Friday, September 16, 2016

SR: Jon Pardi "Head Over Boots" #1 & "Dirt On My Boots"

Good things come to those who wait. More traditional country fans were able to rejoice. "Head Over Boots" by Jon Pardi of his second album "CALIFORNIA SUNRISE" which was co-produced by the Northern Californian finally reached the top spot as the most played country single on the radio (Billboard) after a staggering 44 weeks on the charts by the end of August (8/27).

The song, an unusual shuffle (well at least in these times) with a slight rockabilly beat to it, sounds modern, even though it has a retro feel to it. It could have easily been done (in an even more traditional way) in the '60s by Conway, Ray, or Eddie.

Asked by trade magazine Billboard why he was using traditional instrumentation like a fiddle (Jenee Fleener) and steel guitar (Mike Johnson) on his recording - which is missing in today's country songs, Pardi was quoted:

Fiddle all day! There’s a lot of fiddle on this record. There are a lot of old sayings from the '90s and ‘00s: "Shuffles won’t work on country radio." "You can’t have a pedal steel lead on country radio." If someone says you can’t have a fiddle on county radio... this is what I grew up with. I’m helping country sound a little more country.

Playing the late Buck Owens Birthday Bash that weekend in Bakersfield, he received a signature Buck Owens guitar from local Bakersfield station KUZZ, as you can see in the picture above. Not only citing Buck but California country music in general, Pardi was quoted:

"This guitar represents CALIFORNIA, and I'm proud to help make people aware of BUCK's legacy." 

Visiting his dad many, many moons ago in Central Texas, they visited Twin Sisters Dancehall (where they later also filmed the video) outside of Blanco together. That's where he got the inspiration for the song. Back in Nashville, he sat down with Luke Laird, and they co-wrote "Head Over Boots," both not really sure they had written a hit song.

And some radio DJs actually had to be twisted in their arms, as they were claiming that the song was too traditional for today's radio. Well UMGN, Capitol's parent company was able to convince the DJs with solid numbers. Pardi started selling the song digitally and outsold many other artists, who were way farther up in the charts, the song was certified Gold for over 635'000 downloads - and still sells about 9000 copies a week. He also did extremely well in "streaming" - his youTube views for the lyric and the conventional video added up for over 21 million streams, all streams combined (YouTube, Spotify, etc..) over 100 million streams. These are impressive numbers if you compare them to the terrible "Fix" #1 hit and Chris Lane (see SR: No "Fix" please - make Chris Lane disappear!) who has only around 7.5 million streams on YouTube.

★★★★(★)/★★★★★ (4½/5)        
(scroll down to read about his new single "Dirt On My Boots")

I was hoping that the record company would follow this number one single with the outstanding "She Ain't In It," a song that evokes the timeless superiority of George Strait he defined for over 35 years. Maybe that's gonna be single number three of "CALIFORNIA SUNRISE." First, the powers there are, wanna keep the momentum going with boots, well more specific with "Dirt On My Boots."

Unfortunately, musical-wise the song is a U-turn to stupid radio mediocrity. There may be Banjo, Fiddle, and Steel accents in it, but the modern production destroys the real country feel of the lyrics. Written by Rhett Akins, Ashley Gorley, and Jesse Frasure, the song was according to a radio interview in Pardi's words 'way out there':

“, it was a super hip-hop kind of style. But I loved the lyrics; the lyrics were so country. I just loved that; that’s what really appealed to me [...} So we took it and made it more country, and I think it kinda really made a cool sound.”

WTF, somebody please chase Jesse Frasure out of the Country realm, back to Nicki Minaj or Drake. As a songwriter he's responsible for some of the worst crap coming out of Nashville - "High Class" (Eric Paslay), "Fix" (Chris Lane), "Road Less Traveled" (Lauren Alaina), and "Like The Sound Of That" (Rascal Flatts) just to name a few.

“Dirt on My Boots” was produced by Pardi and his long-time demo producer Bart Butler. Lyrically the song actually can be referenced to the old country theme of going out on a Saturday night, like Lefty Frizzell did in his tune "Shine Shave Shower" - with its lyrics:

Gonna shine, shave, shower, and brush my teeth
Go out a dancing and forget my grief
Make all the nightclubs in this town
'Cause my sweet baby's gonna show me around

It basically is a hard-working blue-collar guy, who wants to go out and woo his gal dancing with her in his high heeled cowboy boots:

Been up since the crack of dawn
Just trying to be paid
Been hotter than a thousand suns
I can't find no shade
Just two more rows and I'm good to go
Yeah, I'm shutting this tractor down
Get me a half an hour for a shave and a shower
And I'll be outside your house

and in the refrain (excerpt)
Gonna hit the club, gonna cut a rug
Burn it up like neon lights
Might have a little dirt on my boots
But we're gonna dance the dust right off them tonight
Got a little dirt on my boots

As a gentleman he even promises to leave his dirty boots outside, if he should be invited for coffee after the dancing:
Baby, we can slip right out of that barroom door
And when I take you home, don't worry babe
I'm gonna kick them off on the porch

The discrepancy between the quality of music and lyrics is so high that I included two different numbers, added up and divided by two, they give the rating of "Dirt On My Boots" as 3 out of 5.

Music: ★(★) 1½ - Lyrics: ★★★★(★) 4½                                                   ★★★/★★★★★ (3/5)

Sources: Billboard, Mediabase, Roughstock, Vevo, BMI

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