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.
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.
Can you fall in love with an album or an artist by hearing only one song? The answer for me is a resounding YES!! That happened to me many moons ago when I heard one of the coolest songs I have ever heard. The song was “Not That Cool” by Will Hoge. The song was about me. He reached into my soul and wrote this song just for me. Ok, he didn’t really, but it felt like it was.
Will Hoge has been described as Americana, Alt. Country with a Southern Rock flair and it fits him perfectly. He has a little pop, a little blues and if you need to compare him to other artists then go with John Mellencamp, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen or even Bob Dylan. Will’s ability to tell a story that can be bleak at times and uplifting at others is a shot in the arm and shows the power that can be found in music. His lyrics are an honest interpretation of what is going in America and at times a giant slap in the face. His genius lies in the words as well as the music and it is that gritty voice that draws you in and makes you care about what he has to say.
I thought it was time to rank his albums from what I think is his worst to what I feel is his best. Remember, this is what I like as a fan…not as a critic. Critics get paid, I don’t. So, if you don’t agree with this order, that is great and I think happens with every band. It is all about your timing in to the artist and what you like. This for me, is what I like. I hope you enjoy. I did something a little different with Will and included his 3 Studio E.P’s. along with his Studio albums and jumps the count up to 13 albums to go through, so grab a beer and relax and enjoy!