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Madison Cunningham Writes a “Rage Song”

Madison Cunningham Writes a “Rage Song”

West coast folk musician and songwriting powerhouse Madison Cunningham engages in some anger management.

Along with hosts Sean Watkins and Peter Harper, Cunningham, whose 2022 record Revealer won the Grammy for Best Folk Album, digs into the nature of artistry and truth-telling: What are the social and professional costs of telling it like it is, or simply sticking to your artistic guns instead of appealing to the masses? Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot got them dropped from their label—then it went on to become their most celebrated record. Who’s to say?

Invoking her upbringing in the church and subsequent alienation from it, in part thanks to the ostracizing that came from questioning the rules, Cunningham leads the group on a writing session rooted in expressing anger and frustrating. “I write because I’m trying to hit something instead of someone,” Cunningham quips. What takes form is a folk-rock “rage song” about transmitters and receivers, about the incessant flow of information and the resonance, dissonance, and white noise that we’re all hooked up to. It’s also an expert lesson in subtlety and the expression of complex ideas: “Talk about the summer, passing the time/Your guess about Jesus is as good as mine,” Cunningham conjures on the verse.

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