The Hodgepodge: One Year Writing for Country Perspective

It was late July 2014 when, while browsing the internet and looking at various country music reviews, I stumbled upon a website called Country Perspective. For the life of me, I can’t remember how I found the site, but I’m glad I did. Because a couple of weeks later, Josh posted an announcement that he was looking for another writer to join the site. After giving it some thought on if I wanted to devote the time and make a long-term commitment (assuming I’d be accepted), I reached out and expressed my interest in joining. The rest, they say, is history.

I’ve always had an affinity for writing. In college I began writing screenplays and ended up writing three feature length screenplays along with some short films. Also included with that were two blogs which had short lives and a personal website that acted more like an online resume more than a blog, but I’d do an occasional movie review or something along those lines on the site. I’m not a full-time writer, but having it as a hobby/part-time side gig is awesome.

My first article published on Country Perspective was a call-out to mainstream country about bringing women back to the forefront. Taylor Swift had recently announced her move to pop, and it left a gaping hole in country music, and I offered up 5 options (aside from Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, and Kacey Musgraves) on who could fill that gap. One year and 2 days and 91 posts later, I’m still here and not ready to leave anytime soon.

As a writer and reviewer, I like to think I’ve grown and improved over the past year. I quickly learned that to write a thorough album review, I’d have to shut the rest of the world off for 45 minutes and simply listen and take notes. And the more I listened and reviewed and read others’ reviews, the more I was able to pick up on. The production and instrumentation were probably my weakest area on figuring out what nuances and qualities of the production compliment the lyrics well. Drawing out the stories and subtext from lyrics took a little work, but it’s honestly one of my favorite parts of listening to music and reviewing it, figuring out the story and sharing it. One of my most favorite reviews I’ve written was for Diamondwolf’s Your Time Has Come. The depth and complexity of the lyrics in some of the songs made the review fun to write.  Also, as a writer, I felt challenged to improve my writing, especially in that review, in order to articulate my thoughts on the album accurately.

I’ll keep this short because I don’t like the prattle on about myself, but I enjoy being a part of Country Perspective. I’ve seen the site grow in readers and in the respect we have among other writers and blog runners. While I can’t take any credit for the creation of our hit features like The Pulse, The Hodgepodge and the podcast, I’m proud to be a partner and contributor to a site that’s become a staple to many of you who come looking for country music coverage beyond the mainstream. I’ve had a lot of fun interacting with artists, fellow bloggers, and readers.

Here’s to another year, and a better year (because there’s always room for improvement) at Country Perspective!

Upcoming/Recent Country Music Releases

  • Tomorrow, the long-awaited debut album from Maddie and Tae will be released. Start Here is streaming on NPR if you want to listen to it early.
  • As announced last week, Carrie Underwood will release her next studio album, Storyteller, on October 23rd.
  • The Josh Abbott Band will release their fourth studio album in November. Front Row Seat is described by Abbott as a concept album and an honest look at the singer’s divorce. The album’s lead single is called “Amnesia”.
  • Michael Ray has announced his next single will be “Real Men Love Jesus.”
  • Danielle Bradbery’s next single will be called “Friend Zone.”
  • The Voice winner and country music singer, Jake Worthington, will release his debut EP this October.

Today in Country Music History

  • In 1974, Charley Pride records the Johnny Duncan-penned “I Ain’t All Bad.”
  • The Dixie Chicks’ album, Home, is released in 2002.
  • In 2005, CMT released a list of the “20 Greatest City Songs” with Merle Haggard’s “Okie From Muskogee” coming in at number 1.

Today’s Country Music history facts come courtesy of RolandNote.

Throwback Thursday Song

“Jackson” by Johnny Cash and June Carter. This is one of country’s most famous duets, and for a good reason. From John’s deep baritone to June’s higher register, their voices complement one another perfectly. Sit back and enjoy this Opry performance of “Jackson” from 1968.

Non-Country Suggestion of the Week

Andy Grammer’s Self Titled Debut. Last week, I had the chance to see a free concert from Andy Grammer. The only song I knew from Grammer before the show was “Honey, I’m Good”, which I still think is an obnoxious song. I was pleasantly surprised by the rest of his music and quite frankly, Grammer’s a good entertainer on stage. He can beat box well, can play a variety of instruments, and sings nicely live. It was a good show. So his debut album, the one without “Honey, I’m Good,” is my non-country suggestion for this week.

Tweet of the Week

And all the people said, “Amen!”

Two iTunes Reviews That Made Me Laugh

Screen Shot 2015-08-25 at 9.48.57 PM

These were both left under The Band Perry’s “Live Forever.” Based on sales and early response, The Band Perry pop experiment doesn’t appear to be working as well as some may have hoped. These two people weren’t fooled at all.

22 thoughts on “The Hodgepodge: One Year Writing for Country Perspective

  1. fromthewordsofbr August 27, 2015 / 10:44 am

    While I do agree that his debut album and first handful of singles were far better than “Honey, I’m Good.”, it just feels…..samey to me for some reason.


    • Derek Hudgin August 27, 2015 / 10:46 am

      Well yeah, it’s not like it’s groundbreaking pop music or anything like that. His music is better than I originally gave him credit for


  2. Raymond August 27, 2015 / 10:49 am

    Congrats Derek. My favorite review you wrote would probably be for Lady Antebellum’s 747 album even if I found it to be a 5-6 out of 10.

    So excited for the Maddie & Tae review. I’m expecting a 3/10 for a minimal and a 6 as the highest. I haven’t heard it yet but I’m hopeful it’s good.

    The Michael Ray song meh thats it.

    The Danielle Bradbery song is her trying to be Ariana Grande. No that’s not a compliment. Really Big Machine I think are trying for all their acts to crossover.

    Which has got me thinking if the rumors are true Maddie & Tae have a more traditional album. Why are a new duo doing there thing but TBP, Danielle and EYB all making songs that are trying to crossover when really none of those songs will crossover.

    The Carrie album is definitley something to look forward too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lorenzo August 27, 2015 / 11:01 am

    congrats Derek! Here’s to the years to come! 🙂

    can’t wait for the Start Here review! I have listened to the whole record and I absolutely love it, but I want to know what you think about it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. southtexaspistolero August 27, 2015 / 11:07 am

    Congrats! CP has gotten to be one of my favorite blogs, even if I might not comment too much. I started out as a writer myself — majored in communication, worked at my college paper for a couple of years and then at a small-town Texas paper for about 2 1/2 years before I came to San Antonio. Now I just write in other folks’ comment sections and at my own blog.

    I bought the Dixie Chicks album the day it came out and loved it. To my ear still, it, Alan Jackson’s Drive, and Lee Ann Womack’s There’s More Where That Came From are the best mainstream country albums of the new millennium. I lost it a couple of moves ago but went and re-bought it from Amazon not long ago, and it’s still just as good now was it was back then. They had quite the meteoric rise; I remember buying their first major-label album, Wide Open Spaces the day it came out back in 1998. It debuted at like No. 117 on the Billboard 200 with like 4,000 copies sold. I never would have thought that less than a year later they’d be one of the most popular acts in country music, let alone that they had an album like Home in them. And like I said elsewhere, when you look at how mainstream country music has changed in the years since it was released, and think about how Home would be received if it came out now versus how it was received when it did come out (two Top 2 hits on country radio, one No. 1, and 6 million-plus copies of the album sold), it’s just downright depressing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Raymond August 27, 2015 / 11:15 am

      I think there’ll never be an act ever like The Dixie Chicks ever again. Because I nevet see another country star making such different albums like Home which is still the best country album ever bar none. Then they followed up with Taking The Long Way which was just such an intresting listen. I wish there were still around because there music’s was just so good and now it’s gone.


  5. Josh Schott August 27, 2015 / 11:33 am

    Well I’m glad you found the site just in time! I had actually never asked Derek how he found the site before for those wonder, I just remember being glad that the first one to answer my call to join the site was a great writer. I was paranoid that everyone who would apply to write for it would be terrible writers and I would have to turn them down. But as soon as I was done reading Derek’s tryout piece I knew it had to be published. I got a few months into running this blog when I had come to realize how much work it is keeping a blog fresh with content and growing it to catch people’s attentions. Derek coming aboard was a huge relief for me and there was no way I would have gotten through that slog of mainstream country album released in the fall of 2014 if it wasn’t for Derek’s help. Hell this blog wouldn’t be where it’s at without Derek’s help, so thank you Derek for all you’ve done for Country Perspective and helping me take this little blog to a size I never imagined. I truly appreciate it. Also sorry for making your first review the Motley Crue tribute album. Haha! I still cringe when I think about Justin Moore trying to hit the high notes on “Home Sweet Home.” What a terrible album.

    Love that album from The Dixie Chicks. A lot of good songs on it.

    That second iTunes review deserves a cookie for it’s cleverness. Well done, Spencer1212!

    By the way for those who didn’t see my tweet about it, my Maddie & Tae review will be out tomorrow.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Megan Conley August 27, 2015 / 11:55 am

      Yeah, it’s a lot of work. You guys make a great team, neither of you will praise Florida Georgia Line, but at the same time, your opinions are always different enough to be refreshing. I’m glad you filled in this part of the puzzle because I was wondering how many terrible writers you had to deal with before Derek 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • Derek Hudgin August 27, 2015 / 12:06 pm

      Thanks Josh!

