The Song Survives
1. Some songs, no matter how much production they receive, never transcend the demo. Not that Eli Young Band doesn’t give it the old college try, but this song was meant to be sung by Will Hoge, the man who wrote it. These sorts of songs only come with time, sweat, tears, and the experience of desperation. To hear Hoge’s voice quaver is to know the years he has spent on the road, his near-fatal accident, and the stardom that has eluded him thus far. Despite this, his optimism — or rugged determination — is what carries this song to greatness.
2. Hoge takes the same tack on this song as his idol Bruce Springsteen — unabashed honesty. The Boss has been called “the last of the innocents” for his tendency to wear his heart on his sleeve, and Hoge wisely does the same here. The song is both an exhortation to up and coming artists as well as an autobiography — first noting the sounds that drew him to his lifelong love, then taking the listener to the sidewalks outside clubs that he was too young to enter. The story, however inspiring, remains unfinished. If there is any justice in the world, then Hoge’s path has more success than just getting this song on mainstream country radio.
3. This song contains no great Jimmy Webb arrangement or Kristoffersonian wisdom, just an honest appeal to sticking it out, delivered with a truckload of conviction. Tom Petty said you shouldn’t sing anything that you don’t believe is true. In that, Hoge finds a recipe for success.