Jason Isbell’s Rowdy “Cumberland Gap” Is The Anthem Coal Miners Need Right Now

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It is no secret that coal miners are having a tough time right now. Energy companies and the public at large are moving away from the fossil fuel to more renewable sources and politicians haven’t come through on their lofty promises of new jobs. Jason Isbell captures their frustration in “Cumberland Gap” a song that recognizes dying American towns, the hard working folks who live there, and why it’s so hard to leave even when the jobs are drying up.


The song gives voice to those who feel they have none and help those of us outside of that region understand the struggle of the men and women who have given their lives to pulling coal out of the heart of mountains. That sensitivity and desire to speak up for the forgotten permeates his album “The Nashville Sound.”

Isbell has a way of communicating a lot without saying much. In just three lines he describes why he can’t leave the life he inherited from his father but never wanted.

I thought about moving away
But what would my mama say?
I’m all that she has left and I’m with her every day

Isbell has been an outspoken critic of Nashville country and has gone as far to say he wants nothing to do with it. Even so, he has found his way into the CMA’s as a nominee for Album of the Year. Some speculate that he may not even show up.