Trixie Mattel and Orville Peck honor country history in “Jackson”—watch
Brian Michael Firkus–aka Trixie Mattel–teased her collab with Peck on April 19, posting a short clip to Instagram. The reverb-drenched sample and neon visual hinted at a distinctive atmosphere and fresh approach to the retro track.
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While the pair opted for a more straightforward approach on the release, their performance offers no shortage of personality and character to the number.
“Jackson” is a classic song with a storied history. The tune has been recorded by a wide range of artists, from early stars including Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood–who first popularized the song–to more recent acts such as Florence + The Machine.
Mattel acknowledges the track positions the duo in relation to a significant moment in country music history.
“'Jackson!' A stunning callback to the golden era of country music!” says Mattel. “A time of wigs and rhinestones (thank god) and iconic duets. Orville and I are thrilled to put our spin and flourish on this anthem of American music. Yes, I wore red and not pink, so brave.”
The track is most memorable as a staple for longtime collaborators Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash. Their rendition has been immortalized in famous live performances and captured in the film Walk The Line, where the tune was performed by Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon.
The husband and wife duo helped establish the song as a powerful duet. “Jackson” chronicles the boisterous adventures of a malcontent wild couple, going on a tear through the anonymous town of Jackson as their relationship hits a rocky patch.
Peck also notes the significance of Cash and Carter for country music duets.
“There’s never been a greater country duo than Johnny Cash and June Carter,” Peck says. “I think ‘Jackson’ has remained iconic through the years because it perfectly captures the humour, storytelling and relationship between performers that every good country song should.”
Mattel and Peck’s reimagination certainly aims for storytelling, leaning into the playful character of the song. The video depicts the pair performing live on stage in front of an empty hall. They deliver their intertwined vocals with humor, underscoring the banter between the tune’s two characters.
Full Coverage is out now via PEG Records. Check out the dynamic “Jackson” video below.
Full Coverage, Vol. 1 Tracklist
- “Video Games”
- “Blister In The Sun”
- “Jackson” (feat. Orville Peck)
More About Trixie Mattel and Orville Peck
Ever since establishing herself as a top tier drag artist after winning in Season 3 of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, Trixie Mattel has also been helping to establish a clear place for LGBTQIA+ people in the world of country music.
A major figure in contemporary queer country music, Peck is a natural partner for the venture. Peck has also helped to advance LGBTQIA+ music, demonstrating that country music can be recorded by an openly gay musician.
In retrospect, a collaboration between Mattel and Peck was overdue. The two have publicly acknowledged their friendship and mutual respect for years. The pair have appeared together in a number of photos, and Mattel even facetimed Peck during a video appearance for setlist.fm.
Fans have been clamoring for Mattel and Peck to work together since they first learned of the duo’s friendship. Many people have also seen an obvious opportunity for them to participate in the broad legacy of country duet performances. That tradition includes not only Johnny Cash and June Carter, but many other important personalities in country music history.
Mattel has already made her affection for Parton well-known, paying tribute to the country legend on Drag Race and featuring “Backwoods Barbie” on her acoustic album Trixie Mattel: Moving Parts. Mattel had additionally showcased her interest in June Carter Cash, nodding to her rendition of “Keep On The Sunny Side” live on her YouTube stream.
Unsurprisingly, Mattel has been no stranger to cover performances. Some of the singer’s performances have drifted in the direction of alt rock, as with her rendition of Violent Femmes’ “Blister In The Sun.”
However, the artist has also found an ability to inflect her favorite songs with a signature country twang. She brought an acoustic ballad feel to her live rendition of Avril Lavigne’s fan-favorite “Sk8er Boi,” and has even found a way to bring country into her cover of Lana Del Rey’s “Video Games,” one of the tracks featured on her latest EP.
“Jackson'' marks a unique point in her career, a perfect alignment between the drag star, her interest in country music and her participation in the broader community of LGBTQIA+ country music lovers.
Interestingly enough, queercore legends Pansy Division also previously tackled “Jackson” in a 1994 cover with underground music veteran Calvin Johnson. Pansy Division is significant for demonstrating the power of LGBTQIA+ musicians and fighting to carve out a space for queer-centered topics in the music industry.
In many senses, Mattel and Peck are continuing the work started by that earlier group, showcasing the natural partnership of LGBTQIA+ people and country music.