Kid Rock – “All Summer Long”
Songwriters: Kid Rock, Edward King, Gary Rossington, Matthew Shafer, Ronnie Van Zant, Robert Watchel, Warren Zevon
Already a worldwide, cross-format smash, Kid Rock’s heavily derivative “All Summer Long,” which insatiably samples the signature licks from both Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves Of London” and Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” is currently working its way up the country charts–a fact that makes this critic question whether there’s any style of music country radio stations will not play. (Besides country music, of course.)
No way, no how, not in a million years, not under the biggest tent, nor by the broadest definition, can this be called a country song. Not any more than Lynyrd Skynyrd or Bob Seger (both are channeled here) can be called country artists.
But as much as I would enjoy deriding country radio for jumping even further onto the crossover bandwagon, I can’t, in good conscience, lambaste it for embracing what is essentially the perfect summer anthem.
In fact, if the powers-that-be at country radio didn’t play this song, they’d be crazier than a loon.
Why? Simple. The format is boring. Really, incredibly, fantastically, boring. We have Jessica Simpson’s hyperactive proto-pop. We have Taylor Swift’s effervescent gushing. We even have Rascal Flatts’ head-bobbing. But their music is irrelevant. It’s background noise, just something we hear and leave turned-on because we recognize it. It creates a comfortable, familiar setting.
But it’s not summer music. It doesn’t make you want to jump and and down and wave your hands and sing along. It doesn’t fill you with that strange, unexplainable sense of pride that you feel when those first notes of “Sweet Home” or “Free Bird” ring out over the speakers. Those songs make people cheer.
Summer music is about social connections. It’s about how we share the music with our friends. Can my girlfriend or my buddy sitting on the other side of the campfire relate to it the same way that I can?
Garth made that kind of music. “The Dance” is epic. So is “Friends In Low Places.” There is a generation that loves this music because it is grounded in a time and place. It has a context. We can see it and smell it and feel it, not just hear it. It might not be “great music” in a purely artistic or critical context, but it is emotionally relevant because it is tied to specific, concrete moments and experiences.
No one in country music is making that kind of music right now. If “Come On Over” diapered from the airwaves tomorrow, who would care? It has no substance. Like air, you breath it in, but when you exhale its gone just as fast as it came.
And that’s why country radio will, and should, jump all over “All Summer Long.”
Sure, it’s not exactly artistic brilliance. Kid Rock has crafted a loose rehash of the typical “man, times were good when we were seventeen” story, although it does take on some extra flavor from being laced with imagery specifically related to the time he spent growing up in rural Northern Michigan. It also, appropriately in that sense, nods more to Seger’s “Night Moves,” in terms of story, than to Tim McGraw’s “Seventeen” or other country songs of the ilk.
Still, the unyielding repetition of the Zevon and Skynyrd riffs completely dominates the song musically, while lyrics like, “I never will forget/The way the moonlight shined upon her hair,” are simply cringeworthy.
And don’t even get me started on the overly-emotional choirs that sporadically pop up throughout the track. All-in-all the whole thing is overdone and a little bit hackneyed.
Classic? Not by a long shot.
But who cares? Here’s an artist who is willing to show some personality. And that chorus, insanely hooky as it is, hits us right in the gut. We’re young and unencumbered, and this is our summer. “Sippin’ whisky out the bottle/Not thinkin’ ’bout tomorrow/Singing ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ all summer long.”
Damn right, we’ll say, as we take a swig.
Listen: Kid Rock – “All Summer Long”
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