Song Review – Granger Smith’s “Backroad Song”
Not many outside of the Texas scene had ever even heard of Granger Smith, let alone Earl Dibbles Jr. at the time, but we all got a big kick out of the “Country Boy Song” to the tune of it tallying nearly 10 million views on YouTube—a tall order from a totally independent artist from Texas. But before the enthusiasm for the song and video had trailed off, Granger Smith released a single under his proper name called “We Do It In A Field” that felt not that far flung from the very music we thought Earl Dibbles was lampooning with “Country Boy Song.” So what was it? Was the “Country Boy Song” really a smart artistic statement delivered in parody form, or just a funny song, plain and simple, and Granger Smith was just another country artist willing to chase trends for commercial acceptance?
READ: The Curious Case of Granger Smith & Earl Dibbles Jr.
Granger recently released a new single called “Backroad Song” ahead of the arrival of a new EP called 4X4 on May 4th, and if this song had been released back in 2012, it still would have been awful, behind the times, and the perfect song to be waylaid by the commentary of Earl Dibbles’ “Country Boy Song”—if in fact that was the song’s goal.
But the simple fact is that it wasn’t the goal. It wasn’t that we were duped by Earl Dibbles Jr. as much as we read into the song what we wanted, and the song itself facilitated this, which is a sign of good art. And it isn’t like Granger didn’t have some really good songs earlier in his career that you could point back at as signs of character. But he may be revealing himself as just as much of the problem with modern day country as any character Nashville can present.
“Backroad Song” is pretty terrible, and is terrible in this sort of embarrassingly behind-the-times way that just makes you want to cringe. The lyrics are so stereotypical Bro-Country/laundry list, the EDM/hip-hop beat that begins the song is so 2013, and Granger’s vocals feel lifeless and Auto-Tuned. The song works almost like a mirror image of Florida Georgia Line’s “Cruise” only emanating from Texas instead of Nashville.
If I was standing in a room full of Granger Smith fans on one side, and Luke Bryan fans on the other, I feel pretty confident which side I would drift to, and Granger seems like a nice guy who’s involved in charity and treats his fans well and does his part of as a member of the Texas scene. But the nature of “scenes” is for fans and other artists to look the other way when something unsavory crops up. Basically a scene is a level of support that allows for some wiggle room based on friendship, and even though this can be lucrative for artists in the short term, in the long term it tends to erect a low ceiling over the success of music careers. The Texas scene is special in the fact that it may be one of the biggest music scenes in all of music this side of heavy metal, and does have the ability to launch artists into higher regions. But that collusive nature that scenes can harbor remains present in the Texas scene as much as any.
Earl Dibbles Jr. could kill off Granger Smith and his career might be the better for it, but it appears Granger still sees value in carrying on his own name as to not overexpose the Earl Dibbles bit, and to keep some real life credibility tied to his music. But it’s just unfortunate that Granger’s new music couldn’t work more in concert with the Earl Dibbles concept, and that it couldn’t be more likable. Granger is never going to be a huge mainstream country star, so why continue to try when he already has a sustainable career and he could be the lovable, dual-personality country artist that makes you laugh and cry in the course of one concert? Instead “Backroad Song” presents just another bro up there belting out countryisms that you have to sit through before Earl Dibbles Jr. makes his appearance.
Two guns down.
April 14, 2015 @ 10:20 am
Been diehard red dirt / texas / Americana fan for several years now and always have heard of Granger but just never listened to him other than previewing a song or two on iTunes , which I never bought. Just didn’t appeal to me that much. Here lately seems like the stuff I hear from him is ” bro “. Makes you wonder if he had the opportunity to get on stage and shotgun beer with the likes of FGL he probably would. Or maybe not. Just out of curiosity, anybody know much about his older stuff? A lot of substance or just fluff? Never checked out the older stuff.
April 14, 2015 @ 12:03 pm
i can’t say I’m well-versed in Granger’s career, but I’ve heard some of his early stuff here and there and there’s some decent songs.
April 14, 2015 @ 7:48 pm
Thanks for the response Trigg. I wonder if I’m the only one who has friends on Facebook that follow and re-post Earl Dibbles Jr. quotes all the time but know that they have no clue who Granger Smith even is haha.
April 15, 2015 @ 5:24 am
Don’t listen to the radio is a pretty great song by granger.
May 27, 2015 @ 2:02 pm
follow up”¦.just found a takamine santa fe (TSF) for sale on Ebay that is Granger Smith’s guitar. Either he has upgraded his axe or he is done or hell, who needs a guitar when you can use auto-tune over a mechanical back beat? I did not know who he was so I looked him up on SCM. FYI…
January 23, 2016 @ 12:23 am
This fucking song sucks. This guy is a fucking idiot. Yeeaa Yea.. Shut the fuck up.
April 14, 2015 @ 10:22 am
Is there a name randomizer for these bro country D-bags? Pull the wheel and “Granger Smith” comes up?
April 14, 2015 @ 11:22 am
No but they do use a big spinning wheel to write their songs. trouble is it only has five options: beer, trucks, hey girl, dirt road, and party.
April 14, 2015 @ 12:31 pm
wanna party with a beer in my truck on the dirt road
before we head out to Cali
(now the chant:) whoa oh oh, oh oh, way oh
(now 10 electric guitars cranked to 10)
April 14, 2015 @ 1:58 pm
Dammit, you just charted with that…
April 15, 2015 @ 5:05 am
Topemhat runs Sodor with an iron fist.
April 15, 2015 @ 8:46 am
I’m an adult railfanner, so the classic Reverend Audry’s “Railway Series” based on true railroad events still fascinate me, but this new Thomas and Friends stuff just doesn’t do it, although it probably does appeal to the same people who like Bro-Country.
April 14, 2015 @ 2:39 pm
dear Sir Topemhat: I think you make enough money managing your magic railroad, please do not record that song
April 15, 2015 @ 8:49 pm
No idea. Growing up in Alabama, I met some Dave’s, Johns, a couple of Franks etc. never met someone with the name “Granger”. That’s a new one.
April 14, 2015 @ 10:24 am
Saw him at the Longhorn Jam on UTs campus a few years back opening for legit red dirt guys. His music seemed very out of place and just waiting to make the break to the nashville type. This was a long time coming.
April 14, 2015 @ 10:24 am
I’ve said it before and will say it again: between Earl Dibbles, Jr. and Granger Smith, I still haven’t figured out who’s making fun of whom. I suppose he’s a nice enough guy, as you pointed out, but then so’s Sam Hunt, from what I’ve heard. Not a fan and never have been.
April 14, 2015 @ 10:32 am
I’ll give him credit for Letters to London, but otherwise most of his music is forgettable.
April 14, 2015 @ 10:54 am
I’m sorry you have to listen to all these earaches.
April 14, 2015 @ 10:55 am
A short lesson in ” Labelspeak ”
LABEL : You wrote a good song but we’re looking for something fresh .
TRANSLATION : We need a whole bunch more songs like the ones on the radio.
LABEL: Well …yeah…that Chris Stapleton sure IS a …a …great songwriter .
TRANSLATION . Hmmm …how can we ‘fix’ that ?
LABEL : Yeah …we love all the veteran guys …Dwight , AJ , George Strait , .
TRANSLATION : If you aren’t on the radio you don’t exist .
LABEL : We’re looking for GREAT material to launch a brand new 17 year old artist TRANSLATION : We want you to co-write with a brand new 17 year old artist who has never written professionally.
LABEL : Miranda needs mature material to reflect who he she is as female vocalist of the year.
TRANSLATION : Little Red Wagon would be perfect . BTW …Miranda who ?
April 14, 2015 @ 10:58 am
“We”™re looking for GREAT material to launch a brand new 17 year old artist”
This would be great, if the material were any good. You might disagree with this, of course, but the last time a 17-year-old gained fame with solid material in country music was in 2006-2007…
April 14, 2015 @ 12:00 pm
Who was that?
April 14, 2015 @ 2:41 pm
Hint: it’s one of the Britney Spears wannabes; Miley, Taylor, Luke or Cole.
April 14, 2015 @ 10:37 pm
Can’t think of a single Britney Spears song that can in any way be construed as country.
April 15, 2015 @ 4:48 am
can you think of a single Cole Swindell song that can in any way be construed as country? (i dare not say Luke or Taylor because the case could be made that “Do I” and “Our song” were fairly country.)
April 15, 2015 @ 12:40 pm
Nope, you win on that one 😉
April 14, 2015 @ 5:27 pm
I was asking myself the same damn thing.
April 14, 2015 @ 11:05 am
Holy crap, that’s bad.
April 14, 2015 @ 11:25 am
You hit it on the head. I remember back in 2009-10 when I discovered some of his early stuff. I thought it was quite good. It had some decent subject matter and didn’t feel out of place compared to other texas country artists (It always reminded me of the stuff Kyle Park was doing at the time). I saw Granger live a year or so ago and just didn’t get it. All of the older music has been erased from is career it seems and has been replaced with this forced “country” stuff.
April 14, 2015 @ 11:28 am
Good god is music really getting worse? Can you please do a throwback day or something to remind us how good country music use to be. Like on this day back when…George strait was on Hee Haw. I can’t hardly take this junk anymore.
April 15, 2015 @ 11:38 am
No Justin, country music isn’t getting worse, this isn’t country music.
April 14, 2015 @ 11:30 am
This guys sucks and he trying too hard. How stupid is guy for having more than one stage personalities when his music for the most is still unheard. I don’t care if he is “Earl” or “Grainger” I will never know any of his music. I know I spelled his name incorrectly.
April 14, 2015 @ 11:50 am
I found this relatively pleasant and mildly catchy, but thoroughly generic and bland — absolutely nothing special about it and nothing to say. :\ Shame, too, as I liked his Earl Dibbles persona; at least that showed some personality, even if it was just a put-on.
April 14, 2015 @ 11:53 am
He has the same mentality as someone like jake owen where they agree modern country music is spitting out the same dribble it has been for like 4 years and something needs to change. But they won’t be the ones to change it, and will continue to make the same songs w/ the same EDM beats and same lyrics as every other song for some reason.
April 14, 2015 @ 12:12 pm
I wasn’t fooled by him since I first heard him a few years ago. I never thought that anything he put out was much different than mainstream radio.
April 14, 2015 @ 12:35 pm
It’s too sad , there are lot awful songs like this on Texas Music Chart.
April 14, 2015 @ 12:37 pm
Awful lyrics, awful melody, just all around awful. At this point, I don’t know who’s making fun of who, Granger or Earl.
April 14, 2015 @ 12:41 pm
I picked up one of his CDs a while back (I think he is sitting in a pick-up truck on the cover) and it is awful.
I was kind of surprised (unpleasantly), because most musicians out of Texas follow the roots of country music, and not the prevailing garbage being produced on Music Row.
April 14, 2015 @ 2:45 pm
“he was sitting on a truck on the cover.” Are you sure it wasn’t Luke Bryan? or Cole Swindell? or Tyler Farr? or Fgl, Chase Rice, Blake Shelton, Kip Moore, or Chase Bryant? (who I’m convinced is actually just Chase Rice and Luke Bryan in a big suit pretending to be one guy like in those old cartoons.)
April 15, 2015 @ 3:19 pm
No, but it was nothing short of frightful.
I played it and kept waiting for something with a little depth and heart and soul, but it wasn’t to be had.
April 14, 2015 @ 1:50 pm
As someone who has seen Granger in concert twice, the first time was shortly after Earl Dibbles was launched and it was a pretty good show, it featured some of the old stuff and some of the new. Then about a year later I saw him again and it was just this news stuff, and it just seemed not real anymore. His old stuff is quite good, for instance his first album is on Spotify and it is really good, wish he would just put the brakes on Earl and go back to the older sound. The older songs will stand the test of time longer than this new music. But with that being said, this new stuff is still better than some, but still wish he would go back to the old, ie: Where Is She Now, Livin Like A Lonestar, etc. One final thing, Granger is great with his fans, I have spoke with him after both of his shows and you couldn’t ask for a better guy.
April 14, 2015 @ 2:35 pm
granger has some great songs but has had a long career I feel like eventually you have less and less to write about, unfortunately it eventually leads to this. hopefully it’ll get better.
April 15, 2015 @ 10:59 am
Finally, someone who thinks ike me. Our best wrting comes at one or two crucial point in our lives. We need a measure of drama in our lives to write profoundly. It is not simply old age that is responsible for an artist becoming irrelevant. It is, well, it is the fact that they have settled down, they have grown up, they have figured out how to handle the difficulties of life. And yeah they are plenty songs about happiness and contentment, but those songs sucks. That is why it is important that an artist employ the talents around him or her. If they constantly rely on what is inside of them, they will eventually start giving their fans music devoid of a soul. .
April 15, 2015 @ 11:57 am
Everything you said is as backwards as an inside-out platypus. First off, growing up and settling down doesn’t strip artists of material to write about, it teaches them lessons with which they write profound songs. See Don Williams’ Reflections, or Willie Nelson’s Heroes, or Porter Wagoner’s Unplugged, for great examples of artists whose best performances have come with age. Also, artists relying on songs from inside them is not devoid of soul, exactly the opposite is true. If an artist hasn’t experienced what they’re singing, only then is it devoid of soul. There’s a reason these bros can’t sing the hits like “Love me Tender” or “Bridge over Troubled Water” or “Old Man River.” They’d sound terrible because they don’t have the experience needed to bring the song to life. Likewise, an artist who has experienced what they sing delivers a far more heartfelt performance; Ray Charles did a wonderful recording of Old Man River, for instance.
April 15, 2015 @ 1:41 pm
I very much disagree with the idea that artists should limit themselves to their own personal experiences when writing songs. If the same standard were used in literature, then most of the great fiction that we celebrate would not exist.
April 15, 2015 @ 1:48 pm
I never said an artist should limit themselves to their own material, Perish the Thought of it!! We would be robbed of Alfie Boe’s incredible Les Miserables Performance, and much of Jerry Reed’s career. My comment, and I realize why it could be misconstrued, is more a comment against artists singing songs they have no business singing. Ever heard an emotionally bland performance? they call a lot of it Bro-Country now, and there’s certainly a lot of it in pop. Good singers sing stuff they can relate to, for instance: Ray Charles never worked on the Mississippi river, but he sure knocked “Old Man River” out of the park like Ted Williams.
April 14, 2015 @ 3:43 pm
OT: Trigger, the news link titled In Case You Missed It: Sturgill on Letterman actually opens on his Conan appearance in September.
Don’t know what you meant to link to, but don’t think it was this.
April 14, 2015 @ 5:37 pm
Well, all righty then. 49 seconds in and off it goes. I know people bitch about Josh Abbott, and I can sort of understand why, but this shit makes Abbott sound like Rollercoaster-era Randy Rogers.
April 14, 2015 @ 7:37 pm
Damn it! Trigger, I love you. I swear I do, but now my ears can never unhear that audio garbage! I won’t even call it music. Next time I will just take your “2 guns down” and interpret that as “Even if there is a link to the song or video below DO NOT listen to it” because Trigger, you are pretty dead on with your judgement of songs. I shall just trust you from this point forward and will only listen to any song with a grade of 1.5 guns up or better.
April 14, 2015 @ 9:43 pm
I just think it’s going to be funny whenever Granger takes his ass to Nashville and leaves all his Texas fanbase in the gutter.
April 15, 2015 @ 6:25 am
“Granger is never going to be a huge mainstream country star, so why continue to try when he already has a sustainable career and he could be the lovable, dual-personality country artist that makes you laugh and cry in the course of one concert?”
I’m just curious how you came to that conclusion. He’s got the pretty-boy look, and the bro style. So, why wouldn’t he become a mainstream star?
April 15, 2015 @ 8:41 am
Ugh, another lyric video.
April 15, 2015 @ 10:19 am
A few years ago, this would have been the most inoffensive bro song out there. I can hear the makings of an actual tune, and some warm vocals coming through whatever processing is making this thing sound so… off. But now, it just sounds dated and trying way too hard, too late. Just sad.
April 15, 2015 @ 11:43 am
My comment on the last article.
“This is all well and good but Granger Smith”™s tunes are absolutely made in the mold of nashville pop-country. Or more accurately made in the new texas country style of running Matchbox 20 through a country filter. Very much in the Eli Young vein. ”
I wasn’t wrong.
The Ghost of Buckshot Jones
April 15, 2015 @ 11:52 am
Which name sounds more fake, “Earl Dibbles Jr” or “Granger Smith”?
