As America takes an uncomfortable look in the mirror following the murder of George Floyd, the inestimable Brittany Howard stopped by The Tonight Show with a personal account of race and hatred, “Goat Head”.
One of the standout tracks from Howard’s 2019 stunner Jaime, “Goat Head” finds her reflecting on the experiences of her parents. “My mama was brave to take me outside,” she croons, “‘Cause mama is white and daddy is black/ When I first got made, guess I made these folks mad.” While her Tonight Show performance kept her rooted in front of a standing microphone, she grooved throughout the song, investing more energy into her dancing hands than some acts put into entire sets.
Howard has a thunderous vocal instrument, with the ability to howl and wail with the best of them. But when she reaches the climax of “Goat Head” — “Who slashed my dad’s tires and put a goat head in the back?” — she doesn’t scream out the words, she leans way back into a quiet, contemplative delivery. And as she and her backup singes worry away at that phrase, “Goat head in the back,” over and over again, what we hear is not a rage boiling over, but years of overwhelming emotions reduced to a manageable simmer. Like Howard herself, you might not be able to get that “Goat head in the back,” out of your head. Check out the performance below.
Last week, Howard played the “Small Biz Live” virtual concert benefitting Black, minority, and women-owned businesses across America. Back in April, she curated original programming for Sonos’ new radio service, and she also covered a Funkadelic classic for Spotify Singles. While few concerts are taking place in 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic, Howard is slated to play Outside Lands in 2021.