Chris Shiflett Navigates a Tough Political Climate in ‘This Ol’ World’ [LISTEN]
"I've always struggled to write songs about what's happening right now," explains Chris Shiflett, the Foo Fighters rocker whose two most recent solo albums have delved into his rootsier side. "I always write songs about something that happened 10 years ago, or 30 years ago -- always kind of looking back."
That all changed on his newest project, Hard Lessons. "It wasn't intentional, but it just kinda came out that way," Shiflett adds. "I realized, in looking through the songs, that a lot of them are sort of current, about what's happening to me right now. I don't know why that is."
One such song is "This Ol' World," a track that not only speaks to Shiflett's current experience but also reflects on today's divisive political climate. The singer says he differed from his usual songwriting process when creating that song in another way, too.
"Normally, I try to write very specifically, and that one, I went out of my way to keep the lyrics as vague as I could," he explains. "That was intentional. Because I wanted people with different world views to maybe recognize themselves a little bit in it."
Even though all his listeners might not agree with his particular viewpoints, Shiflett continues, he hopes some of those fans can relate to the more general state of feeling disoriented within today's rapidly changing sociopolitical landscape.
"I'm a progressive, and was a lifelong Democrat until not that long ago," he relates. "I don't really identify with the Democrat party in its current state much. And I certainly don't identify with -- I mean, I'm nowhere near a conservative."
Shiflett writes from the perspective of someone who comes from a largely left-leaning community. "These last few years, I feel like I'm watching all my liberal friends and neighbors lose their minds, not being able to comprehend why we're at the point where we're at, politically and socially," he continues. "[The song] speaks more to the frustration that is there. I think some people think it's pointing the finger at Trump, or Trump supporters, and it was really not intended that way.
"With my political views, I tend to upset everybody across the spectrum," he adds with a laugh.
Still, the singer says he hesitates to address politics directly during his live shows, because of the reaction the topic typically gets from a crowd: "Now that I'm playing that song live, I've tried different ways of introducing it, you know. And the second you start talking about even the most mild political stuff, you can feel the air suck out of the room. Like, 'Oh no. Where's this guy going?'" he says.
Shiflett's new album, Hard Lessons, is due out on June 14.
Country's Most Political Artists