Search
  • LoveInTheLyrics

KALEB MULLINS & THE WITNESS 'BLACK LUNG'


Kaleb Mullins and The Witness is a folk-rock band from Knoxville, Tennessee. With their own unique style that some have labeled “Appalachia-cana,” the band’s original material combines a sonic blend of folk, bluegrass, blues, and grunge to weave together stories and songs that will both tug on your heart and make you stomp your feet.


Kaleb Mullins and The Witness consists of Kaleb Mullins (vocalist, guitar, songwriter), Megan Barnett (vocals, keys), Randy Farris (bass), Anthony McDaneld (drums), and Jonathan Tibbetts (guitar).


You can stream their debut EP “Songs From Home,” on all major streaming platforms, or catch them at a local venue near you soon.


Black Lung Lyrics:

He replays it over, the life that could have been. His mother always warned him about the poison in his head. He remembers the warning the night his father died, He said, “Son I may be leaving this world, but don’t you dare leave your mother behind.”

He’s tried and tried to move on but he just can’t let go.

It’s like wrestling with the mountains to steal all their coal.

And there’s nothing left for him to do in this town

Except come down with the black lung and put him six feet in the ground.


Life is cruel in Harlan County, nobody makes it out alive. So what does it matter if he wastes just one more night? Everybody says Jesus saves, but he hasn’t seen it yet, 'Cause everyone in this town is a skeleton living with regret.


He’s tried and tried to move on but he just can’t let go.

It’s like wrestling with the mountains to steal all their coal.

And there’s nothing left for him to do in this town

Except come down with the black lung and put him six feet in the ground.


Life is cruel in Harlan County, nobody makes it out alive.

What are your favorite lyrics from your latest single?


My favorite lyrics come from a line in the second verse: “Everybody says Jesus saves, but he hasn’t seen it yet, ‘cause everyone in this town is a skeleton living with regret.”


“Black Lung” is a song about struggle. It’s the story of a young man struggling with drug addiction, the death of his father, the reality of living life in a coal mining town, and ultimately — a struggle with faith and belief in a higher power. He’s asking the question: “How can you say you’ve been saved when everyone in this town looks like they’re already dead?”

If you’re familiar with life in deep Appalachia, you know that it can feel like an area that’s been dead for a long time, but just doesn’t know it yet. If you couple that with the anger and the abandonment that the character in the song is feeling, this outburst of anger and frustration makes perfect sense.


What kind of pull did you feel about making the single?


I really wanted to write a song about the struggles of Appalachia, particularly the coal fields in eastern Kentucky. The area has such a strong history, both positive and negative. Unfortunately now it’s consumed by drug addiction, greed from mining companies, the desperation of the people who are seeing the industry that has fed the area for a hundred years starting to slip away. It can be a desperate place, and I wanted to capture that desperation while also highlighting the individual family stories within the larger picture.

Are all your writing sessions collaborative or do you go off on your own? Do you have a preference?


I generally write on my own. Usually I’ll write out the song with an acoustic guitar or piano, and then I bring it to the band for them to think about their own parts. In a sense, the writing of the song isn’t collaborative at all. However the full-band arrangement is definitely a collaborative effort. We trust each other’s input and abilities, and that trust is what allows the songs to take on a new life once they become ‘full band’ songs.


Do you ever compare the work you bring to the table?


I’m constantly comparing new material to things I’ve written previously, and to the work of the artists I look up to. That may be good or bad, I’m not sure. But songwriting to me is about expression, and I compare my material because I want to express myself in the best way possible. The best songs should hit you in the chest and force you to connect with the lyrics, the melody, the beat, etc. My favorite songs create that experience for me, and my hope for my work is that my songs will do the same for others. So for me, comparing and critiquing the work isn’t as much an objective thing in terms of lyric quality, musical expression, etc. It’s about whether or no this song will make the listener connect and feel something.


What is standard practice when it comes to if the song is really finished?

It’s never truly finished until the day we record the track. Some of the songs we’re recording for the album have been a part of our live shows for two years, and there are still things about them that change in the studio. That environment unlocks a deeper part of our creativity, and it’s really in the studio environment that I feel the songs finally come together.


What was the goal for making the latest track?


The goal was to show our listeners another side of us. Our two singles that we’ve released as a band so far have been a little more “radio-friendly,” which is just to say that those songs are very focused on creating a melody that is catchy and easy to sing along to. “Black Lung” is more of a storytelling song, derived from older folk styles of writing. We have a diverse catalogue of originals, and “Black Lung” is the first step in showing people a different side of Kaleb Mullins and The Witness.


Challenges to the new music that no one would know about?


It’s a lot more difficult to write a story-based song without it sounding over dramatic or cheesy than you would think. I want the listener to experience the emotion, without it feeling forced. There’s a delicate balance to strike there.


Favorite memory in the making of this music?


We played a show a few months back where we organically came up with the strum pattern and breaks in the second verse. That was the moment where the song ‘clicked,’ and it was off to the races from there.


Is there anything off the table when it comes to bringing yourselves into your music?


I don’t believe so. Music allows you to express things that words alone can’t. For me, there shouldn't be anything that is “off-limits.” You want to say things tactfully, of course, and some thoughts or experiences are better expressed in subtle ways rather than obvious ones. As far as I’m concerned, though, nothing is off the table.


Leave us on a high note! And share some good news!


We have so much music coming out this year! “Black Lung” will be released on August 5th, and our debut album “Old Ghosts // New Stories” is coming later this fall. We are pumped to release this music and hit some new cities to promote it. Stay tuned for show dates and come see us!


Socials PLEASE:


https://www.instagram.com/kalebmullinsandthewitness/


https://www.facebook.com/KalebMullinsAndTheWitness


https://www.tiktok.com/@kmandthewitness?lang=en

https://www.kalebmullinsandthewitness.com/


https://open.spotify.com/artist/6gd37CYe49RdDjsUKsnv28?si=XalyWrRVR5u3dGxXKHU1sQ

7 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All