Review – Will Hoge’s “Still A Southern Man”

Will Hoge

Here in the United States, to say it’s been a busy news cycle in 2015 would be an understatement. There have been several major issues throughout this year and we’re just past the halfway point. One of the biggest issues and the one that has undoubtedly affected country music the most is the issue of the confederate flag. This issue was raised after the horrific and tragic shooting in Charleston, South Carolina where a coward went into Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and shot nine people because of the color of their skin. It was a blatant act of racism and terrorism. One of the after effects of this tragedy was the issue of the confederate flag, as their were several pictures of the shooter with confederate memorabilia and the confederate flag still flew over the state capitol in South Carolina. Immediately people called for the flag to come down, while at the same time many people came out to defend the flag. Eventually the flag was removed from the capitol and several retailers have since banned the sales of any memorabilia displaying the flag. The issue is still hotly debated as of this time.

Enter Will Hoge now. He’s a proud southerner from Nashville, Tennessee and an artist that sings with conviction in every song he sings. Not only does he display this conviction in his singing, but his songwriting too. He’s already impressed many in the country music community this year with his new album Small Town Dreams, which Derek rightly praised in his review of it. It contains some of my favorite songs of 2015. So back to the confederate flag issue: Hoge saw the events in Charleston and the fallout, prompting him to write a song to flesh out his feelings on it. The name of the song is “Still A Southern Man.” In an interview with Rolling Stone, Hoge says he used to fly the rebel flag with pride, as the name of his high school was the Franklin Rebels and the mascot was a rebel solider. But as he grew up and saw more places as he travelled, he begun to realize the confederate flag didn’t represent what he thought and the Charleston shooting drove this point home to him.

So that leads us to “Still A Southern Man,” which is this: an outright protest and condemnation of the confederate flag. Hoge recorded the song in a single night at RCA Studio A in Nashville and in this song he has no qualms revealing his thoughts on the issue. The line that drives home his point the best to me is the following:

“There’s an old flag waving overhead/and I used to think it meant one thing.

Now I know it’s just a hammer driving nails in the coffin of a long dead land.” 

See what I meant about Hoge’s conviction? It’s such an admirable trait in a songwriter and the amount of punch behind these lyrics are clearly felt. Hoge sings about his immense amount of pride for the south and it’s culture, but he clearly wants the confederate flag no longer associated with it, as he feels it represents hate and racism, not the pride of southern culture. And just because he’s dismissing the rebel flag, doesn’t mean he isn’t a southern man as Hoge sings. The guitars blare throughout this song, giving it a rocking and catchy groove. Hoge is borderline furious as he sings throughout the song, giving this song even more edge. Everything comes together to give this song a perfect attitude for a protest song.

Just like Rachel Potter with “Jesus and Jezebel,” Hoge’s “Still A Southern Man” tackles an issue that the majority of artists in country music wouldn’t dare touch. Not only that, but Hoge boldly and outright condemns something that a good size group of people in country music support. I find this song to be very important because many outside the circles of country music love to stick country music with the stereotype of it being music for racist white trash and hillbillies. This is obviously not true. At the same time though it makes the genre look bad when many of the big names of country music refuse to tackle issues relevant in pop culture at the moment. Along with Kacey Musgraves, Hoge isn’t afraid to tackle these issues and appears more proactive compared to his contemporaries as a result. This song is a prime example of true artistry and conveying strong feelings in a thoughtful manner, proving another example that country music is a deep and thoughtful genre open to anyone.

Grade: 10/10

7 thoughts on “Review – Will Hoge’s “Still A Southern Man”

  1. Lisandro Berry-Gaviria July 29, 2015 / 1:16 pm

    “I find this song to be very important because many outside the circles of country music love to stick country music with the stereotype of it being music for racist white trash and hillbillies.”
    Boom! You said it Josh!

    About the song…all I can say is: wow. This is absolutely outstanding—even if it leans more towards rock than country, I LOVE IT! Hoge’s vocals and charisma are amazing, the writing is masterful; even the electric guitar-driven instrumentation adds to the angry tone of the song. Great protest song and definitely a front-runner for my favorite song of the year!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Derek Hudgin July 29, 2015 / 1:34 pm

    Will pulls no punches with this song and I love it!

    “I wanted it to be the symbol of a boy who wasn’t scared to take a stand.”

    That lyric seems to be the most fitting of the whole song since Hoge is obviously not scared to take a stand against this issue.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh Schott July 29, 2015 / 1:39 pm

      I can see why he’s one of your favorites. His personality is easy to get behind and cutting sings like this show, as you say, he isn’t scared of controversial issues. This is a true artist.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. brettp July 29, 2015 / 4:11 pm

    Country needs more people sticking to their guns like Hoge is doing no doubt, taking a stand. I personally dont agree with everything mentioned in the song, but i admire him for that. Not getting into a race issue or anything, i just dont believe flags are to blame for blatant acts of violence, obviously this country doesnt or you wouldnt find in muslim or nazi flags anywhere either, but oh well. No more Dukes of Hazzard was the last straw for me. Protest songs definitely make great country songs. The Hags Fightin Side of Me comes to mind.

    Like

    • RG July 30, 2015 / 9:18 am

      Yep, already missing the Duke boys, Ol’ Boss Hog, and The Hoss as Balladeer and Narrator. I am ok with taking the Flag down from State Grounds around the South, but taking the Dukes of Hazzard off of tv is kinda ridiculous.

      But I applaud Hoge for his stand on the issue even though I think he takes his defiant lyrics a little too far in denouncing the old Battle Flag.

      Like

  4. Kevin Davis July 29, 2015 / 7:18 pm

    As I have expressed on this site before, I love Will Hoge. You are right, Josh, this is a true artist, and I have the utmost respect for him — and for this song. However, I struggle with the whole flag issue.

    Despite having grown-up in a solidly blue-collar Southern family in the lowest of the middle class, I did not actually grow-up with the rebel flag in any capacity. It just wasn’t anything that my parents had any interest in, nor my extended family. Yet, I have known far too many people — neighbors, friends, acquaintances, strangers — who do indeed display the rebel flag in some capacity, whether as a license plate or on a garage wall or on a t-shirt. I know them, some better than others, and I know what it means to them. For example, my next door neighbor has a rebel flag on one of his vehicles, and he is the most selfless and caring person in the whole neighborhood. This past winter, during one of our rare snow storms, he went around the neighborhood and asked if anyone needed him to pick-up groceries or supplies, because he had a 4×4. (Our neighborhood has three steep hills, by the way.) Given the vitriol on social media, this neighbor of mine is an asshole, at best, or an outright racist, at worst. Because he displays this flag.

    My point is that this is (obviously) a very complicated issue, far more complicated than the dozens of NPR reports that I heard over this past month. People — good people — are demonized and judged in the process. And, yes, the cancellation of The Dukes of Hazzard is the epitome of this mindless hysteria, which does nothing to further genuine debate and conciliation.

    And, yet, I am very happy to hear Will Hoge’s voice on this matter, an opinion which we surely need to hear.

    Liked by 1 person

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