Story Behind the Song: Lukas Nelson, ‘Civilized Hell’
Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real's 2019 album Turn off the New (Build a Garden) is an eclectic, collaborative project that includes many of the artists Nelson admires most. Among them, of course, is his dad, country icon Willie Nelson. However, a number of the artists Nelson teams with on the project are female acts he looks up to: Margo Price, Sheryl Crow, Kesha and many more.
The singer says his song "Civilized Hell" is a tribute to those women. Read on to learn the story behind the song, in the artist's own words.
[The title of the album] was, at first, Civilized Hell, and "Civilized Hell" is a tribute to all the badass women in my life -- of course, which includes and starts with my mother, but it's a tribute to every badass woman I've ever known.
I wrote it when I was 19 years old. I was reading a book called The Monkey Wrench Gang, which is by Edward Abbey, and he's a fantastic American writer. It was about this band of people, and these badass woman, and they're all going around burning billboards down and, like, stopping progress. They live back in the desert.
[The book was written] back in the counterculture days -- you know, back in the '60s days. So that was -- she was -- the inspiration. I just wrote that song after reading the book and being inspired, and then thinking about all the badass women in my life as well. It just kind of all came together.
The song took so long to actually record because we tried many times, and we just couldn't get the right recording, and then we actually got this recording, and then overthought it to the point where we never released it, so we actually had to go back. The song has had an evolution.
But it was born from this book, and then it sort of morphed into this whole thing about everybody in my life, and then it became a broader scale, this civilized hell where you're looking at your phone, and everything's peaceful, but you've been assimilated. Which, I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but -- I don't know.
Who Is Lukas Nelson? 5 Things You Need to Know