      That Crue tribute album was fun to write! Rascal Flatts trying to do “Kickstart My Heart” was one of the worst things I’ve ever heard.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Cobra August 27, 2015 / 12:44 pm

      Tell me about it! That’s why my blog has slowed so much because running one alone with so much else to do in my life is exhausting. Personally, I just enjoy coming here reading your guys’ work much more!

      Thanks to both of you for continuing an honest and fresh blog with regular and relevant contact. Keep writing and I’ll keep reading!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Zack August 27, 2015 / 11:40 am

    Congratulations Derek! It’s been awesome reading your posts here. You and Josh certainly make an awesome team! My favorite review of yours is probably James McMurtry’s “Complicated Game”, you tackled it extremely well was an intriguing read! Very much looking forward to see what you (and Josh) continue to bring to the site!

    Hey Raymond, I wouldn’t worry about the Maddie and Tae review, I highly doubt that all it got was a 6. If so, it may be the first CP review I heavily disagree with 😉

    Those Band Perry comments are refreshing to see, especially that second one! I actually made that joke on a blog not too long ago, but I’m glad someone else noticed the similarity!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Derek Hudgin August 27, 2015 / 12:06 pm

      Thanks Zack! McMurtry’s album was another one of those that was a challenging, but fun write.


  7. Megan Conley August 27, 2015 / 11:47 am

    Congratulations Derek! Not to say that I don’t love both what you and Josh have to say now, but your writing is what made me a regular reader of this blog. I remember the first thing I read from you was your Kelsea Ballerini review, and (this is a loose paraphrase) your comment that Billy Currington could say, “Hey girl” and she’d just reply, “Yeah, boy” and they’d go off to park somewhere. I’d already planned to start my own blog doing music reviews sometime soon when I found that, but something about the blatant honesty in that review and comment sped up the process for me. I thought, There need to be more reviews out there like that, I want to write like that. Like I said, now I enjoy hearing from both you and Josh, but I came to Country Perspective originally because of you. Originally, I thought you started this blog together; I didn’t realize you came in later, but I’m so glad you answered Josh’s post.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Cobra August 27, 2015 / 12:45 pm

    Congratulations on a one-year anniversary Derek!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Megan Conley August 27, 2015 / 12:57 pm

    Just broke my own rule about streaming things ahead of time to listen to that Maddie & Tae album, and I have to say, this is the first time I’ve seen hope for mainstream country in a long time.


    • Zack August 27, 2015 / 2:11 pm

      And to think it’s coming from Big Machine…..

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lisandro Berry-Gaviria August 27, 2015 / 7:48 pm

      Streaming it right now and it’s excellent. However, I’d only say that it spells hope for mainstream country music if the singles they release after “Fly” peaks have respectable peaks of their own on radio. “Shut Up And Fish” and “Sierra,” out of the songs I’ve heard so far, would probably be nice single choices because of their sassy, funny attitudes (similar to “Girl In A Country Song”). As we all know, females (especially up-and-comers) have to be smart with their single choices these days…

      Liked by 3 people

      • fromthewordsofbr August 28, 2015 / 10:25 am

        What about “Waitin’ on a Plane”? It’s hard to listen to an album when you have the opening track on repeat.


      • Lisandro Berry-Gaviria August 28, 2015 / 10:44 am

        Haha! Yes, “Waitin’ On A Plane” is a great song as well and a fitting opener for the album…yet I think “Shut Up And Fish” and “Sierra” would make better single choices (at least for now) because the lyricism is more appealing to all the pop-culture teenage listeners currently flooding “country” music. 🙂


  10. Lisandro Berry-Gaviria August 27, 2015 / 8:12 pm

    Congrats Derek!

    To be honest, my favorite review of yours that I ever read was probably Kelsea Ballerini’s “The First Time.” What can I say? I love negative reviews… 🙂
    I haven’t listened to Michael Ray or Danielle Bradberry’s new singles, but neither of the titles sound good.
    Just finished listening to Maddie & Tae’s album, and upon first listen I’d grade it a 9/10, which would be tied for my favorite mainstream album this year with “Pageant Material” and “Angels And Alcohol” (although I don’t even know if either of those count because radio hates Musgraves and Jackson). I’ll have to give it multiple listens to make sure, though.

    That second iTunes review is a total burn. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Derek Hudgin August 27, 2015 / 9:51 pm

      Thank you! I also enjoy my write up of Kelsea Ballerini 🙂


  11. petemarshall724 August 27, 2015 / 10:57 pm

    Congrats Derek on your I year anniversary!


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