Darius Rucker – “Come Back Song”

Blake Boldt | July 9th, 2010

Darius RuckerLast November, Darius Rucker made history when he received the CMA Award for New Artist of the Year, the first win for a black artist since Charley Pride’s three victories in the early 1970s.

Such a big achievement does carry a small asterisk. As frontman of ’90s pop-rock behemoth Hootie & the Blowfish, Rucker won a pair of Grammys as part of a hot streak that ended sixteen million albums later.

In an act of deference to the current country marketplace, he shelved the hard-country shuffles and mournful ballads that he planned to record in favor of clean, contemporary sounds more suited for endless radio play. Learn to Live, his platinum-selling solo debut, spawned four hit singles and set up Rucker as one of the hot properties in Nashville. The introduction to his second full-length release, due later this year, suggests he’ll likely savor another milestone or two.

“Come Back Song” is a custom-made Music Row production that’s as ordinary as the songs that surround it on the airwaves. Rucker plays the familiar role of a mildly-depressed man whose foolish ways have turned off his sweetheart. This lost romance is causing him such distress that he spills out his heart in a sing-along ditty. “Song” is a hollow-feeling effort with a set of lyrics that strain to be clever: “You’re on the feel good side of leaving/And I’m the backside of a mule.”

As usual, Rucker delivers an effortless performance that solidifies his place as one of the genre’s finest singers. His sense of phrasing is impeccable, and his ragged vocals convey a rich emotion that few voices can match. The laidback, largely-acoustic groove of “Song” is cool, appealing background noise as we sweat out the dog days of summer. But once Rucker sings his last “na-na”‘s at the end, this weightless track has barely made a dent in your memory.

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  1. WAYNOE
    July 9, 2010 at 7:17 am

    No disagreement on this review (for a change). However, most of his sings to me have been fairly lightweight and mainstream Nashville Friendly.

  2. Fizz
    July 9, 2010 at 9:07 am

    So, Mr. Rucker set aside the songs he WANTED to record in favor of stuff that would get played on the radio? SELLOUT!

  3. Thomas
    July 9, 2010 at 9:07 am

    …a hot contestant for the cmt-elevator music awards.

  4. Craig R.
    July 9, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    The saddest thing about Darius Rucker is that he is only person of color in mainsteam country music in the 21st century. As a black man who listens to country music as though it was my faith, I have very little faith that country music will ever grow up. Maybe Rucker’s true gift to country music is that he has opened a door that was closed for a long time.

    In the end that is a large group of people like me who listen and love country, and are always a little embarrased by its lack of diversity.

    As for the song- it is safe, boring, and I forgot it after I heard it which means it will be a number one hit. Even sadder.

  5. WAYNOE
    July 9, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Craig,

    Your last statement is incredibly correct. I love how you phrased it.

    As with your other comment, with few exceptions however, one could say the inverse about rap music.

    I think one deterrent to persons of color making it in country music is the “overall” make-up of the audience. There are probably a lot more people of color that listens to country music than one realizes, but having said that, the numbers percentage-wise would still be small. A casual review of country audiences at concerts will verify this. It’s neither right or wrong. Just the demographic facts.

    As I said, the same thing could be said of rap in the inverse. Yes there are more whites that listen than one might realize, but not predominantly.

    I do think that Darius has represented himself well but his material needs grown up more so than the audience he sings to.

  6. Rick
    July 9, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Blake wrote: “But once Rucker sings his last “na-na”’s at the end, this weightless track has barely made a dent in your memory.” Just as with Billy Currington’s latest single, this song is perfectly targeted at AirHead Country Radio. Tasty little pieces of sonic cotton candy are what radio wants what and wise artists give them.

    Craig R. said: “In the end that is a large group of people like me who listen and love country, and are always a little embarrased by its lack of diversity.” Craig, I would venture that there are not a huge number of gay black men who are country music fans, so the radio stations and Nashville labels aren’t motivated to cater to such a tiny demographic segment. Personally I wish Rhonda Towns had a higher profile and that Rissi Palmer had gotten more radio airplay. I can guess you found Chely Wright’s “coming out” to your liking…

  7. Ben Foster
    July 9, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    It’s a shame that Darius has dumbed down his music so much in order for it to be acceptable to radio. I didn like the “backside of a mule” line, but it really is the only halfway clever line in the song.

    While “Come Back Song” is a pleasant enough track to make one say “Oh, this is nice” while it’s playing on the radio,” it just doesn’t make much of an impression beyond that.

  8. Fizz
    July 9, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Craig R., this may be a loaded question, but as a black man, do you find Rucker’s knuckling under to the Nashville machine to get airplay rather than releasing the songs he actually wants to sing … a little bit like slavery? Not that there aren’t tons of white country artists doing the same thing, but the idea popped into my head … it’d make a great political cartoon: Rucker with guitar in hand and a yoke around his neck.

  9. Jon
    July 9, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    *facepalm*

  10. luckyoldsun
    July 9, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    I don’t care for Darius Rucker’s music. I didn’t think much of it anyway, but when I heard his last CD and listened to where he ripped off the Guy Clark/Kathy Mattea song about “You have to dance like nobody’s watching,” he really lost me.

