My Sunday Song – “Even the River Runs Out of This Town” by Will Hoge

For My Sunday Song #269, we are going to dive in to the song “Even the River Runs Out of This Town” by Will Hoge. Man, I love that song title. The song is off his latest album, 2020’s ‘Tiny Little Movies’. The song didn’t chart, but it is one of the reason why I think this was one of the best albums to come out in 2020 and one of the best Will Hoge has ever done. It is a masterpiece as each song is exactly what the title of the album says they are….tiny little movies.

“Even the River Runs Out of this Town” I thought was about how small town America keeps getting smaller as the young adults keep leaving for the big city which you can interpret it that way. However, the song is about lost love and how he had to let her go. Even though he loved her, she was smothered by that love and that town and needed to leave. He states the highways and the railroads all leave town and that even the river leaves so it must be her turn now. It is quite a beautiful sentiment. The song is his longing for the girl that got away.

Musically, the song is a ballad done on acoustic guitar and Will’s voice. It is stripped down to its bare bones, it is raw and you can feel the pain, the heartache and the longing for his lost love. When the music can be as sad as the lyrics, then he has done something right. Like with a lot of songs of Will’s, the music is handled by nothing but uber talented musicians, but it is the lyrics that are the star and that is the case for any good songwriter.

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My Sunday Song – “Ballad of Trayvon Martin” by Will Hoge

For My Sunday Song #268, we are going to discuss the controversial song “Ballad of Trayvon Martin” by Will Hoge off his protest E.P. from 2012 called ‘Modern American Protest Music. The song, along with the rest of the album, is brutal and forthright. Will Hoge lays out in all its ugliness and truth and exposes the underbelly of America.

The “Ballad of Trayvon Martin” is about the case where George Zimmerman shoots a young black gentlemen who seems to me minding his own business. Will tells the story in great detail about why George shoots Trayvon to how George seems to get off and not charged with murder. Will isn’t afraid to point out the racism inherent in the system and he takes aim at the Florida “Stand Your Own Ground” Law. He definitely doesn’t paint a pretty picture about George or even Police Chief Lee. I remember vividly when this happened and nothing seem to make sense from the news reports. I could never see what reason George had to be suspicious other than a young black man walking down the street. Oh my heavens, that must mean he is up to no good…at least in George’s eyes. If George would’ve only listened to the 911 Dispatcher and do nothing and the Police handle it, would it have turned out differently?

Now let us talk about the music. Will comes straight in to the verses within the first note of starting the song accompanied by an electric guitar. After the opening verse, the drum and another guitar join and by the chorus we get the full band in its all its glory. It is simple, yet effective as it should be as the lyrics are the main focus as this is a protest song don’t forget. I love the little guitar solos between the chorus and the next verse that happens a couple times. All-in-all, the song is so powerful and packs quite a punch. Will really painted a picture of the situation with his words and they flowed perfectly together. His story telling is on full display and a perfect example on why I think Will is one of the best songwriters in the business.

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My Sunday Song – “Guitar or a Gun” by Will Hoge

For My Sunday Song #267, we are going to dive in to the song “Guitar or a Gun” by Will Hoge. The song is off his 2015 album ‘Small Town Dreams’. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, the album went to #15 on the Country Charts and #162 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart. The song was written by Will Hoge, Dylan Altman and Gary Allan. Will sought out Gary specifically to write with on this track along with another song in hopes Gary would record them. Thankfully for us, Gary passed and Will got to keep this great track all his own.

The song is basically Will thinking about growing up in Franklin, Tennessee. Will would go to the local pawn shop and stare for hours at the guitars on the wall and the guns behind the counter. He would ride his bike over there every weekend. After mowing lawns all Summer, he took his $200 he earned and finally went to that pawn shop to buy one of those two items. He wanted both and the lyrics tell you what his dad said about them but not letting you know really which one his dad was talking about. All Will could think about was being in a gang…a gang of guys that form a band or a gang of guys to do nothing but get in to trouble and ride off in to the sunset like the gang from the movie “Young Guns”. Since we are reviewing a song by Will Hoge, I believe we know he chose the Guitar.

The song is a southern rock sounding track with an acoustic guitar, an electric, a piano and some driving drum beats. It starts off slow with the acoustic guitar and then Will singing the first verse before the band comes in and then they all join in and take it home. The bridge and chorus kick it up a notch and are catchy and colorful. The music and the song feel tell a great story and take you back to your childhood where you might have had the same thoughts. Will is a master at telling great stories and this song is just that.

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My Sunday Song – “A Little Bit of Rust (feat. Sheryl Crow)” by Will Hoge

For My Sunday Song #266, we are going to discuss the song “A Little Bit of Rust” by Will Hoge. The song is off his 2017 album ‘Anchors’ and sees Will find his way back from depression after excessive touring from his ‘Small Town Dreams’ album. The song was supposed to be for the prior album, but Will held it off wanting to do it as a duet and he wanted the perfect female voice and he found that with Sheryl Crow, an old family friend.

The song is about overcoming obstacles during difficult times in a relationship. We all go through those. It seems to be talking about being in a relationship that tends to just start fading away for no reason. You fall in to a routine and start taking each other for granted and forgetting to take time for each other. You start building up a little rust. As he states in the song…

Ain’t nothin’ we can’t fix
Ain’t no broken trust
Ain’t no great divide between the two of us
It’s just the heavy hand of time

The building blocks are there, you need to work a little harder to remember why you are together and rekindle that spark. Will has a way to right what is real and honest and lays it out nicely in a beautiful story.

Musically the song has some bluesy and a country vibe with a little mandolin and violin couple with some fine playing on the electric guitar. Both Will and Sheryl’s vocals play nicely off each other. They both have a wonderful seasoned vocal that has seen its fair share of rust and they’ve worked on it and polished it up with a nice shine. It is another shining example of what I love about Will Hoge.

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My Sunday Song – “Thoughts & Prayers” by Will Hoge

For My Sunday Song #265, we are going to go back to the controversy with the song “Thoughts & Prayers” by Will Hoge. The song is off his protest E.P. called ‘My American Dream’ from 2018. When Will does the E.P.’s, he has a lot to say and he will not hold back and I think that is the magic of his protest music. It is honest, truthful and he rips the band-aid right off and exposes things for what they are.

This song was inspired by yet another mass shooting and this time it was one on November 5, 2017 in Southerland Springs, Texas at a church where 26 people were murdered when someone walked in to their church and opened fire. Will heard the news while he was on tour in Denver and before his show that night, he sat down and started writing a song based around three words he found useless and pointless that was coming from the mouths of politicians. Those words were “Thoughts & Prayers”. He felt those words held no wait. We need action and not words. He rips the politicians and tears a new whole to the NRA as he speaks to fact we need better gun control in this country. He isn’t saying we don’t need guns, but more that it should be harder to get and more scrutiny who can get them.

Musically, the song is very simple. It is an acoustic guitar and Will truthfully speaking out his lyrics and you can feel the truth oozing from his mouth. You can feel the anger, feel the sadness and the hurt and you can feel the exhaustion from all the non-sense that comes from Washington D.C. Politicians that are snuggled in the warm blankets of the NRA afraid to do something and lose that NRA money for their elections. 3 years later, still zero action and it feels like we have a mass shooting almost every single day. It is really crazy. I know it isn’t guns that kill people, but something needs to be done to make it harder for those people that kill people to get them. Whatever we have right now, isn’t working.

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My Sunday Song – “Middle of America” by Will Hoge

For My Sunday Song #264, we are talking about “Middle of America” by Will Hoge. The song is off his 2015 album “Small Town Dreams” and the song went to #53 on the Country charts while the album went to #15 on the Country Charts and #162 on the Billboard 200 which isn’t the highest chart position, but it made the chart nonetheless. The song was written by Will Hoge with Jessi Alexander and Tommy Lee James who are both highly sought after writers in the Country scene.

“Middle of America” is about just that thing. Those states you tend to flyover when travelling across the country. Those small towns that keep the country moving. Will, Jessi and Tommy were having a writing session and they were talking about growing up in these small towns and what life was like. You have that town drunk, that veteran, that hometown band and everything else you would expect in a small town.

The music for the song is pure country on this one with a southern rock vibe as well. I think of it as a cross between John Mellencamp’s “Small Town” and “Pink Houses” and he knew how to tell those small town songs and I feel this one is right up there with some of the best. It is so good in fact that Will couldn’t decide whether to give to a Country artist to sing and make tons of money or keep it for himself. Thankfully, he kept it for himself. Will’s vocals fit the song perfectly. He has a little grit and also a smoothness that swallows you up in the song and makes you move to the beat and invested in the song. The guitars on it have some fine picking and the drums lay down a great beat that keeps the song a little on the happy side of nostalgia.

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My Sunday Song – “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” by Will Hoge

For My Sunday Song #263, we are discussing the song “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” by Will Hoge. The song is off his 2009 album ‘The Wreckage’ and was written by Will and Eric Paslay. The song was released as a single by Will but didn’t chart. The song was later covered by The Eli Young Band in 2012 and they had a lot of success with it going to #1 on the Country Charts. And they do a great version, but I love me some Will Hoge so that is what we are discussing.

The song is about how you need to keep on dreaming and driving forward with your goals. There are going to be a lot of “no’s” and “you can’t do thats” along the way. Your heart is going to be broken, a lot…but don’t give up and keep on fighting. Will got turned down so many times and was told he wasn’t good enough, but he showed them they were all wrong and has become a very successful songwriter and musician. He lives what he was singing and is great advice for everyone.

Musically it is more like a ballad with a country flair. It has a great groove and some fine acoustic guitar playing as well as nice what sounds like slide guitar playing as well. It has a down home, southern rock feel as well. Will’s gritty vocals give the song a lived that feeling like he has done exactly what the lyrics say to do. He makes you believe it. For me, it is really a beautiful, heartfelt song.

