The Coal Men, ‘Pushed to the Side’ [Exclusive Premiere]
Nashville roots-rock trio the Coal Men, led by Dave Coleman, are exclusively premiering “Pushed to the Side,” the title track to their forthcoming fifth full-length record, for readers of The Boot.
“Pushed to the Side” features a sparse arrangement with tasteful minimalist guitar playing that leaves space for Coleman’s vocals and the characters’ stories to shine through. Thematically, Coleman’s songwriting on the track shows his awareness of the less fortunate that surround him in Nashville, and he brings those individuals to light without resorting to offering cliche solutions.
“Taylor Bates, a deep and literate writer friend, helped me put this song together and use some vignettes about an old man, a young girl and some homeless orphans who are ‘waiting on the tick of a clock and the feeling of a heartbeat’” Coleman tells The Boot. “The space inside the song points at the loneliness we all feel when we need a helping hand or a friendly voice.”
Indeed, “Pushed to the Side” is a recognition loneliness, both as it relates to the song’s characters and as we all feel it. The lyrics describe those who have “been pushed to side, to where it’s too dark to see” and Coleman acknowledges, “It’s the lonely, lonely broken ones that break your little heart.”
“My wife and I belong to a little Downtown Presbyterian Church that does a lot of homeless and urban poor outreach. It’s humbling to hear stories of folks who are pushed out to the fringes. I count myself as lucky to have family and friends, but I’m aware that some folks are all alone out in this world,” Coleman reflects. “There’s a Saturday breakfast that we work at often, where I can use my skills at smiling, serving and dishwashing. I’ve learned we all need to do a hell of a lot more acting on our compassion and to have the courage to help and listen, even if it breaks our hearts sometimes.”
As a whole, the Coal Men’s resume is dense: Guitarist and vocalist Coleman and co-founding drummer and vocalist Dave Ray — who are joined in the Cole Men by Paul Slivka on bass — have been together for 17 years. Coleman has played with artists such as Matthew Ryan, Jessi Alexander and Taylor Swift; Slivka has worked with Tony Joe White, Tommy Womack, Amanda Shires and Elizabeth Cook, among others; and the band has opened for the Avett Brothers, Darrell Scott and Chris Knight, to name a few. Coleman also produces out of Music City’s Howard’s Apartment Studio. The Coal Men are mentored by John Prine and Todd Snider, and the band has Bob Delevante — whom Coleman calls “a father figure” and who co-penned one of Pushed to the Side‘s 12 track — and Buddy Miller on their side as advocates as well.
Pushed to the Side is set to street on Aug. 19. As Coleman explains, “It’s not a concept record, but the narratives of being pushed to the side, of being on the fringe or alienated, they’re part of the story of the record.”
Listen to the Coal Men, “Pushed to the Side”: