Hayes Carll has recorded a new, stripped-down version of his song “Times Like These,” which first appeared on his 2019 album What It Is.

The original version was brisk and aggressive, a swaggering rocker in the Chuck Berry mold, but also carried a seething political message.

“I wrote the song about a guy watching his country get torn apart and the frustration and fear he felt,” Carll explains. “I tried to capture the psychic toll that creates — but while I loved the speed and attitude of the original music it also covered up that heaviness.”

This new version pares the instrumentation down to a simple arrangement of acoustic guitar, Dobro, and fiddle, set to a slower, swampier tempo. “In times like these I wish someone was on my side/Instead of bringing it together we’re just widening the great divide,” Carll growls, taking aim at politicians and members of the media who profit from driving a wedge between people. Though he recorded this new version in January, it’s taken on new relevance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s scary to watch us demonize each other, for ‘compromise’ and ’empathy’ to become dirty words, and to be told that those we disagree with should be treated as enemies and are not worthy of respect or decency,” Carll adds. “It’s hard to watch elected leaders and the media thrive on sowing division rather than striving to inform and unite the people they serve. I don’t like what that does to my spirit or where that ultimately leads us as a country.”

Carll has been forced to postpone his live dates during the pandemic, but popped up alongside his wife, singer-songwriter Allison Moorer, for a brief livestreamed set in mid-April. On April 17th, Carll launched a new Patreon with the mission of performing and releasing new music with the support of his fans.

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