Forgotten Hits: Sammy Kershaw, "Yard Sale"

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Sammy Kershaw

Written by Larry Bastian and Dewayne Blackwell

Great country songs can find heartache in the most mundane places.  For George Jones, it was “a lip print on a half-filled cup of coffee that you poured but didn’t drink.”  For Sammy Kershaw, a nineties star heavily influenced by the Possum, it was a family picnic table of discounted items.

“They’re sorting through what’s left of you and me,” he sings, and like in the Jones classic “A Good Year For the Roses,” it’s the steady observation of sights and sounds that tell the story.  As he notes that there must be half the town on the grass and on the sidewalk, he muses, “Ain’t it funny how a broken home can bring the prices down?”

It’s casually revealed that his departed love didn’t even bother to finish the laundry, as one customer picks up “two summer dresses in the backyard on the line.”  And with one more quick sale revealed – “There goes the baby’s wind-up, and the mirror down the hall,” we learn that he’s been left behind by a full family, not just a wife.

It could be maudlin in lesser hands, but Kershaw’s understated delivery matches the restraint that he must be forcing upon himself. Can’t cry in front of your customers, but the pain is evident as he notes that his very reason for being is just a good bargain to everyone else around him “paying yard sale prices for each golden memory.”

This single wasn’t a huge radio hit, but it helped power his debut album to gold and eventually platinum.  There was simply too much good stuff in 1992 competing for those radio slots.  But it’s stood the test of time more than the other three hits from his debut album, all of which charted higher. It’s worth rediscovering,  or discovering for the first time if you missed it.