Luke Bryan – “Country Man”

Brady Vercher | March 7th, 2008

Luke Bryan Songwriters: Luke Bryan, Galen Griffin, and Patrick Jason Matthews

Luke Bryan’s third single, “Country Man,” goes for adds on March 24. It mindlessly lists anything that could be superficially associated with being a country man and will hopefully give him an advantage in attracting a woman, but despite all that, it’s an infectious little ditty that’s fun for a listen or two with lines like “don’t be a tape player hater girl, we’re groovin’ to Hank.” Beyond that, however, I don’t know who this song is supposed to appeal to on an extended basis and that leads to a larger question looming over Luke Bryan as an artist–is he in danger of becoming pigeonholed?

Sure, it’s early in his career, but with his distinct, nasally twang and the corporate manufactured country boy image, he runs the risk of becoming a caricature of that very image in the same way that Gretchen Wilson is “The Redneck Woman.” The problem with that should be obvious and I don’t think his interpretive skills are strong enough to break out of that box once he’s placed in it. And once he is cornered, radio will become reticent to to play anything that isn’t a redneck/country/frat boy party anthem and the hits will eventually dry up.

So then, why release “Country Man” as a single? He already sent the hit “All My Friends Say” to radio followed by “We Rode In Trucks,” the first of which plays on the party frat boy image and the latter fulfills its country boy duties, but after stalling out in the thirties, he needed another uptempo hit–now, and considering the material on his album, not much else would break the mold and fit the bill.

Thumbs Down

  1. mike
    March 7, 2008 at 9:46 am

    i think you got this wrong. luke’s entire album, “i’ll stay me” is loaded with good tunes. I agree he is staking the country boy niche, but i disagree it is manufactured. the dude grew up in Georgia and his father had a peanut farm. can’t get anymore country than that. people write about what they know, the dude knows being country. at least it comes from the heart and is not being “manufactured” like you say.

    and gretchen is still the real deal too. i think the problem is radio creates niches for artists based on their early music. and then they don’t understand how artists can actually have more than one side to them. makes no sense to the fans…which i guess is why fans are leaving radio. it think radio should be less interested in determining what an artist’s niche is and just let them be them. the fans will tell you if they are ok with that. one of the most successful artists of all time, Jimmy Buffett, never had radio’s support and he did ok.

  2. Brady Vercher
    March 7, 2008 at 10:17 am

    I realize that he grew up in Georgia and that his dad had a peanut farm, but lines like “I can wrestle hogs and gators with my two bare hands” are manufactured, and weaving the theme into everything isn’t simply drawing from what he knows. He’s aware of the image he’s trying to convey and I’d say he even embellishes it, and that’s why I call it manufactured.

    While his album is definitely listenable, I dunno that I’d say it was “loaded” with good tunes.

  3. Corey
    March 7, 2008 at 10:19 am

    I understand and possibly agree with your analysis. I was hoping “We Rode In Trucks” would make it up the charts a little farther because I really dig that song. However, Mike is right about him writing what he knows. After seeing him in concert, you can tell that he is nothing but country. He did a awesome cover of “Money In The Bank” by John Anderson. I think “First Love Song” would have been a better release at this point.

  4. Chris N.
    March 7, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Anything to keep “The Car in Front of Me” off the radio.

  5. Jenna Vercher
    March 7, 2008 at 10:47 am

    I always get him and Lee Brice mixed up. I still don’t know who is who.

  6. Brady Vercher
    March 7, 2008 at 11:03 am

    Corey, I liked “We Rode In Trucks” just fine, but I thought “we rode in trucks” was a weird way to wrap up the message of the song.

    According to Wikipedia, he’s been in Nashville since 2001, which leads me to believe that he knows he doesn’t have the talent to stand out on that alone, so he over emphasizes his country roots.

    Funny that you mention John Anderson, I can’t shake the feeling that John Anderson has done “Over the River,” but I can’t find it anywhere. As for “First Love Song,” I don’t think he’s had enough success to make that one work at radio.

    ——

    Chris, “The Car In Front of Me” was overly mawkish, eh?

  7. Heidi
    March 7, 2008 at 11:13 am

    Maybe I live in a country bubble (actually, that’s a fact not a maybe) but the fact that this song name checked “Hoopastank” made it loose big points with me. I had to google them to find out what the heck he was talking about. Although I will say, I did love the next line: “tape player hater”.

