What first led me to country music was the honesty of the lyrics. Truth is hard to find and here was a genre where many of the early songs of country music had laid bare the honesty of a feeling, of a situation or of an emotion. Really, truth is hard to find and it’s especially difficult to be honest with yourself. The truth hurts. But what I’ve always appreciated about the early songwriters of the country genre was that they had an innocence to their songwriting. I don’t think many of these early songwriters knew any better, and I don’t mean that as an insult, I mean it as a compliment. Their innocence hadn’t yet been corrupted. They knew nothing different but to tell it like it is, and some of them paid a steep cost, look at ole Hank Williams.
You can’t be in touch with that kind of emotion and not have it take some serious toll on you.
Question: Do you know what we don’t need? Answer: Social Media Question: Do you know how long mankind existed without social media? Answer: 200,000 years Question: Do you know what social media gives most people? Answer: Nothing, but anxiety.
And that’s what led us to making this album. Freedom. We were given a gift, fans pledged their money to our Kickstarter campaign, they gave us the means to make this album. The pandemic showed up and it gave us the time to evaluate life, purpose, and our place in it. And then it gave us the time and the opportunity to write about observations and meaningful experiences and to record it in this collection of songs.
So, we’re giving it back. Not having to stand on stage and please anyone for a stretch of nearly 16 months gave us a certain freedom. A freedom to exist in a more innocent and honest state. It gave us the opportunity to be honest with ourselves and to put our observations and feelings into lyrics and music. It was a creative freedom I hadn't felt since I first started writing songs.
My father always said to me that if he had something worthwhile, that he thought would benefit other people, then he would give it away. He would want other people to have it if he thought it could help them. I don’t know if this album will be beneficial to everyone, but it’s felt beneficial to us and we want to share it. If you want “Free Country” then we’re gonna give it to you. And it’s free to download for anyone who wants it.
This album isn’t about politics. Ward Hayden and The Outliers aren’t concerned with the names of the players, firebrands that anyone holds near and dear, whose banner they hang their ego and identity on or whose words other people use to speak for them. This is an album of reflection and an examination of the socio-cultural divide, with a desire to survive it, surpass it and then move past it.
This is about you, this is about me, this is about us as people. It’s also about the hope and trust that the strong emotions a lot of us are feeling will manifest into positivity. Sometimes before deciding to visit a car wash, you have to first acknowledge that the car you’re driving is in fact dirty and in need of being cleaned up.
Here’s the thing….you can’t kill an idea, you can’t wipe out an ideology because you find it offensive or hurtful or damaging. And it’s fine to oppose it, but that won’t do away with it. So, here’s the other thing…you can replace is with something better. If you want to numb out and not think, turn on the tv. But, if you want to experience Free Country, download the album, press play, read along with the lyrics and let’s see what happens.