    I’m sure there are a lot of blacks out there who would make some good country records if given the chance. One of my favorite singers from a few decades back is Stoney Edwards, who should have been a lot bigger than he was.

  11. Kyle
    July 9, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    What an awful hook. Like, lazy to the point it’s almost insulting to the listener. I mean, “You left me, I’m sad, so this is my please come back song” – that’s what you say when you’re brainstorming for a hook, not what you ACTUALLY put in this chorus! Sheesh.

    Darius has firmly entrenched himself as a country mainstay, but I wish he’d use some outside songs. At least write something with a littttle more edge and pain once in a while, maybe?

  12. Stormy
    July 9, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    You mean like this:
    She sits alone by a lampost
    trying to find a thought that’s escaped her mind
    She says Dad’s the one I love the most
    but Stipe’s not far behind

    She never lets me in
    only tells me where she’s been
    when she’s had too much to drink
    I say that I don’t care, I just run my hands
    through her dark hair then I pray to God
    you gotta help me fly away

    And just…
    Let her cry..if the tears fall down like rain
    Let her sing…if it eases all her pain
    Let her go…let her walk right out on me
    And if the sun comes up tomorrow
    Let her be…let her be.

    This morning I woke up alone
    found a note standin’ by the phone
    saying baby, maybe I’ll be back some day
    I wanted to look for you
    You walked in I didn’t know just what I should do
    so I sat back down and had a beer
    and felt sorry for myself.

    Sayin’…
    Let her cry…if the tears fall down like rain
    Let her sing…if it eases all her pain
    Let her go…let her walk right out on me
    And if the sun comes up tomorrow
    Let her be…let her be.

    Let her cry…if the tears fall down like rain
    Let her sing…if it eases all her pain
    Let her go…let her walk right out on me
    And if the sun comes up tomorrow
    Let her be…awww…

    Last night I tried to leave
    cried so much I could not believe
    she was the same girl I fell in love
    with long ago
    She went in the back to get high
    I sat down on my couch and cried
    yellin’ “Oh mama, please help me!
    Won’t you hold my hand?”

    And
    Let her cry…if the tears fall down like rain
    Let her sing…if it eases all her pain
    Let her go…let her walk right out on me
    And if the sun comes up tomorrow
    Let her be…let her be.

    Let her cry…if the tears fall down like rain
    Let her sing…if it eases all her pain
    Let her go…let her walk right out on me
    And if the sun comes up tomorrow
    Let her be…let her be.

  13. Chris N.
    July 9, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    *facepalm*

    Nothing is like slavery. Certainly no enterprise that earns one a lot of money.

  14. Paul W Dennis
    July 9, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    This song is a sideways thumb – I am sure that Rucker is capable of much more but whether or not his producers and/or radio programmers will allow him to deliver it is another matter

  15. Fizz
    July 9, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    Again, not literally, even-up, one-for-one comparing Rucker’s sellout-ness to slavery. It just occurred to me, he’s a black guy putting hiw own artistic wants aside for the big bossman in a lily-white industry.

  16. ...
    July 10, 2010 at 5:31 am

    “I don’t care for Darius Rucker’s music. I didn’t think much of it anyway, but when I heard his last CD and listened to where he ripped off the Guy Clark/Kathy Mattea song about “You have to dance like nobody’s watching,” he really lost me.”

    that’s not exactly a new or novel phrase, so it’s not as if clark/mattea came up with the idea originally.

  17. DJ
    July 10, 2010 at 9:02 am

    The only reason I even clicked on this article is because it had Darius’ name in it and I was hoping to have new, educational information to read about his new single–especially now that Jim is no longer the primary reviewer on this website. Instead, I read a bunch of negative (as always on this site) comments and a horrible review from someone that I don’t even count as a tastemaker in the format. With this lack of research or information (who were the songwriters, what’s the history behind the lyrics, did Frank Rogers produce this, too?), how do you expect the readers to learn anything other than not to come to you for information?

    I’m highly disappointed at the lack of thought that went into this article – yes, we know he’s black, and I’m pretty sure he’s aware. That doesn’t mean his messaging and approach should be any different from the other top artists in the format.

    I enjoy the song and it takes my mind off daily negativities that exist, like this site. If someone comments back to my entry, I’m sorry to say I will not be responding because I’m going to turn on the radio and hope “Come Back Song” comes on my station so I can turn it up and sing along.

  18. Noeller
    July 10, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    I really REALLY like Darius, lemme say that right off the hop. I was a HUGE fan of Hootie back in the day, and truly believe that DRs love and respect for Country music and its history are genuine.

    With that said, this is one of the worst written songs I’ve heard in a long time, and that’s really saying something, ’cause terrible songs come across my desk on a daily basis.

    I’ve been listening to Dierks’ new project pretty much exclusively, lately, so to hear this……:S…..ugh.

  19. Fizz
    July 10, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Don’t believe it: DJ’s going to go cry because the reviewer didn’t like his new favorite song.

