Jerrod Niemann Proudly Does Things His Way
With two Number One singles notched on his belt, Jerrod Niemann has proved his writing can run the gamut of styles. “Lover, Lover,” which hit the top spot in 2010, is an acoustic-driven almost-coffeehouse jam, while his latest Number One, “Drink to That All Night,” is custom-built for the dance club. And Niemann, who celebrated the success of “Drink to That All Night” recently at a Number One party in Nashville, is proud of that diversity.
“I’m thankful that the two widest array of songs are successful, because I love being a part of all that’s different,” he said prior to receiving the milestone plaque for his most recent number 1. Those musical differences, however, are what set country fans at odds. Some revel in the progressive sound of “Drink to That All Night,” while others are rejecting its non-traditional nature.
Niemann, a knowledgeable country music historian who co-wrote the Chris LeDoux tribute “Good Ride Cowboy” for Garth Brooks –he has “Lefty,” to honor the late Lefty Frizzell, tattooed on his arm, looks to a legendary country outlaw for some reassurance.
“When Willie Nelson wrote ‘Write Your Own Songs,’ and then he and Waylon did it, I never thought that they were getting flack from country fans,” said Niemann, taking a sip of a Moscow mule, dubbed a Moscow “donkey” on the cocktail menu for the afternoon party. “But when you hear, ‘Hey, Mr. Purified Country, is your head so far up your ass that you don’t realize we’re in a world where we all belong?’ you hear that they were getting enough complaints that they wanted to sing about it. So that gives me confidence to realize that you have to be somebody, to be yourself.”
“So I went and fought and went through a couple record deals, and what I realized was radio, and rightfully so, they want to keep feeding a younger audience so they have people that listen to it. I think that part of our industry wants to move forward and be progressive and part wants to keep it [traditional]. People think if we go and mix other types of stuff it’s ruining it or it’s going to end something, but it all goes in phases, it all changes. I really had to evolve a lot in my mind as a music fan to understand certain things, and if you sit there and try to [sound] like Johnny Cash, and Waylon and Willie, you’re not going to go anywhere, because that’s what made them so great. They can’t be replicated.”