Dierks Bentley — “Home”

Sam Gazdziak | October 19th, 2011

dierksbentleySongwriters: Dierks Bentley, Brett Beavers and Dan Wilson

Patriotic country songs are a bit of a double-edged sword. While no song is an automatic license to print money, a rah-rah, pro-U.S. anthem is pretty close. Just release a single with “America” in the title, and watch it soar up the charts. Get really lucky, and it may become a staple of July 4th fireworks displays and parades. Imply that the South is somehow better than the North, and it may even get added to the Stone Mountain laser light show for all eternity.

On the other hand, way too many lazily written patriotic songs have gone on to become hits – looking at you, Toby Keith and Rodney Atkins. Much like the “I’m proud to be rural” songs, too many patriotic songs are just piles of images and catchphrases stuck together to the point that they lose all significance. Admittedly, it’s tough to condense the essence of a country with a long history and a diverse culture into a three-minute song. But can the songwriters of America come up with more than just flags, eagles, fallen soldiers and freedom? And no, Bocephus, adding guns and the phrase “don’t tread on me” to the list is not an improvement.

So when a song like “Home” by Dierks Bentley comes around, it deserves credit both for what it doesn’t do and what it does do. It doesn’t rely on the cliches so common in patriotic songs. It doesn’t take a “we Americans are better than you” attitude. Bentley and co-writers Brett Beavers and Dan Wilson instead write about the country’s diversity, the bravery of the first colonists who came across an ocean to live here and the blood that was shed to preserve the country. Placed in this historical context, a reference to dead soldiers becomes something meaningful and emotional and not just another item on a patriotic checklist. More than anything, “Home” sounds like a love song for an old married couple – the past hasn’t been perfect, the future is uncertain, but “this is still the place that we all call home.”

The song builds and builds from its largely acoustic intro, to the point that the climax includes both ringing bells and a U2-esque guitar solo. It’s a far cry from the bluegrass sounds of Bentley’s previous album, Up on the Ridge, but the strong songwriting skills Bentley has displayed throughout his career are plainly evident. It remains to be seen exactly where Bentley’s post-Ridge sound will take him, but he remains one of country music’s most intriguing performers.

Thumbs Up

  1. Devin
    October 19, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    The ‘Stone Mountain Laser Show’ line is fantastic…

  2. Mike Wimmer
    October 19, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    I enjoy this. Like the review said, I;m glad we didnt get yet another chest thumping patriotic song, this song has some heart behind it and is smartly written.

    This makes me a lot more hopeful for Bentley’s next album as well. I was extremely nervous after “Am I The Only One?” came out that Bentley was gonna go totally commercial and just record another “Feel That Fire” album. This gives me hope he will be able to bridge the gap and put out a smartly written, well produced mainstream Country album.

    That’s something that is becoming rarer and rarer it seems.

  3. Becky McBride Wierzbicki
    October 19, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    This song touches the very soul of what is good about America to me. I cannot listen to it without a tear falling..it is incredible and the video just made it even better!

  4. Carrie
    October 19, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    I 100% agree with this review. I love this song for what it isn’t as much as I love it for what it is.

    Today the state of Arizona (his home state) named this the theme song for their Centennial celebration next February.

    Well done, Dierks.

  5. plain_jo
    October 19, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    The most well written patriotic song I have heard in quite some time!

  6. luckyoldsun
    October 20, 2011 at 1:39 am

    Funny, I never bought a Dierks Bentley album until “Up On the Ridge”. I may buy this new one, too. Sometimes it’s nice to hear a patriotic song that’s not “in yer face,” defensive, or aimed at cutting some “enemy” segment of the country down.

  7. Barry Mazor
    October 20, 2011 at 8:47 am

    We used to have patriotic songs on country radio that didn’t have to prove how belligerent and More American Than Thou they (or the listener) could be–things like Waylon Jennings’ “America”. Kind of nice to know that we can now. It’s traditional.

  8. Mike Wimmer
    October 20, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    Luckyoldsun, I would suggest checking out Bentley’s debut album as well. It’s a very good new traditional Country album and the two songs that were hits off it, are probably the weakest songs on the album. His second album was ok, but nothing special and I kinda felt the same way about Long Trip Alone.

    I think he is taking more time with his writing and albums again and that is helping a lot.

  9. Carrie
    October 20, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Yes, his debut is very, very solid. Still wish they would’ve released Wish it Would Break, but …

    If you can get your hand on his independent debut “Don’t Leave me in Love” I’d recommend that, as well. It’s very, very traditional country and was recorded two years before his Capitol debut. It’s actually my husband’s favorite Dierks album. No snazzy production, and his voice wasn’t nearly what it is today, but it’s a great traditional album (if that’s what you’re looking for). The bluegrass cuts on each of his albums are worth checking out, too.


  10. Barry Mazor
    October 21, 2011 at 4:54 am

    Dierk’s singing on that obscure first indie CD shows a lot of influence of…..Lester Flatt.

  11. Jon
    October 21, 2011 at 9:37 am

    Dierk’s singing on that obscure first indie CD shows a lot of influence of…..Lester Flatt.

    Are you, like, for real? I’d be a whole lot more interested in checking it out if so.

  12. Barry Mazor
    October 21, 2011 at 10:36 am

    I’m not kidding, Jon. I don’t want to overstate it, but that’s what I heard there. I think he was learning how to imprint individuality and content in a vocal with an inflection here, a bit of surprise with verbal timing there, an enunciation or pronunciation over there, like many do early on..and the way Lester did all of those things seems to have rubbed off ..Probably not that surprising; I know that Dierks had Flatt & Scruggs CDs in heavy rotation in his own SUV for years. (Saw the discs!)

  13. Carrie
    October 21, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    The songs are on YouTube if you want to check them out… I’m sure you can find a track listing online.

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