    As for your comments about a “corporate manufactured country boy image” I have to agree. I’ve been listeneing to this cd non-stop for the past week. It took me that long to actually like it. I don’t claim to be a particularly demanding consumer when it comes to lyrics or melody but even I questioned if this cd was the best way to launch a career. The song themes and sound are all too common in country music today and don’t really stand out (Jenna’s comment about getting Luke and Lee Brice confused is a good example).

    So, as much as I would like to disagree, especially since I have come to like the record, I have to agree with your whole review. Let’s hope we’re proven wrong in the future.

    And for the record, my favourite tracks are “I’ll Stay Me” and “All My Friends Say”, mostly because they get stuck in my head the most.

  8. Chris N.
    March 7, 2008 at 11:21 am

    @Jenna: You’re not alone.

  9. hairandtoenails
    March 7, 2008 at 11:22 am

    I agree Luke Bryan has to be careful about being pigeonholed, but his first problem is to get recognized at all. I know he’s had some radio hits, but I’m not sure he really stands out enough to get recognized.

  10. mike
    March 7, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    manufactured is putting Carrie Underwood in dark makeup and having her beat the heck out of a truck with a baseball bat. not saying that song is not good, just saying if you are worried about “manufactured lyrics” look no further than the most spun CW artist out there today, Ms. Underwood.

    a dude form Georgia talking about wrestling hogs is much more believable and real to me. i guess i just like music from the heart that means something more than stuff that is not believable. I think Luke has some staying power. We’ll see though.

  11. Casey
    March 7, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    I agree that as an artist Luke Bryan has to be careful about where his image goes. That said, I actually love how over-the-top and manufactured this song is because it is, at its heart, a 3-minute pick-up line. It couldn’t be anything less than that if it was going to work, in my opinion.

    He can be inspired by his life in the country but not have it permeate every song in every possible way, though, which I think will be the struggle he faces in the future.

    (I hope that made sense…)

  12. CRAIG R.
    March 7, 2008 at 7:28 pm

    I may be alone in this thought but I believe that Luke Bryan, Rodney Atkins,Eric Church, Jason Aldean, Trent Willimon(sp), Craig Morgan and Jake Owen are all image and no substance. They like being dirty and manly. You can smell the sweat and see the dirty white socks they wear. They are as country as a Cracker Barrel store and less complex. They look good, they sound ok , and they are selling a product because they believe that the average country music listener lacks any depth. They are handsome, but not pretty. They have made it this far because of good marketing. And they have waited too long to be famous. They won’t go down easy. A sad point is that if they only wrote about their real lives their talent might expand. Also if one more ” country” boy tells me that city people are crap- I am a city dweller and I have still have values and a sense of worth. I am also a country music buyer- who thinks these guys are hot but I wouldn’t buy their music because they are always insuling me to prove their worth.

  13. Matt B.
    March 7, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    Craig,

    I wouldn’t put Craig Morgan or Rodney Atkins on that list. Both DO write about their own lives. Have you listened to “Watching You?” and while Rodeny didn’t write “If You’re Goin’ Through Hell” he surely lived the song while waiting for Curb to release a record on him (He’s been signed to the label since the mid 1990s). The man persevered. Morgan had a label before Broken Bow and worked very hard to be where he is (which is why he’s now label shopping again on his ‘own terms’). These two guys don’t deserve to be on your list. They’re not ‘manufactured.’

  14. hairandtoenails
    March 7, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    I second Craig R.s points.

  15. Lynn
    March 7, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    I don’t know about those on Craig R.’s list being all image and no substance, but while I recognize all of those names, I can’t attribute a single song to any of them. They are representative of the revolving, interchangeable male-kick that country radio seems to be on. None of them stick out for me at all. I think that’s why a female that strikes a chord, really strikes a chord – because they are different. The only distinctive males on the radio these days are the old favourites (who have probably stuck around because they do have their own style – for better or worse) – Alan Jackson, George Strait, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney and Toby Keith.

    So anyway…Luke Bryan who? Why should I care? It will be some new interchangeable guy next week…and this song stinks, plain and simple.

    Why are they afraid of putting good artists and songs on the radio? argh! (I heard one the other day that I swear was one long car dealership jingle. I kept waiting for…”Here at Dean’s Ford we sell..”)

  16. Stephen H.
    March 8, 2008 at 1:02 am

    Um … “Mercury Blues” by Alan Jackson, Lynn? Is that what you’re referring to?

  17. Corey
    March 8, 2008 at 10:07 am

    Listen to Eric Church’s CD and I think you will realize that there is some depth there. None of those listed come off as being about image, or inauthentic, at least to me. I do think that Nashville has created a specific image that it wants its young males to portray and the first goal is to get that record deal. But I wouldnt’ cast all of them off just yet.