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My Sunday Song – “Jesus Came to Tennessee” by Will Hoge

For My Sunday Song #262, we are talking about “Jesus Came to Tennessee” by Will Hoge. The song is off one of Will’s protest E.P.s called ‘Modern American Protest Music’ from 2012. The whole album is Will speaking out about what was going on in America at the time and there will be another song we highlight from this E.P. That will be two songs out of ten that will come from an E.P. and not an album and that should tell you what I think about the E.P.

This one is where the lyrics need to be read as it is totally and utterly brilliant. The song is a fictional story about Jesus coming down to Tennessee and visited with Will. It is a conversation he and Jesus had as they drove around Tennessee. It is hilarious at times no doubt with Jesus saying the following…

And I’ll call off this doomsday end of the world and I can go back home
“It gets wild when I leave Daddy and John Lennon up there all alone”

But most of it is commentary to how badly we have screwed up things down here. Will and his wife had a child out of wedlock, but Jesus says thats okay as he was born out of wedlock as well. Jesus sees all the war and poverty and how we treat the gays and He is ready to pull the plug on us. Will asks Jesus if he wants to watch Fox or CNN and Jesus says he just wants to hear the truth. And then Jesus calls off the Doomsday when he sees the little children of all different races and sexes playing together with no cares about race or anything. Jesus then said maybe there is hope. Which reminds us that racism is learned and not natural. There is so much great stuff in this song that you need to listen to it more than once. Here is one more line that I love…

I yelled, “One more thing Jesus, could you help me write some hits?”
And in a big voice he said that “I will, if you quit writin’ songs like this”

I love that line as it shows that Will doesn’t take himself serious and has a great sense of humor. I’m telling you, this guy is pure gold!! I could dissect every line in this song and relate to current events, but I think you will pick up on it easily enough when you hear it. It is a combination of everything that is wrong with our country right now and some hope that we could fix it.

Musically, it is a country style track and Will speaks-sings the lyrics like some old-school outlaw country track. It is a simple beat the whole time and Will goes through the whole conversation with Jesus. There isn’t too much to it as this song is all about the lyrics so listen close and take it all in.

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My Sunday Song – “The Overthrow” by Will Hoge

For My Sunday Song #261, we are going to tackle 10 songs from one of my favorite artist, Will Hoge. First up is the song “The Overthrow” off his 2020 album, ‘Tiny Little Movies’. The album is so raw and honest and this song is no different. Will has a way of painting a picture of America’s landscape with his lyrics and he doesn’t hold back on this one.

Will doesn’t intentionally write political charged songs, they tend to write themselves I would guess. When he puts pen to paper and plays that first chord, I imagine the song takes on a life of its own. This song dives in to the deep end and takes on the President of the U.S.A. and many might not appreciate his candor. With lyrics like “Darth Vader with a spray tan” pretty much tells you who he is talking about. He talks about how the man is tearing the country apart and that the people about to stand up and take it all back. They are going to Overthrow him with their votes and send his ass packing and that is what happened.

Musically, it is one of Will’s heaviest, rocking tracks and won’t be typical of what I have for you with this series but I wanted to start with a bang and this one does it. It is dirty, gritty, raw and is like a fist to the face. It is straight up rock & rolll with a little punk edge at least that is what I get from it. Will’s gritty vocals are a perfect match to the music. For me, the drums and that guitar are the highlights as they are both so powerful and are making a statement just like the lyrics. It all blends together perfectly with the vocals and you get a song that grabs hold, shakes you a little and doesn’t let go. Hold on tight!

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My Sunday Song – “Round And Round” by Ratt

For My Sunday Song #260 and the final in the 10 song set is “Round and Round” by Ratt. The song is the first single off the band’s 1984 classic album ‘Out of the Cellar’. It reached #12 on the Hot 100 propelling the album to #7 and sells over 3 million copies in the U.S. alone. It broke the band in to one of the biggest acts in the world and the top acts in that whole 80’s Rock scene. The song was written by Warren DeMartini, Robbin Crosby and Stephen Pearcy.

The song is about a girl that he is really in to and he wants to be with her. She isn’t willing to give it up yet, but he knows he will get there in the end. The two go round and round playing all the games until the end and they both get what they knew would happen right from the start.

What makes the song great are those sleazy vocals by Stephen Pearcy matched perfectly with the nasty guitar riffs by Crosby and DeMartini and the dual solo, man, don’t get me started on that. It is all pure metal sleaze! The song is heavy, yet catchy as hell. The chorus is infectious and musically it is aggressive and pure fun. You can’t help but move and the song gets stuck in your head and can’t escape. It would be the blueprint of what was to hit the scene on the Sunset Strip and MTV for years to come!

Speaking of MTV, what really put this song over the top for the band was the video they released.  Their manager at the time was Marshall Berle.  Marshall had a pretty famous uncle that you might have heard of named Milton Berle, the legendary comedian.  With his famous Uncle Miltie character dressed in drag, he makes an appearance in the video which draws it national attention. This video sums up the 80’s nicely.

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