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Darius Rucker On Writing for Country

Darius Rucker photo courtesy of Capitol Nashville.

Darius Rucker knows what it’s like to be on a roll. He’s done it twice.

In 1995, he was a co-writer and the lead singer on four hits from one pop album as a member of Hootie + The Blowfish. In 2008, he was a co-writer and the singer on four hits from one album once again — but this time, it was his debut project as a country artist.

Does he have to do something different to write country songs?

“I don’t feel like it,” Darius says. “I always felt like I wrote story songs anyway, so it’s like when I write with these guys [in Nashville], I feel like I’m extending what I’m already doing.”

Darius’ co-writers used to be his fellow Hootie members. Now it’s a different set of songwriters, and that’s perhaps the biggest reason his songs are working in a different way. It’s not just the words or the storyline that they create — it’s the melody and the chord structure of the songs, and the filter that every writer brings to the table has an impact on the end product.

“I don’t think it’s something you can teach,” Darius says. “I just think it’s something you learn growin’ up. The music you listen to growin’ up so much affects your sense of melody. When I’m singin’ with somebody, writing with somebody, and I’m in that Al Green part of my mind — ‘cause that was the No. 1 thing for me growin’ up — and I’m singin’ one way and [the other writer is] from that Merle Haggard part, he sings the same line a different way. It comes out, ‘Wow, I wanna sing it just like that. That’s it. It’s perfect.’ That’s what songwriting is here in Nashville. I love it.”

Darius wrote his current single, “Come Back Song,” with a couple of ace writers. Chris Stapleton came to prominence as a member of the bluegrass group the SteelDrivers. And Casey Beathard has written such familiar songs as George Strait’s “The Breath You Take,” Kenny Chesney’s “Don’t Blink” and Rodney Atkins’ “Cleaning This Gun (Come On In Boy).”

“Come Back Song” appears on Darius’ next album, Charleston, SC 1966, which comes out Oct. 12.

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