Kid Rock – “All Summer Long”

Jim Malec | July 17th, 2008

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.

Thumbs Up

Listen: Kid Rock – “All Summer Long”

3 Pings

  1. [...] Argh.  No!  He rhymes “things” with “things!”  I’m willing to concede every point you make, but how can you give a thumbs up to a song that ...“  It’s the same word!  It’s not a rhyme.  It’s like when poetry [...]
  2. [...] For those who have seen my review of “All Summer Long” by Kid Rock you may want to also check out what The 9513 has to say. They take the song apart bit by bit in a fabuous take on the hot new summmer anthem. http://www.the9513.com/kid-rock-all-summer-long/ [...]
  3. [...] the song has grown on me. Really grown on me. Apparently I am not the only one as Jim Malec of The 9513 Country blog seems to like the song also. Go YouTube the song. Warning: if you listen to it twice you just [...]
  1. Kelly
    July 17, 2008 at 7:26 am

    I wasnt huge on the song myself after hearing it on the radio, in fact, it took me while to realize it was even a “new” song, it’s so derivitive. After seeing the video, however, I came to feel the way you do Jim. It’s the equivalent of a summer “popcorn” movie. No, the asteriod will not hit the earth and yes, Will Smith will save the day and we will enjoy it even though there are no Oscars in the movies future. This song does have a predictable, catchy and fun, if not cerebrally challenging hook, that will have us signin’ it “all summer long”, regardless of how unoriginal or uninventive it may be…

  2. stormy
    July 17, 2008 at 8:33 am

    The last Kid Rock song I heard that I felt was actually worth listening to was Lonely Road of Faith.
    But then again, the last popcorn movie I went to was The Rock.

  3. Telly
    July 17, 2008 at 8:35 am

    I really like this song. But the video could have been much better. Seventeen year old small town high school girls in 1989 didn’t act like LA strippers from the year 2008, and we sure didn’t have stripper poles on our boat. I guess I’m asking too much though in that regard.

    Still a good summer song, though.

  4. Kelly
    July 17, 2008 at 8:46 am

    “….welcome to the rock”

  5. Lynn
    July 17, 2008 at 8:59 am

    I’m not surprised this is a summer hit. He’s channeling two classics: (1) Sweet Home Alabama (you can be in a bar anywhere in the world and people will go crazy when this song comes on); and (2) Summertime nostalgia (e.g., Summer of ’69). But you nailed it; it’s summer fluff. Years from now, people will be listening to the original and not this rip-off.

  6. Jim Malec
    July 17, 2008 at 9:07 am

    For what it’s worth, I had a really hard time deciding whether or not to give this a thumbs up or a thumbs down.

    In the end, I chose “up” because I like the fact that this recognizes the social element of music, which I consider very important.

    If I were grading on musical quality alone, it would surely be a “down” review. There’s just not a lot of room for nuance in the up/down rating system.

  7. Kelly
    July 17, 2008 at 9:13 am

    what about a thumb with a 45 degree turn one way or the other???

  8. Rick
    July 17, 2008 at 10:13 am

    Jim, that’s easy enough to remedy as all you need is a thumb sideways symbol! (lol) Kid Rock’s not exactly my cup of tea musically, but since I pretty much quit listening to Top 40 country radio it doesn’t matter any longer. I have declared my personal freedom from the chains of Airhead Country top 40 radio bondage!

    PS – Who needs the Lefsetz letter when we have Jim making such pithy comments as this here at The 9513:

    “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.”

    Talk about hitting the proverbial nail on the head. Jim, I think its time you started “The Malec Letter”…

  9. Kate O'
    July 17, 2008 at 10:45 am

    I thought Kenny Chesney was the undisputed king of country summer music.

  10. Jim Malec
    July 17, 2008 at 11:01 am

    Kate, I choose to dispute it!

    May his throne be usurped.

    Rick–that’s a fine compliment. Thanks. And, actually, consider it started. Well, something around thereabouts, anyhow.

