Jared Gutstadt and Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd seek hope and unity in the acoustic video of their song, “No Way (That’s Not America).”
Premiering exclusively with Sounds Like Nashville, the twosome perform an acoustic version of the track under the guise of Bear and a Banjo, their alter egos in the podcast of the same name. Created by Gutstadt, a song and jingle writer who has worked with the likes of Kris Kristofferson and Dierks Bentley, Bear and a Banjo launched in 2019 in partnership between the Jingle Punks and iHeart Podcast Networks. Boyd, known for his songwriting and production work for Justin Bieber, stars alongside Gutstadt as the fictional duo, Bear and Banjo, who travel through history and witness such iconic moments as Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s wedding at Griffith Stadium in 1951. Each episode features original music written by Gutstadt and Boyd and appears on the Bear and a Banjo soundtrack produced by T Bone Burnett and executive produced by Jingle Punks and Empire Nashville.
“No Way,” featured in episode two of the podcast, was written in response to the 2016 presidential election and the sense of division the two writers felt in its wake. The pair performed an acoustic version of the thought-provoking tune at the Winston House in Los Angeles, the location serving as the first place they debuted music from Bear and a Banjo. “Around the time of the election, I think people were feeling very divided one way or the other. It doesn’t matter what side you were on, but there seemed to be a lot of people that felt like for the first time in a long time, everyone was just not agreeing,” Gutstadt explains to Sounds Like Nashville. This observation prompted he and Boyd to take to the studio and put their thoughts to paper, starting with an inviting pop melody. Gutstadt reveals that the chords were inspired by Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” and the simplicity of Travis Tritt’s signature hit, “Here’s a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares).” “Once we got to the first hook I thought, ‘wow, this is a really special song,’” he notes.
In the video, Boyd takes lead vocals, flanked by Gutstadt and Gabe Witcher of the Grammy winning folk quintet Punch Brothers on acoustic guitar, all poised on an intimate stage that pulls the audience in close. “It’s just a whole lot of stuff that’s been going on, a lot of hatred, and it’s just unnecessary,” Boyd says as he introduces the song. “It’s unfortunate, but we’re here as a society and I just felt like we should talk about it.” The acoustic rendition highlights the lyrics that speak of “cruel intentions fueled by hate” and a picture of freedom that’s fading away. “We’re turning into the divided states, and that’s not America,” Boyd sings passionately, leading into the chorus that reprises the title. But the overarching message of the song calls for unity as Boyd ponders, “where’s all the love when you need it? Why can’t we all help each other for a change,” eliciting cheers of support when he asks the crowd at song’s end if they agree with its meaning.
“I like the fact that it’s a broader sentiment of ‘we’re going to lift this country,’ and if we’re going to keep it together, we got to stop arguing about the stupid sh– and look at how great it is,” Gutstadt describes. “We’re not as far apart as one would think, and that’s why I love the message of the song.” “It’s all love,” Boyd determines in the video. “We love.”
“No Way (That’s Not America)” is also featured on the EP LIVE From Winston House, available now.