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Revisiting ‘Golden Hour’ Five Years Later

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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

When I first learned to drive it was in a 2003 Ford Explorer equipped with a CD player, and every morning I got to choose between The Chicks’ Taking The Long Way, Fiona Apple’s The Idler Wheel […] or Kacey Musgraves’ Golden Hour. I adored The Chicks’ powerful embodiment of motherhood and resilience and Fiona’s poetic ruminations on unrequited love, but found myself turning to Musgraves most often for things I wasn’t able to articulate at 16, but think I maybe can at 20. 

Musgraves has three other albums under her belt: Same Trailer Different Park (2013), Pageant Material (2015) and star-crossed (2021). Her debut and sophomore albums explore small-town life and individuality, praise authenticity and critique materialism through clever wordplay and fresh perspectives on traditional country music themes. star-crossed delves into a much more theatrical and transformative territory, offering insight into heartbreak, healing, betrayal and femininity. I adore all three of these albums, as each was instrumental in the solidification of Musgraves’ own genre; she’s not a southern belle powerhouse like Miranda Lambert or Carrie Underwood, nor a guiding elder like Dolly Parton or Tanya Tucker. Musgraves has transformed the country music landscape in her own way; by layering the topics of marijuana, LGBTQ+ rights and futurism over hints of disco and electropop, she’s set herself apart from any other artist in the industry. Her greatness never begs for your attention, though. She just has it. This gift is most prevalent in Golden Hour. 

The first song I heard off this album was “Rainbow.” I was riding with my mom to pick up my sister from her gym, and had to turn to face the window, biting my cheek to try to dissolve the onset of tears. Over a delicate piano ballad and through a sweet and melodic voice, Musgraves seemed to reach out from the car radio to take my hand. 

It will be okay, she seemed to contend. What could a little relief like that feel like? It could feel like a lot. 

Throughout the album, we witness Musgraves making peace with many constituents of adult life, like feeling lonely on the weekends, missing your mom, building a life in your own time and not knowing how to describe the sensation that toes the line between happy and sad. When I was 16, I listened in an anticipatory way, waiting to truly feel the weight of these things. Now, approaching 21, I look back on this album and think Oh, yeah. Life is weird: sad, beautiful, thrilling, tender and weird. 

“Love Is A Wild Thing” became my favorite song of Musgraves’ upon first listen. She likens love to something dynamic and infinite; something that might be “Running like a river, trying to find the ocean / (Flowers in the concrete) / Climbing over fences, blooming in the shadows / (Places that you can’t see).” Before she performed this song live at The Van Buren Phoenix in 2019, she said to the crowd: “This next song is inspired by the idea that love is this thing that you can’t kill. It may sometimes feel like you can’t find it or it can’t find you, or that you don’t deserve it or that it’s just not working. But love is this thing that’s just there. It’s literally in everything and mathematically it’s impossible to get rid of–it keeps everything going.” 

Because of Golden Hour, Musgraves’ music guides me in many areas of my life, whether it’s present in walking to class, driving home for a weekend, shining up the TV with her Christmas Show every December or putting on her cover of Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know” while my mom and I have coffee in the morning. Her art has afforded me a changed worldview: the things I see now are all stories, and they don’t all end happily, but they end how they’re supposed to.  

As Musgraves puts it best, in the outro of Golden Hour’s title track: “I know, I know, everything’s gonna be alright.” 

Sydney is a contributing writer and editor for Her Campus (CU Boulder). She joined Her Campus during her first semester of freshman year and has enjoyed writing about entertainment, issues uniting the nation and personal experiences. She loves getting to empower women to explore their voices and contribute their insights. Sydney is currently a junior majoring in strategic communication and pursuing minors in journalism and creative writing. She is a Norlin Scholar, an active member of PRSSA and interned with Renewable Energy Systems' marketing department over the summer. Following undergrad, she hopes to combine her passions for creative writing, public relations strategy and clean energy to ensure a brighter future for upcoming generations. While she's not writing or studying, you can find her playing music, attending concerts around Denver, shooting senior portraits, hiking at Chautauqua or spending time with her family. She hopes to publish a novel someday.