  11. Matt B.
    July 17, 2008 at 11:16 am

    I was talking with some artists the other day and while a couple thought it was cool the way Kid Rock ‘mashed’ the songs up, another hated that he couldn’t make this song his own without ‘resorting’ to ‘samples,’ saying that samples were generally a bad idea.

    While I agree with both of them, this song is still fun as a nonsensical summer party song.

  12. Brad
    July 17, 2008 at 11:18 am

    I’ve been a fan of Kid Rock’s for a decade now, and while I’m not the biggest fan of this song in particular; I think it displays his knack for being true to himself. And, that’s what I’ve always dug about him. He does what he wants with no apologies…whether what he’s accomplished is corny or groundbreaking (he’s had plenty of both) it doesn’t matter to him. I’ve seen him live almost a dozen times and along with his band, Twisted Brown Trucker,they put on one of the best lives shows I’ve ever seen. American rock n’ roll and Waylon attitude layered with the vibe of a 1986 Run DMC show.

    This ain’t going to win any songwriting awards, but it certainly accomplished Bob’s goal of being an insanely hooky summer song.

  13. Jamie
    July 17, 2008 at 11:36 am

    That is some smooth sweet piano playin’ Billy Powell is doin’!

  14. CraigR.
    July 17, 2008 at 11:45 am

    Kid Rock- ugh!- Country music’s need to accept any music at all from any C-list performer is disgusting. Kid Rock only stands in line behind all the American Idol “country” singers, that includes Carrie Underwood( who has a great voice, but not a country voice),Jewel( so she sleeps with a rodeo star- Radio and television have welcomed her as though she was the second coming!), and Jessica” I can’t make a move without daddy’s say so”Simpson. She is only singing country because she can’t make it any place else. Jim mentioned Garth in his review. I blame Garth and Ms. Twain for all of this pop “country”. Where is the ghost of Johnny Cash when you need him?

  15. M.C.
    July 17, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Craig–Not sure where the ghost of Cash is, but when he was alive he welcomed Kid Rock to his home and played music with him. Kid Rock also played at the memorial tribute the Cash family set up at the Ryman after Johnny’s death, too.

    June was Hank Jr’s godmother, of course, and Jr and Rock have been known to go a few rounds. But beyond that, Cash always welcomed an opportunity to share music with performers from various genres, as proven by his TV show or his last decade or so of record-making. He didn’t particularly care for setting boundaries between country and other fields, you know.

    As for Jessica Simpson, Willie and Dolly Parton have been duet partners with her. It doesn’t mean I’m all that excited about listening to her album, but I’m just saying your typical country legend isn’t as concerned with closing the gates around the music as some fans are.

  16. Dan M.
    July 17, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Wait – Jim already has his own Minute! Now he gets a Letter, too?!

    Just kidding, do your thing.

  17. CraigR.
    July 17, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    M.C. I know all about Cash’s openness. But playing music with a guy is different than thinking he is a country singer. Cash also played with Dylan and Louis Armstrong- but he didn’t call them country singers. Music can cross over but Kid Rock is a not a talent to point that out. He is trashy ,and in my eyes, a weak singer and songwriter. He may have played with Cash, but he is a groupie not an equal.

  18. Ally
    July 17, 2008 at 2:47 pm

    “All Summer Long” is, in my opinion, a near train wreck both lyrically and musically (Composition wise…)

    This song does not appeal to me in the least, though I grew up in northern Michigan. I find it rather hard to listen to–and enjoy–something that has so many elements poorly combined, with poorly written lyrics to boot.

    I’ve never been a big Kid Rock fan, and this song doesn’t incline me to change my thinking in this aspect.

    However, there does seem to be a void for “summer songs” released this summer to radio. Ashton Shepherd’s “Sounds So Good” is the only other one I can think of off the top of my head. So maybe something will become of it.

    Well-done review though.

  19. J.R. Journey
    July 17, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    While I am not typically a fan of Kid Rock and his brand of music, or even Hank, Jr. and all the rowdy whiskey-drinking side of country music, I am really liking this song too. As Jim pointed out, it has the primary element that draws long-time followers to county music and keeps us here.

