Finally somebody said it, and of course, it was a somebody that has nothing to prove to anybody… Mr. Man of the People, Luke Combs.
In country music there’s this penchant for name-dropping legends of the past, almost like the only way you can earn your country music street cred is if you fell out of the womb singing Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings.
The only way you can be real country is if you say you grew up on Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. Problem is… some feed right into it.
You know the artists, the younger ones that say their biggest influence is Hank Williams or Merle Haggard, but then they go ahead and sing “country” songs that sound like Justin Bieber. Those are the ones we’re talking about here.
You can see through that bullshit coming a mile away, but it doesn’t stop people from doing it.
I’m 34 years old, a little bit older than Luke. My mom grew up listening to country, for my dad, it was classic rock. As a kid, I heard Merle and Dolly and Patsy and Willie here and there, but that wasn’t what I grew up on and that definitely wasn’t what I was listening to as a kid.
I was listening to Alan Jackson, Reba, Brooks and Dunn, Garth Brooks, Alabama, and the other country greats from the early ’90s. Sprinkle in a little bit of Blink 182, Green Day, Eminem and the Counting Crows and you have my childhood in a nutshell.
And for Luke Combs, it was more or less, the same.
In an interview with Rolling Stone Country a few years back, Luke shared some insight into the music he grew up listening to, the same music that influenced the superstar artist he is today.
“I would love to lie to you so people would think I was cool and say I was listening to Merle Haggard records when I was 10 years old, but I wasn’t.”
Nope, Luke was listening to Brooks & Dunn, Garth Brooks, and Vince Gill, just like many of us did, and he’s not afraid to say it. Where many young artists like to say they grew up on Hank and Merle, and of course some did, Luke continues to shoot you straight every single time.
And that doesn’t mean that Luke didn’t come to appreciate them later in life, especially as he continues to fine tune his craft. For example, he really got into Willie Nelson’s Stardust record in college, and judging by the Haggard hat he’s been wearing lately, he found the time to dive in the Hag.
Either way, it’s just refreshing to hear someone speak honestly about the subject.
It’s clear from his music, what he says to the media, and just the way he carries himself, that authenticity is the motto for Luke Combs, and no doubt, a large part of why he’s attracted the massive audience that he has.
And speaking of childhood favorites, Luke recently released a cover of “Fast Car,” originally written and recorded by Tracy Chapman in 1988.