Three new songs were released last Friday (September 15th) that use the lyrics, titles or melodies of other artists or songs as the basis for their own foundations. This is becoming increasingly popular within Country music although the genre as a whole still lags a little behind other genres in the prevalence of sampling and re-purposing as a tool for creativity. Critics would argue that the purity and authenticity of Country music is a sacrosanct thing and that originality of thought and idea is a key component of the genre whilst we would argue that creativity can take a myriad of forms and using the ideas and melodies of other musicians and creatives is just another form of creativity in itself.
There are a few, but not that many, examples of where Country artists have used samples, melodies, lyrics and song titles in generating their own, original work. Last year Cole Swindell had a huge hit with a re-imaging of Jo Dee Messina’s ‘Heads Carolina’. Previously, Sam Hunt and his writing team famously used a sample of Webb Pierce’s 1953 hit ‘There Stands the Glass’ as the basis and structure for ‘Hard to Forget’ whilst Thomas Rhett’s ‘Marry Me’ is a country ballad that samples the melody from Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major, a classical composition. Other examples of artists using pre-existing ideas include Lil Was X’s ‘Old Town Road’ which incorporates a sample from the Nine Inch Nails track ’34 Ghosts IV.’ Mo Pitney’s ‘Country’ is a country song that uses a sample from Johnny Cash’s ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ and other artists like Old Dominion have used song titles to generate lines in their own work, as seen in ‘Song for Another Time’. Additionally, it was possibly Taylor Swift who first used another artist’s name with her song ‘Tim McGraw’ that kick-started a new tradition of saying homage to the greats of the past.
Even Kane Brown is getting in on the act. There’s a moment in his new song, ‘I Can Feel It’, which is released this Friday (22nd September) in which he sings “I can feel it, coming in the air tonight’, in a tribute to Phil Collins!
Three songs came out last Friday, however, that contain some or all of these elements, which is quite unusual all on one release day. Let’s look at them individually.
Dustin Lynch – ‘Chevrolet’ ft Jelly Roll
This melodic banger sees Lynch and the well-deservedly ubiquitous Jelly Roll using the exact melody of the timeless classic ‘Drift Away’ by Dobie Grey. “There is something in the air in Nashville right now, where writers are on the same wavelength and doing cool things like interpolating classic songs into something new. When ‘Chevrolet’ came across our plate, it floored me. Everyone knows Dobie Gray’s ‘Drift Away’ – the melody of that song is timeless,” shares Lynch. “Having Jelly Roll on it adds an extra edge.” Have a listen to the song below, we think it’s great and very clever.
Madeline Merlo – ‘Tim + Faith’
This melodious ode and moving tribute pays homage to the era of country music that launched superstars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill and solidified the devoted marriage between Country music’s power couple. Part Tayor Swift-esque tribute, part Old Dominion song title usage and part Dustin Lynch in that Merlo uses the melody of McGraw’s iconic ‘It’s Your Love’ as her chorus, but with slightly different lyrics.
“‘Tim + Faith’ is a song that pulls from my love of 90s Country music, and combines it with the feeling of everlasting love,” said Merlo. “I got married last year and one thing my husband and I say to each other all the time is ‘It’s always you & me.’ That line, along with getting to be a small part of Cole Swindell’s ‘Heads Carolina’ last year, inspired me to pay homage to one of my favorites, ‘It’s Your Love,’ with this song.”
Tanner Adell – ‘Luke Combs’
This delightful, acoustic tribute to Luke Combs uses some of his song titles as lines and reference points in the song. Adell has just released a deluxe version of her ‘Buckle Bunny’ mixtape and ‘Luke Combs’ is one of two new songs added in.
“The way Luke Combs writes love songs is how I want a song written about me one day,” shares Adell. “That was the inspiration behind my ‘Luke Combs’ song. I hope it connects with all the girls who maybe don’t see themselves in traditional Country love songs today, but love to dream about the love they heard on the radio growing up.”