    That element is of course the emotional connection. The great Eddy Arnold once said, “Never forget that the American audience is largely sentimental.” Any track that can invoke memories of some of the happiest times in a person’s life is good music in my opinion.

  20. Jim Malec
    July 17, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    Fair disclaimer: I grew up in Northern Michigan, too.

    I don’t agree that this is a train wreck, Ally. There are some very good lyrics mixed in with a lot more very bad lyrics, and it’s easy to focus on the very bad lyrics if you’re already predisposed to not liking KR.

    Now, when all is said and done, is it a “good” lyric as a whole? Questionable. I’d say no, although I do think the chorus is solid, and that’s the primary key to making a song like this work.

    Musically, it’s just so derivative that it’s hard to judge on it’s own. I actually think it was a very smart and cool idea to blend the two samples into a single song…but it’s taken to an extreme here–so much so that it overpowers any sense of it being its own composition.

    As far as Ashton–good observation. I would like to agree because I love “Sounds So Good.” But she has a very polarizing voice, and I’m not sure the single can gain the universal traction that a song like “All Summer Long” can. Part of the issue here is accessibility. There’s a reason smart indie rock bands don’t have massive, cross-culture hits.

  21. Matt B.
    July 17, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    Trent Willmon’s “Cold Beer and a Fishin’ Pole” was just released and it has a summer vibe to it (although I’m not sure it can or will be a big hit).

  22. Rick
    July 17, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    Hey, the summer’s half over so its time to start looking forward to the approaching fall season. I’m expecting Taylor Swift to release a “Its Back To High School” or “Its Time To Shop For New Jeans” themed single within the coming weeks…….

  23. Peter Kohan
    July 17, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    I don’t dislike Kid Rock pe se, but he’s the kind of artist I either enjoy or dislike based on his current single… and I dislike this single.

    I like KR on songs like “Cowboy” or “Picture” because you know he is that guy in those songs. Here I feel he’s just slapping a couple of samples together and phoning it in. And if you’re gonna throw in a guitar solo on this track, then make it a memorable one, not one where it compares negatively with the solos on both of the sampled tracks.

    If the state of music today (regardless of genre)means THIS is the track of the summer, then radio had better get bigger ears.

  24. Matt B.
    July 17, 2008 at 10:43 pm

    Rick,

    The emotional “message” ballads are coming…Even Billy Ray has a new one out. Perhaps Taylor will too.

  25. Natalie
    July 17, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    This song is not too bad for a forgettable summer song. Not listening to country radio too much lately because there really isn’t too much on it. I’m all “message ballad”ed out. There really isn’t a good BS, makes you wanna get up and dance at the BBQ song out there right now, nothing that you and your friend’s are all singing to. Thought about it and I’m thinking, LOL the summer of ’92 when achy-breaky heart was HUGE, followed by neon moon and boot scootin boogie, and of course back then you could always find Friend in Low Places on the radio (with and without the third verse). Was that the same year “Don’t Go Near The Water” by Sammy Kershaw was floatin around as well as Whatcha Gonna Do with a Cowboy by Chris LeDoux, I think I Feel Lucky by Ms. Carpenter was out there too. Anyway my point being, I’m not hearing anything that’s on the radio right now that will evoke any nostalgia in me 15 years from now.

  26. Dan M.
    July 18, 2008 at 7:47 am

    I agree with Jim’s sentiments on the song, but I have to say that it was pretty disheartening this morning when I turned on the radio and heard a country DJ having people call in to comment on whether the single was “country” enough. Two out of three callers enthused, “yes, it’s definitely country!” The third caller said, “that’s not country! It’s plagiarism!”

  27. stormy
    July 18, 2008 at 8:44 am

    Dan: I can find you three people who will swear that Jessia’s new mess is country.