  18. Lucas
    March 9, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Luke Bryan’s songs are fun in my opinion. I like his sound. I think he might end up suffering from a bit of Craig-Morgan-Syndrome though – people not being able to recognize who sings a song they enjoy. Which I full-heartedly blame on promotion.

    Many of the voices on country radio are indistinguishable, I think we can all agree with that.

    Craig – I agree with the city argument, it’s just ridiculous nonsense. I can’t stand when people act like somebody from a city can’t have any sense of country music. I’m from ND in a town of 50,000 (more like 35,000 if you subtract the college and surrounding area) and yes, we fish, go play in the mud, catch frogs, enjoy the outdoors here, spend a lot of time outside of town, etc. – but you can’t tell me that gives me any more values than somebody from a big city. They are missing a HUGE market insulting cities. Those cities in the heartland more than likely make up one of the biggest chunks of country CD sales. Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Green Bay, St. Louis, Dallas, Austin, Omaha, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, the list goes on – those places all have serious country cd sales.

    I would like to see a bit more depth from Craig Morgan and Luke Bryan – not so much as far as the music goes, because I think they provide a good time – but just from a personal view. Put some stuff out there showing a different side to them rather than just hanging out on the farm.

  19. todd
    March 11, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    I really like Luke’s CD and “We Rode In Trucks” was one of my favorite songs of last year.I agree that Luke is in danger of being pigeonholed and even though I like “Country Man” allright I do have serious questions about why this is the new single.

  20. Stacie
    April 14, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    I don’t think you are giving Luke enough credit. He wrote Country Man before he got his recording deal. I am from Georgia and sure he spins it a little, but alot of what he says is what goes on around here. He has been playing and paying his dues for quite awhile now. He certainly has more of an older country sound but what’s wrong with that? I think we have to many people on the charts getting attention just because of American Idol. (I’m not talking about CW) Go check Luke out in person he is great and is geniunely a nice guy.

  21. Meagan May
    April 14, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    I can not believe this review. If you were any kind of critic at all

  22. Meagan May
    April 14, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    IN RESPONCE TO…..”Alan Jackson, George Strait, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney and Toby Keith.”

    You seriously can not put Luke Bryan in the same category as Kenny Chesney. Kenny Chesney is TOTALLY Manufactured.

    Luke may be going on tour with him…..but you have to take EVERY oppertunity!!!

    Oh and Luke has been going at this “Counrty Thing” a Lot longer than any of you know. He lost his brother!! Decided to go to college and have a career. BUT HIS ROOTS went back to beig a country singer AND songwriter. He has been around for a lONG time. just none of you have taken the time to sit and listen!!! THIS IS LUKE BRYAN…. “I’LL STAY ME” THAT IS WHO HE IS!!! DEAL WITH IT!!! HE has FANS!!! I will bet you after this year he WILL be a total HIT!!! just wait until these people see him live…..HE IS A AWESOME!!

  23. Tori
    April 14, 2008 at 11:52 pm

    I just want to add a few little thoughts…1) Everyone has a right to their opinion, but it’s just that “AN OPINION” it’s not a fact…so that’s life. 2) Luke Bryan is one of the most amazing people I have ever met…he makes all other meet and greets with any other artists no fun, because he is so genuine and so happy to greet the fans. Also, you have to see him perform live…you can’t help but enjoy the party. I can’t say enough good things about him and I still listen to his CD all the time…his music is the real deal…he has written many songs, for himself and other country artists.

    Jenna: You said you can’t tell the difference between Luke and Lee Brice?!?!? I have to say…LUKE is a lot better looking, but if we are just going by music. Luke has a deep southern drawl, while Lee doesn’t have that quality and just screams a lot of his lyrics out.

    I created a Luke Bryan fan site, because I can’t get enough of him…he’s the best! I have nothing but respect for him as an artist and a person…the world would be a much better place if we had more people around that had Luke’s positive attitude and zest for life…and his “I’ll Stay Me” album is a very close reflection of his attitude and also of his pre-capital records music. Just take the time to get to know Luke and you will see the greatness that so many others enjoy.

    All my best!

    Tori

  24. Stacie
    April 15, 2008 at 9:12 am

    You go Megan and Tori. Some people just don’t get it. At least he has paid his dues and worked the music circuit. I hate that he gets put out of the spotlight because of past American Idol contenders. I truly believe he has what it takes to make it. We can say we appreciated his greatness all along.

  25. Brody Vercher
    April 15, 2008 at 9:18 am

    Ra ra ree, kick ‘em in the knee, ra ra rass, kick ‘em in the…other knee. Gooooooo Luke Bryan!!1!

  26. Steph
    May 5, 2008 at 7:42 pm

    Can’t you people just leave each other alone. It’s a good song for some people other might think different. Let it go!! Drop it! Everyone has a different opinion. Let the people who like this song enjoy it. If you don’t like it then don’t listen to it. Don’t ruin it for everyone else. He’s a good singer. He will become better as he gets older and has more experience. LEAVE LUKE ALONE!!!

  27. tyler
    May 8, 2008 at 8:30 pm

    ok, this one is for you lynn, you really think that toby keith and kenny chesney aren’t manufactured?? they are all corporate, love those cut off sleves and red sox hats kenny, and toby keith putting out good music such as, who’s your Daddy? and maintenance man? get real! at least luke, trent willmon, and eric church write their own music. they are well written and are a good listen without having to have a dolled up, surgery enhanced girl in the video to sell, get off of top 40 country radio and listen to good artists who write their own music and have actual talent, open your ears and off top 40 country radio!

  28. Lynn
    May 9, 2008 at 8:26 am

    Tyler – I didn’t say I was a fan of Kenny and Toby. I just said that they are distinctive in that they have managed over time – whether good or bad – to develop radio and stage personalities. Do I think Kenny’s a great singer of songs? No. Do I like his tropical shtick? No. Do I think Toby is a genuine guy? No. Heck, I’ve listened to Maintenance Man and Who’s Your Daddy! But they have managed to distinguish themselves, which is not something I can say for a lot of new men on the radio. They all sound the same to me. Same voice, same song. They all kind of look the same these days too! In recent years I think only Josh Turner has managed to stand out. His voice is instantly recognizable and he does his own thing. Take it for what it’s worth.

  29. Bobby
    July 8, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    OMG, Brady looked at Wikipedia. Guess who wrote the Wikipedia article on Luke Bryan? That’s right, I did. Nobody else wanted to write one for him, not even while “All My Friends Say” was inching into the Top 10.

    Seriously, I think that this song is okay but not stand out material. I think that it’s somewhat devoid of personality, but not blatantly anonymous. It’s definitely helped along by Luke’s strong voice, though I can see that iPod line getting dated a few years from now. (Not nearly as dated as the Y2K reference in “Meanwhile Back at the Ranch” by the Clark Family Experience, however.)

  30. Nancy
    July 30, 2008 at 9:53 am

    It sounds like Luke Bryan is having some fun with his song Country Man. I think it has a great beat and he has a very good voice. Besides that, the words are rather fun to listen to. Why dissect the darn thing…just have fun with it. Thanks Luke for sharing your talent.

  31. Robert
    September 25, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    KISS MY COUNTRY ASS!!! ALL OF THESE PEOPLE LIKE LUKE BRYAN AND RODNEY ATKINS ARE GREAT!!! I’M FROM TENNESSEE AND TRUST ME I KNOW WHAT COUNTRY IS AND I CAN TELL YOU IT IS NOT RASCALL FLATTS, KEITH URBAN, OR DARIUS RUCKER!!!

  32. Collin
    May 20, 2009 at 6:37 pm

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I took this song to be satire, especially after seeing the music video. Do you honestly think he believes that his camouflage seats keep people from seeing his Jeep? He’s poking fun at the idea of what it means to be a country man, and he accomplishes it quite well. So I reject your thumbs down and give it a thumbs up.

  33. Brady Vercher
    May 20, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    Satire in what way? If anything, it’s embracing a poorly executed caricature. And you were able to glean meaning from that video?

  34. leeRoy
    June 14, 2009 at 12:59 am

    yall got it all wrong.boys from georgia an went to the biggest party school in the US so thats why most of his songs are the party country type.and even tho his songs dont make it number one like rascall flatts-that dont mean its not bein blarred down the dirt roads where i come from all day.we like the real country songs down here an not the crybaby crap goin on in the city.YEEHAW

  35. momoffour
    October 23, 2009 at 8:13 am

    You guys who are putting Luke down are crazy! I grew up with Luke, and he is the real deal! He is the same person today as he was in high school, genuine, down to earth, and yes, definitely Country!! He writes almost all of his own songs and has for as long as I can remember. He is full of talent, and will go very far. So to all of you “writers” who have nothing better to do than to smash down someone’s dreams and talents, Luke is the genuine real deal and his songs will continue to get better and better as he grows as an artist. I’m sure your first review you wrote was not your best (and obviously you still need lots of work because your “thumbs down” review on Luke’s album totally sucks)! GO LUKE!!! The Real Deal.

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