamentals that made the Black Crowes great. By now, you’re in a massive stadium, watching the Crowes play at the height of their fame. Then, in a perfect metaphor, the solo gives way to a beautiful piano progression, which for me draws a parallel to the end of Clapton’s “Layla;” perhaps a foreshadowing of this group’s Hall of Fame future.

The next minute and a half build into a second crescendo, highlighted by the presence of gospel singers, which seem to symbolize the southern roots that the Crowes built off, yet never outgrew. Next, the song begins to backtrack, first returning to the drum set, acoustic guitar, and rock organ of the second verse. Finally, the drum kit drops out and you are brought full circle back to the high school-age founding brothers, just learning how to play music with each other.

This is truly a beautiful, masterfully composed song, and if it does for you what it does for me, you are going to have a hard time listening to it just once.


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