  28. Mirandas2cool
    July 21, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    I have to say i was a bit shocked and almost angered when i heard this song and the lyrics for the first time, but its grown on me and Kid Rock at least tries to make it sound country..ish. Well i like the song, and i am yet to make a decision on whether or not Kid Rock is country. “The picture” was a very well put together country effort, but i dont know yet. I think “All summer long” is a fun “sing along” summer song but he might not want to steal lyrics/music so much in his next single though.. lol

  29. Marjorierose
    July 22, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    Well I will give this article and song a thumbs up !!!! I work in an office with over 50 women. They all know that I am a huge fan of KR > some others also and some not >>> BUT this morning I go into work and one of the nurses is singing All Summer Long > “I can’t get this song out of my head ” she says, It’s really good listening ” !!! Yep I do love Kid Rock ! He is the real deal !! If you”re looking for something other than a true > down to earth> I say and sing what I feel kind of guy >>>> then YES > you will have to look elsewhere. I have been following his career since the later 90s > and still I am impressed by his talent !!! Everyone has an opinion > I have learned to accept that where Kid Rock is concerned. I have taken many to concerts of his that came home a fan > all came home a fan. His energy and dedication to his audience , his talent and diversity , his famously great > “The Twisted Brown Trucker Band > leave you on a natural high for a week !!!! So Let Bob do Country, Rock,Gospel, Hiphop >>>>>> anything he feels like doing >>> IT”S ALL GOOD and REAL !!!!!!!!!!!

  30. Bobby
    July 23, 2008 at 11:34 am

    I didn’t hear the samples in this song at all. Could my station be playing an abridged version? (They also snip out the bridge to “Believe” by B&D. It’s a satellite station, so maybe they need to cut corners for time slots.)

    I like what I’m hearing, though.

  31. Stephen H.
    July 25, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    In all honesty, if you’re not hearing the samples, then you’re not hearing the song at all. Take out the two samples and there’s basically nothing left musically, other than a drum machine and Kid Rock’s vocals.

  32. Stephen H.
    July 25, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    And on a side note, cutting out the bridge to “Believe” completely makes that song pointless. The whole point of that song is that there’s life beyond this life. Without the bridge, it’s just a depressing song about this old guy down the street who dies while the narrator’s in college.

  33. Lucas
    July 27, 2008 at 10:31 am

    It would be a great fresh sound and everything, except he just sang over Sweet Home Alabama.

  34. David Nisbet, Scotland
    July 27, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    The third caller said, “that’s not country! It’s plagiarism!”
    ———

    I wonder what that person thinks of early Country, when every other song “borrowed” each other’s tune.

  35. Stormy
    July 27, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Thats pretty much what I think of Contemporary country.

  36. Heidi (agent713)
    July 30, 2008 at 11:26 am

    I hate that I agree with you Jim.

    I hate that Kid Rock sings this song.

    And most of all, I hate that I don’t hate this song!

  37. dallas
    September 6, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    i dont like Kid Rock.seem him once not to long ago.hes bad news.

  38. Nocona
    December 25, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    I have never ever liked Kid Rock. Now I dislike him even more.

    See, I don’t mind “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. It’s a pretty good song. Not on the top of my list, but still a good one nonetheless.

    Anyways, I feel Kid Rock has just slaughtered the song (and borrowing that riff from “Werewolves of London”? Shame on him. Warren Zevon rolls over in his grave). And “hackneyed” is definitely a good word for describing this song.

    I also put forward these words: plagiarism, completely derivative, lack of originality. Seriously, he should stick to writing his own songs.

    The only decent part of the song is the guitar solo. I actually get somewhat pumped during the solo, but when it returns to the main part of the song, I return to my sickened state.

    Plus, the fact that I’ve been forced to hear it over the radio at work so many times doesn’t help either.

    Overall: Blech blech barf.

    -Nocona

  39. Clintwood East
    March 31, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    What I want to know is how he dodged the copyright! It’s a rip off from the piano riff of Warren Zevon’s ‘Werewolves Of London’ from 1978. Can we do nothing original anymore? You can hang this song. Warren Zevon’s ‘Werewolves Of London’ leaves this for dead!

  40. Chris N.
    March 31, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    Um, that’s why Warren Zevon is listed as a co-writer and his estate gets a share of the royalties.

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