Tyler Childers Calls Out Songwriters Who Live In Nashville But Write About Rural America

Tyler Childers country music
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Tyler Childers recently got the attention of country music fans with the announcement of his new album Rustin’ In The Rain and its lead single “In Your Love.”

Though the music video has come with some mixed reviews, the new project from Childers has excited his fanbase to see what the Kentucky singer and songwriter will bring to the table next.

Childers has always stayed true to his roots, and decided to once again speak honestly on his thoughts about modern day music coming out of Nashville in a recent interview with NPR.

The interview started to walk the line of culture and cliché, and how both are represented in country music today. Childers was asked about how he stays true to his touchstones while also managing to avoid some of the clichés that come with modern (pop) country music. Childers skillfully responded:

“If I want to use the imagery of something, it’s a tool to put you in a place. Like, I don’t make the prop the character. Often in commercial country, they’re pitching you on that prop, like, ‘We’re in our truck.’ Not, ‘I was in my particular truck to go to do a particular thing.’

The truck’s just there to paint the picture. And I just try to see how it fits in the song and keep the cheese out of it.”

NPR then decided to dive even further into that idea, saying that the country music you hear the most on the radio has gotten away from particulars and tends to speak rather in generalities. The interviewer stated that in a Merle Haggard song, you would “feel the truck,” but that connection is lost with most mainstream country coming out.

The “Feathered Indians” singer agreed, saying:

“Merle Haggard grew up dirt poor, working his tail off. And you can grow up like that, and work your way out of it and understand the weight of where you’re at now. And you’re never going to forget how hungry people are.”

Childers then goes on to somewhat call out the Nashville music scene, still expressing appreciation for Music City and what it stands for, but being singularly disappointed by many of the artists that act like they’ve came from hard times when they really haven’t:

“I think a lot of times now, if you look at the songwriters in country, where do they live? Nashville is an extremely necessary town; everybody’s got to meet somewhere, and this is a heck of a meeting place. But there’s this hard disconnect.

The writers didn’t necessarily grow up in a rural setting, but the nostalgia for that way of life resonates with them in some way. So they’re working within these stereotypes of this nostalgia that they might not even have any reference point to understand.”

Childers continues to lay out some of the issues with modern country music, while also justifying his songwriting and storytelling, since it’s based on his actual life and upbringing:

“My mom loved me to death, and my dad worked his tail off. I didn’t want for nothing. But it came at a price. Time away from family; they worked very hard to take care of us. They instilled in me to work and understand the weight of that. I grew up in that community. And then I lived in that community.”

The sentiments that Childers expressed in the NPR interview align with another sit down piece that he did with Spotify in 2019. By no means is Tyler “anti-Nashville,” but he does have a realistic perspective on the songwriting scene.

Childers stated back then:

“If I’m writing for a place specifically, then I need to be fully immersed in that place. Because there’s little things, turns of phrases and just nuances of the lifestyle that if you’re off 6-7 hours away in a big city, how do you get to witness that if you’re not there?

Nashville is an extremely necessary place for what we’re doing being in the music industry, but as far as if you’re just wanting to write songs and country songs especially, why would you move to the largest growing and developing city in the nation to write country songs about rural life?

Once you’re immersed in that, there’s just a disconnect to the reality of what country life is.”

Childers seems to just be speaking the truth and telling fans and listeners how he really feels, as he does with his songwriting. As previously mentioned, he decided to tell the story of a distant family member’s forbidden romance in his new song “In Your Love,” which has been hard to swallow for some of Tyler’s longtime fans.

However, it seems as though he’s just continuing to tell stories of places he has been “fully immersed in,” and though the subject matter might be divisive to some, it’s definitely far from stereotypical.

Take a listen:

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock