NASHVILLE (Billboard) - In the past year, country radio has
played songs by the Eagles, Bon Jovi and Jewel. And before
year's end, it likely will play a new single from Jessica
Simpson. The latest artist to make the jump from pop to country
is Darius Rucker, singer for Hootie & the Blowfish.
"Don't Think I Don't Think About It," the first single from
his as-yet-unnamed solo album, is No. 47 on Billboard's Hot
Country Songs chart after two weeks on the list. The
regret-filled cut, which Rucker co-wrote with songwriter Clay
Mills ("Beautiful Mess"), is garnering airplay on stations in
Minneapolis, San Diego, San Antonio and Salt Lake City.
Country KEGA Salt Lake City program director Cody Alan
embraces the idea of cross-genre pollination. "I'm not much of
an 'in-the-box' thinker, so I love the crossover acts,
particularly those with instant pop-culture familiarity like
But Alan is adamant that the song has to be right. "Aside
from it being Darius Rucker, it's a great country song and
lyric. I could hear George Strait sing it."
It's an easy out for artists both country and otherwise to
try to gain credibility by name-dropping Patsy Cline and Willie
Nelson, for example, but Rucker has a genuine affection for the
"I think my biggest country influence is Radney Foster,"
Rucker says, citing Lyle Lovett, New Grass Revival and Dwight
Yoakam as other examples. "The first time I heard Foster &
Lloyd's 'Crazy Over You' on TV, I went into the record store
where I worked early so that I could open the album and hear
Still, he understands if there's skepticism about his
intentions. "You see a lot of people doing a one-off, saying,
'This is my country record.' But this is a career I'm trying to
build. The people that say that they don't get it, I'll let the
music speak for itself. I plan to do a lot of country records."
Rucker says that on his current radio tour "it's fun seeing
people's reactions to the songs. The music is changing
Produced by Frank Rogers (Brad Paisley), the album is
tentatively scheduled for fall release on Capitol Nashville.
After Hootie & the Blowfish finishes touring in August, Rucker
hopes to hit the road with his own band.