Kings of Leon reveal the story behind 'Reverend'

"When I hear his voice it just brings me to tears"

"When I hear his voice it just brings me to tears"

the Kings of Leon, from left, Nathan Followill, Caleb Followill, Jared Followill and Matthew Followill pose to promote their latest album, Walls, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Some of the best songs have even better back stories. In this series, q speaks with influential songwriters to reveal the stories behind their songs. 

Being that three of the four Kings of Leon were sired by a travelling Pentecostal preacher, it's logical to assume "Reverend," the group's latest single, is a musical nod to its theological past. But as the brothers Followill divulged during a recent stop in Toronto, the howling track is "more of a metaphor than a literal religious song."

"I didn't want it to be something that was obviously about a reverend, so I ended up taking a couple of stories and combining them," singer Caleb Followill explains.

For the most part, however, "Reverend" tells the tale of country-folk singer Blaze Foley, a disciple of Townes Van Zandt who was killed guarding his friend Concho January's monthly cheques from his thieving son.

"The cops let the guy go," Followill says. "They hated Blaze Foley because he was a trouble maker."

Foley's origins are not too dissimilar to that of the Followills. Born Michael David Fuller in Arkansas, Foley's drunken father split when he was a child. He was raised by his God-fearing mother, eventually leading a family gospel band before finding his way to the outlaw country crew in Austin, Tex., which included Willie Nelson and Lyle Lovett.

"The song is kind of telling his tale," Followill says. "For me, he was the reverend on the radio because when I hear his voice it just brings me to tears. He was just brilliant."

-Jonathan Dekel, q digital staff

Read more

Kings of Leon: 5 songs that changed my life


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