"I try to make records to encapsulate all the different elements of who I am and what I am experiencing at the time and certainly musically what I'm into. I love bluegrass music. I love traditional music. I like good rock bands. I like all the sounds. I'm willing to explore wherever my heart wants to go. Really if I had any conscious thing I wanted to do on this record, it was to combine a lot of the fun of 'What Was I Thinkin' and 'How Am I Doin' on that first record with some of the bigger themes that I've reached out to on these other records. I want to make one that (if) you have to buy this one record and see what Dierks is all about, this is it...It has fun songs, drinking (songs). It also stuff we've done like 'Pray,' 'Better Believer.' Big songs and big themes."
Bentley may be best known for those fun type of songs - "What Was I Thinkin'," ""How Am I Doin'" and "Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go)."
And there's some of that on the new CD with songs like the bluegrass honky tonker "Last Call" and "Little Heartwrecker." But the Arizona native gets very topical on "Beautiful World," a pretty sounding ballad with vocals from ace songwriter Patty Griffin.
|Dierks Bentley sings at Nobel Prize concert featuring Marit Larsen|
The song, penned by Bentley, his long-time producer Brett Beavers and Beavers' songwriting brother Jim, seems particularly appropriate given the state of the world today.
"All the noise and the voices are screaming what they have to say
And the headlines and sound bites are giving me demons to hate
And the man on TV, he tells me it's ugly, but if you ask me it's a
Beautiful world, it's a beautiful world
There's tears and there's fears and there's losses and crosses to bare
And sometimes the best we can do is just to whisper a prayer
Then press on because
There's so much to live for and so much to love in this
"There are a lot of problems and tough things going on in the world," says Bentley.
"I do struggle with it," says Bentley about maintaining optimism. "I'm reading a book right now 'A New Earth Inspiration Deck: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose' by Eckhart Tolle that really talks about being present in the moment that you're in. You can't lament the past. You can't do anything about the future. You just have to be present. Whether for me personally being on stage during the show or being home with my family, those are obviously moments you want to be completely present in, and I have no problem doing that."
"Riding the bus all day long or watching TV, just getting outside and enjoying your surroundings, I've always done it. I've never really struggled with it. I love sitting on the front seat of the bus, and I love landscapes and where we are and meeting people...Being present out here means hanging out with the fans or getting to know the city...Make the most of every minute - the only power in your life that you can have in your life is being present in the moment that you're in. Each one of those songs really encapsulates a certain moment."
Bentley refers to the uptempo song, "Sideways" where "you're hanging out with the guys. If you're going to hang out with the guys, do it right and have a good time."
Griffin is on the A-list for many musicians to sing with. "She has a weight of gravity to her voice that it really just grounds that song and the message I was trying to get across."
"I just asked her (to sing). I'm a ' huge fan. One thing I learned in Nashville, it never hurts to ask." Bentley did not personally know Griffin before. "I was surprised (she agreed). She said she liked my music. She said she wanted to do it...I just knew her music."
While acknowledging that the world has its troubles, Bentley says he is an upbeat person. "I try to be. I can get down like everybody else. If there's one thing I strive towards, it's being that way. What can you do? Just try to be positive. I try to be surrounded by positive people. When you're down, be down. There's nothing wrong with being down. When you're down...listen to some Frank Sinatra or George Jones and dig into it and enjoy it, and then pull yourself out."
Brett Beavers, a Texas native, who has produced Bentley for all five of his Capitol Nashville albums, does a lot of writing with him as well. "We started that song like we do a lot of them - with music and a groove," says Beavers in a phone call from Nashville. "We thought the music will speak to you regarding what it wants to be about. It's probably not going to be about raising hell. We poked about a couple of different things."