In this week’s episode, Ryan Bingham’s character Walker receives a guitar from Forrie J. Smith’s Lloyd. In return, he plays a ballad that brings the bunkhouse to tears. If ever wondering about the significance of aligning music so closely with “Yellowstone” as a program, it’s in moments like these.
Tim McGraw – “Cowboy In Me”
In November 2021, Tim McGraw updated his two-decade-old hit for it to be featured in Yellowstone. Regarding the track and how it’s not personal about his life, he knows it was reflected in his upbringing. He recently related a story about his childhood roots and hearing story songs about western life.
“My mom used to let me go to sleep with the radio on and I could get WBBD when I was a kid, in Wheeling, West Virginia. It was a trucker station and it came in at night all over the country. So when I was 8, 9 years old, I was glued to that station at night. I fell asleep with it every night.”
Jackson Dean – “Don’t Come Lookin’”
Breakout country star Jackson Dean’s feature on Yellowstone is a natural fit because of his diverse musical upbringing that included listening to copious amounts of a diverse group of talents, including Hank Williams Jr., David Allan Coe, Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Taj Mahal, John Lee Hooker, and Howlin’ Wolf. These influences rather brilliantly come to bear with lyrics that note the artist having his “mind in the gutter” with “trouble on one hand and [a] beer in another,” whether in the “Great Soft Plains,” “hills of Kentucky,” or “maybe North or maybe South.” It’s the type of song that broadly encapsulates the outlaw spirit.
Ryan Bingham – “The Poet”
The decade-plus-old song is the lead track from the artist and Yellowstone star’s 2010-released album Junky Star, which, in a 2011 Metacritic review was noted as featuring Bingham’s “whiskey-smoked vocal” that “offers a lyric theme the entire album turns on: ’As I keep walking, people keep talking/About things they’ve never seen or done/Homeless sleep in the park, lovers kiss in the dark/Me, I keep moving on through time.’” Not unlike Yellowstone as a show — on which he performed an acoustic version of this — as the review continues, “The Poet” “mirrors our uncertain times in a musical language that doesn’t unduly distort or romanticize them.”