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Rodney Hayden lives the good life

By Tom Netherland, November 2003

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Indeed, Hayden could have done much worse than to record their song, which stands as a modern-day honky tonker. But if you want to take a peek into Hayden's life as he knows it today, check out the title track, "Living the Good Life."

Despite having lost a shot at signing with MCA, he takes a wise philosophical approach to life. In short, the song whittles life down to its essentials for him. He has his youth, health, good family, a nice house, a nice truck and a place to go fishing. Now, what more could a country boy possibly want out of life?

"That's it. That song means a lot because it's me right now," he says. "I'm not rich and don't need to be. I'm making music, playing music for people and making a living from it. Some crowds are larger than others, and some crowds are really small. But I still have my house, family, truck and so on. It's a good life. I have no complaints."

Another slice of Hayden's life comes via "Goodbye to My Hometown," which he wrote with frequent collaborator Bill Whitbeck. Chances are we all look back from time to time to where we came from and what once was the town that we knew, but, of course, as time passes and we change, so too do the places where we came from.

"Everybody knows everything about everyone," the song goes. But "before you know it you're not a kid, and you realize how small it is, can't wait until the day you leave it in the past."

"I think most of us can find something to relate to in that song, especially anyone from a small town," Hayden says. "We can't wait to leave home for a bigger and better place, yet how many of us later look back and see that that small town looks pretty good after all? We sometimes don't know what we have and where we are until we know longer have it."

Perhaps the album's most attractive and everlasting song comes via Hayden's "Mr. Mockingbird." It sounds like a country song from the 1950s. Its straightforward and simple lyrical and musical content hearkens to a day when country singers didn't sing songs with lyrics enough to fill a book.

"That song sounds really neat to me, too," Hayden says. "Bill Whitbeck (the co-writer) and I were going for that old country sort of feel in the lyrics. I think maybe we pulled that off."

Indeed. As time goes by chances are that Hayden will pull off quite a few more songs that hit like a hammer on a nail. Just read Keen, offers by way of praise in the album's publicity materials. "Rodney Hayden is a double eagle, grand slam, black Jack talent. He makes me want to give up my night job."

With words such as those, it sounds like the boy has a lot to live up to there. But then refreshing it is when a talent such as Hayden gets turned back from a label like MCA, and doesn't bemoan the fact. Instead, he registers it to experience.

"I'm young. Maybe one day I'll get another chance, but for now I'm proud to be making records for Audium and playing music on stage," he says. "What more can I ask for?"

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