  20. Stormy
    July 10, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    and truly believe that DRs love and respect for Country music and its history are genuine.

    I would believe it a lot more if he actually showed it to me instead of just talking about it a lot.

  21. Noeller
    July 10, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    @Stormy – there were signs of it on the “Learn To Live” project, though not always in spades, so to speak. It was an enjoyable and highly listenable, if not always the deepest, album. Had good writing and good production, and solid hooks on most tracks.

    This new one, though…..yikes.

  22. Chris N.
    July 10, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    This format has tastemakers?

  23. JB
    July 10, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    I’m not completely familiar with this site but, there seems to be alot of people bagging on the writing of this song. Right or wrong, fair or not, I wonder how many of those with the negative have actually written a song? Then, how many of those have actually had at least one recorded? Nevermind that Rucker has done it many times over with both his solo stuff and the blowfish albums. Hello pot, meet kettle. How’s that glass house you’re living in?

    If you have followed Rucker at all from the blowfish to now you know that you’re aren’t going to get terribly deep, emotional, carry-a-message songs. Light, take your cares away “jams” are exactly what he excels at. The criticism, again, right or wrong, fair or not, I think it’s misguided in this case.

    Just my .02

  24. Stormy
    July 10, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    JB: The problem is that none of us are trying to get Darius Rucker to buy OUR music.

  25. Chris N.
    July 10, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Were you “completely familiar with this site,” you would know that the argument that no one except a hit songwriter has the right to critique a song is one that has been demolished countless times.

  26. Noeller
    July 10, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Yep – while I occasionally do some songwriting, I don’t consider myself accomplished, but you can be damn sure most regular posters on here are smart and savvy enough to know the difference between a well written song and a poorly written one.

  27. Fizz
    July 11, 2010 at 12:18 am

    “How many hits have YOU written?” “So, when’s YOUR next gig?” “Let’s hear YOU play a tune!” All variations of the sme specious, eunuchs-in-a-harem argument.

  28. Noeller
    July 11, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    lmao @Eunuchs-in-a-harem……..outstanding. That one’s gonna be with me for awhile.

  29. Stephen H.
    July 11, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    Heard it for the first time today … sounds like it combined the worst parts, thematically, of “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It” and “Just Might Have Her Radio On”. Very unnotable, which is too bad because I liked three of his first four singles (excluding “History in the Making”).

  30. Nicolas
    July 12, 2010 at 12:04 am

    I think this song is quite dull and I dislike the lyrics

    Vocally he does alright and the steel guitar is nice, but overall this single is def a thumbs down

    So far I only like his debut single… the rest I can live without

  31. Jennifer
    July 13, 2010 at 7:17 am

    This is a fantastic song! Darius Rucker is the finest male country singer in the world today – it is not even close.

  32. Ryan Cockrell
    August 21, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Look how Darius and Hootie are giving back:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDHcZcUx0Rs

  33. Regina George
    September 1, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    this song is a joke. It’s completely completely playing it safe, as it most of Darius’s album. Aside from, “dont think i don’t think about it.” Darius is a great vocalist, and that goes without saying but this song is so stupid. so stupid. The lyrics are boringly simple, and the verse is a failed attempt at being clever. BACK SIDE OF A MULE? that’s not amusing or witty, it’s just lame and forced. I heard Reba’s “Turn on the radio” and this in the same day, both as new hot releases. I laughed out loud. I’m going to watch these two ride to number one, side by side on a catchy beat and then I’m probably going to cry.

  34. victoria
    September 9, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    okay, listen here this is a good song ! i would like to see some of you people get of you lazy minimum wage tail and write a song and make a song ! so before you talk crap about some one you don’t even know, STOP and THINK! maybe if some of you had a brain you wouldn’t have wrote what you did! and yeah he’s black ? boo-freaking-who! he had the nerve to do something anyone else would be to scared to do! so get over it!!! -love victoria(:

  35. Eric
    October 4, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    I disagree with the poor reviews here. I think this song was very creative maybe not in the storyline but in the instrumentation and arrangement. It sounds like nothing else on country radio today while Darius’s “Don’t Think I Don’t Think About Her” could have been sung by some others. “Alright” could have been my Kenny Chesney. But his voice is completely unique here and I cannot imagine this song being sung by anyone. I really like the upbeat melody though the carefree style of the video (with beautiful South Carolina scenery) doesn’t match the story. He lost his girl and is lonely but is dancing in the street and the music is upbeat sounding. It was the same thing with “This Ain’t My Truck” by Rhett Akins.

  36. VoiceOfReason
    November 13, 2010 at 4:43 am

    Jebus guy’s give the man a break he’s doing something very brave.. he’s a black man making his mark in the country world and he has been well welcomed by the country community I say good job to that. He is putting out good music and the fan base and radio play is showing granted the PR could be a hell of alot stronger.

  37. Stormy
    November 13, 2010 at 7:42 am

    Please, he’s just another washed up rocker who couldn’t hack it anymore so he came to country.

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