Granger Smith Responds to Civil Unrest With Lathan Warlick Remix of ‘That’s Why I Love Dirt Roads’ [LISTEN]
Granger Smith and Christian rap artist Lathan Warlick teamed up to remix "That's Why I Love Dirt Roads" several weeks ago, but the country singer is releasing a studio version as his new radio single in response to a week of civil unrest in America.
Smith totally reimagined a song he first introduced seven months ago. Gone are the acoustic and steel guitars and steady drum patter that drove an organic, open-road country vibe. This remake favors piano chords, heavy reverb and dramatic, studio-generated beats.
The collaboration between two very different artists is intended to be as much of a social statement as it seems. A note from Smith’s record label, Wheelhouse Records, shares that the love and hate that has been on display in the wake of the death of George Floyd -- a 46-year-old black man from Minneapolis, Minn., who died after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes -- led to a decision to promote this version as a radio single right now, instead of just dropping it as a remix for fans to find and programmers to play if they chose.
Warlick's participation begins during the second verse, where he adds new lyrics that reflect his experiences: "Yeah, you never know what to expect or what’s coming next when riding them dirt roads / The gravel and dust might throw you off / If I’m ready or not only God knows / It’s hard trynna hold it together when I lost a couple of people along the ride / Wish I could roll back the hands on a clock just to tell ‘em ‘I love you’ just one more time ...
"I wasn’t prepared for the pain that came, it had me tore up on the inside / But I can hear you on the side of me, whispering softly, telling me not to cry / Just when I thought I was hopeless, you kept reminding me how you’ll never leave," Warlick continues. "And all of them people we lost had a place up in heaven, so make sure I get a seat / We go through some ups and downs and might even have a few curves we don’t see / I end up at home every time, 'cause God got his hand on my life and he guiding me, yeah."
On his website, Warlick recounts growing up on a side of Jackson, Tenn., known for gangs and violence, and tells a story of being held up at gunpoint in 2011. He prayed for God to intervene, but the trigger was pulled anyway. Thankfully, there was no bullet in the chamber, so all he heard was a click.
Smith explains how he and Warlick came together on Instagram, saying that his wife shared how the "Tellem That I'm Coming" singer had been adding new lyrics to popular songs. A DM or two later and the pair agreed on what Smith labels "an unlikely collaboration."
"This dude, through his own path, has pulled the layers back on life and sees things in a new way ... with truth, integrity and God first," Smith writes. "I only hope that one day I can see as clearly as he does."
The timing of the release corresponds to the many conversations about race and racial inequality being had nationwide since Floyd's death in May. Nationwide protests have led to a deeper exploration of the topic, with the music industry even coming together to hit pause last Tuesday (June 2). The 40-year-old Smith had been quiet on the subject on social media until Monday's release.
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