RONNIE DUNN, PART 1: CELEBRATING PEACE LOVE AND COUNTRY MUSIC
Following his epic run in Brooks & Dunn, Ronnie Dunn has charted his own course through two albums. Arista released his self-titled, self-produced solo debut in 2011. And on April 8, he followed with Peace Love and Country Music on his own Little Will-E Records.
Dunn co-wrote three of the album’s 14 tracks and composed three more on his own. Each one, from the swaggering, blue-collar anthem “Grown Damn Man” and party rocker “Let’s Get the Beer Joint Rockin’” to the romantic and intimate “Kiss You There,” showcases his unmistakable voice as well as his gift for connecting with listeners who value authenticity in their Country Music.
Peace Love and Country Music is available on CD exclusively from Country Outfitter at www.CountryOutfitter.com. Digital copies can be purchased at all digital retailers.
Let’s begin with a general songwriter question: How did you manage to get elected to the Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas Songwriters Halls of Fame?
I went to 13 schools in 12 years. My grandparents are all from El Dorado, Arkansas, which is south/central. I spent about an equal period of time between there, Oklahoma and Texas. I was born in Texas. My dad played in a band outside of Abilene. He was a ranch foreman. Before I got out of college, I spent 15 or so years playing in bars and clubs in Oklahoma.
A lot of the songs on Peace Love and Country Music touch on themes that commercial Country songs touch on too, but you handle them in a different way.
I wrote “Neon Moon” 20 years ago. I was playing in big bars in Oklahoma with neon moons all over the walls. I was trying to represent that lifestyle and paint that picture. It was the same kind of thing with “Cowgirls Rock ‘n’ Roll.” The title started from me sitting around and going, “I’m going to throw every one of today’s catch phrases into the song that I can: cowgirls, rock ‘n’ roll, cowboys, tattoos, all this stuff. I got into it and started having fun with it.
Is writing a song based on a list of images a different process than writing a more standard type of tune?
I like using those images. That’s a fun way of painting, so to speak, as opposed to just pure, unadulterated emotion. To me, those are often the best songs, the simplest and the most heartfelt. A lot of songs in Nashville are guilty of being overwritten – too much imagery, too many words, too much “this and that.”
Several songs here seem like direct commentary on the state of Country Music. On “Country in Texas,” for example, you rail against bands that play metal riffs in Country Music – but there are some pretty good Country riffs on this album too![Laughs.] That is a tongue-in-cheek swipe at what a lot of people’s takes are. That was fun to write.
Why did you cover “You Don’t Know Me?” You came up with an interesting arrangement, turning it almost into an R&B ballad.
That’s one of my favorite songs of all time, since I was a little kid. I won the Marlboro Contest singing that and “Boot Scoot Boogie” in 1988. My wife said, “Please promise me that before you die, before you stop singing, you’ll put that song down for me.” So I did it for her.
How did Ronnie Dunn wind up renting his first place in Nashville from Johnny and June Carter Cash? To find out, check back at CMACloseUp.com for Part 2 of our interview with Ronnie Dunn.
Check out the official lyric video to “I Wish I Still Smoked Cigarettes,” from Peace Love and Country Music:
Photo credit: Jim Arndt