April 15, 2015 @ 12:52 pm
Fuzzy TwoShirts, Don Williams is an exception to that rule. Both Waylon Jennings (or whoever wrote for WJ) and Willie Nelson had a span of five years of good songs/song writing. Everything they did aftwards in my opinion, was simply good enough. Truth of the matter is, nearly all artist are famous for one record. Everything after that hit record is simply good enough. Artists who tend to blossom later on in their careers are often the exception, not the rule. What I am saying is that most artist (writers in this case) don’t have an endless amount of stories inside of them. We’ve only lived one life. And unless we are Job, our life does not consist of an endless stream of stories worth writing about. We tend to write about our most profound experience as soon as we come on the scene. That, in my opinion, is why artist tend to bottom out while they still have milage inside of them. As to what you said about older artist tend to sing with more feelings, that is not necessarily true. Talent is often ageless. Many of the most memorable songs of all generations were written by people in their 20’s. FGL and those in their category will not be able to sing with feelings even when they are old. It is true what you said about older artist are able to sing with deeper feelings. However, many of those same artist you have in mind do not write their own songs.
April 15, 2015 @ 1:12 pm
Sonas: I’ll grant Don Williams as an exception. but let’s look at Porter Wagoner for a while, his early career included “Green Green Grass of Home” and “Misery Loves Company.” his later career included “Bury me Beneath the Willow” and “Pictures from Life’s other Side.” He clearly continued to deliver heartfelt performances and fresh material into his later years. You brought up Waylon, and regardless of your opinions about his music or his best years, his early career gave us such gems as “Anita Stop Crying,” “Don’t play the Game” and one of his greatest songs, “Six White Horses.” Later in his career he offered up songs such as “Amanda.” Even later he gave us “Will the Wolf Survive,” “I’m a believer,” and a whole host of duets with Willie, Johnny and Kris. He had the material, regardless of our opinions about how good it compared to his other stuff. Your comment that most artists write their most profound experience when they come on the scene is absurd. Let’s ask Johnny Cash how he was supposed to write “When Papa Played the Dobro” or “Down at Dripping Springs” when he broke onto the scene with Sam Phillips, the man lacked the experience to create some of his best work. Granted he did show up with Folsom Prison Blues finished and I’ll credit you that.
April 15, 2015 @ 1:43 pm
During the 1970s, Waylon wrote very few of his songs. Out of about 10 songs in each album, he had writing credits on only about 2 on average.
April 15, 2015 @ 1:49 pm
That’s a whole lot more than Cole Swindell or Luke Bryan ever wrote!
April 15, 2015 @ 3:37 pm
I don’t know much about Cole Swindell, but Luke Bryan actually started out as a songwriter. He was the main writer in Billy Currington’s “Good Directions”, for example.
April 15, 2015 @ 1:35 pm
WJ did not write most of the songs he sang with Willie. In fact, did he even write most of the songs he recorded? I don’t believe he did. Porter Wagoner sounds incredable. I will put him as an exception to this rule also. I can’t say for sure why an artist tend to give us their best work early in their career. the information I presented is simply an hypothesis. It is not written in stones. I only know in the case of most artist, it is true. One thing I will give you is that older artist are better at putting feelings in other people’s songs than their younger counterparts. Maybe it is because older artist empathize more with people than do younger ones. I am not sure what it is, but truth is, I honestly cannot tell when an older artist is singing a song written by someone else. Yet I can almost always tell when a younger person is not singing his or hers own song. I do believe when a younger person is singing his or hers own song, they put just as much, if not more feelings in the song than or just as an older person.
April 15, 2015 @ 1:43 pm
You make some good points. To answer your question, Waylon did write a large portion of his solo material, but many of it was not majorly successful on the charts, even if it was some of his best work. What artists are you talking about who give us their best work early in their career? Surely not Ray Price? or Webb Pierce? or Hank Thompson who reinvented big band music, or the decades long career of Bob Wills, whose most memorable song “Faded Love” was recorded near the end of his career.
April 15, 2015 @ 2:01 pm
I will have to get back to you. I am really busy right now. Let’s hope I remember next week.
June 8, 2015 @ 2:31 pm
this song sounds terrible!!!!!!!!!!!!!