meta-scriptTrini Lopez, Who Revitalized American & Mexican Folk Classics, Has Died From COVID-19 At 83 | GRAMMY.com
Trini Lopez in London in 1965

Trini Lopez in London in 1965

Photo: Stanley Bielecki/ASP/Getty Images

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Trini Lopez, Who Revitalized American & Mexican Folk Classics, Has Died From COVID-19 At 83

The GRAMMY-nominated singer/guitarist's biggest global hits were lively covers of folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary's "If I Had a Hammer" and "Lemon Tree"

GRAMMYs/Aug 13, 2020 - 02:18 am

GRAMMY-nominated singer, guitarist and actor Trini Lopez, whose lively blend of American and Mexican folk songs with rockabilly flair earned him worldwide fame in the '60s, has died at 83. The Mexican-American artist died from COVID-19 at a hospital in Rancho Mirage, Calif. yesterday, Aug. 11.

Beginning with his 1963 debut studio album, Trini Lopez At PJ's, Lopez found success bringing new life—and a raucous, danceable beat and vocal delivery—to other artists' songs, including folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary's hits "If I Had a Hammer" and "Lemon Tree." Both songs would be his biggest, with his versions out-charting theirs both on the Billboard Hot 100 and international charts.

Back at the 6th GRAMMY Awards in 1964, following his epic breakout year, Lopez was nominated for Best New Artist.

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If I Had A Hammer: From Aretha Franklin To Public Enemy, Here's How Artists Have Amplified Social Justice Movements Through Music

His rocked-up rendition of "I Had a Hammer," released in 1963 on his live debut album, hit No. 3 on the Hot 100 and No. 1 in 36 countries. The song was originally written by political activist/folk icon Pete Seeger and Lee Hays and recorded as a protest song by their band The Weavers in 1950, reemerging as a GRAMMY-winning No. 10 hit from Peter, Paul and Mary in 1962, the year prior to Lopez's breakout success with the classic song.

Popular '60s West Hollywood star-studded venue P.J.'s, where the Dallas-born singer recorded his first two albums (which also put the club on the map outside of Los Angeles), was where he got his big break, from none other than Frank Sinatra. After catching a few of his shows, the Rat Pack leader signed him to his Reprise label.

"I remember reading in the trades that Frank Sinatra frequented P.J.’s a lot so I moved over there so I could meet him," Lopez said. "I was hired for three weeks and I stayed a year and a half. I played four or five shows every single night and I never repeated a song. I just kept waiting to meet Frank Sinatra, and within a month he came with an entourage and to my surprise he offered me an eight-year record contract on his label. I put P.J.'s on the map with my live albums since they were recorded for Sinatra's record company."

Read: Sin-atra City: The story of Frank Sinatra and Las Vegas

A self-proclaimed "proud" Mexican-American born to immigrant parents in Dallas in 1937, Lopez also performed and recorded many songs in Spanish at a time when artists, including himself, were asked by labels to hide or Whitewash their Latin identity. Trini Lopez At PJ's included a rendition of traditional Mexican folk song "Cielito Lindo" and in 1964, he released The Latin Album, filled with of Spanish language classics. His father, Trinidad Lopez II, was a ranchera singer who made his living as manual laborer.

As The Guardian notes, "in the mid-'60s he was releasing as many as five albums a year, though that slowed in the late '70s. While he continued performing, he released very little music until 2000, when he began recording again and released a further six albums." His final album, released in 2011 and titled Into the Future, was a nod to Sinatra, featuring songs from his catalog.

Save Our Venues: Capturing Los Angeles' COVID-Closed Venues

At the peak of his musical fame in the '60s and '70s, he also found moderate success in film and TV, with roles in films The Dirty Dozen (1967) and Antonio (1973) and a variety show special on NBC in 1969, "The Trini Lopez Show."

A talented guitar player—he started playing at age 11—Gibson Guitars had him design two instruments in 1964, which remain highly sought after to this day. Dave Grohl and Noel Gallagher are both fans of the vintage models. Grohl paid tribute to Lopez on Twitter today, underscoring that he's used his on every Foo Fighters album ever recorded.

His electric live performances and hit records made him an in-demand artist in the Las Vegas circuit, as well as around the globe, including one jaunt he found most memorable—stealing the show as the Beatles' opener in Paris in 1964.

"I used to steal the show from them every night!" he said in a 2014 interview. "The French newspapers would say, 'Bravo, Trini Lopez! Who are the Beatles?'"

Ivan Barias On Silence As Complicity, Holding Major Labels Accountable & How To Be A Non-Black Latinx Ally

Nelly Furtado Press Photo 2024
Nelly Furtado

Photo: Sammy Rawal

interview

Nelly Furtado On How Remix Culture, ADHD & Gen Z Inspired Her New Album '7'

On the heels of announcing her seventh studio set, Nelly Furtado details her emotional return to the studio, and why she's having "more fun than ever" making music.

GRAMMYs/Jul 17, 2024 - 08:31 pm

If you're a millennial, odds are you have fond memories of Nelly Furtado's music. Her early hits are 2000s playlist staples, including her GRAMMY-winning debut single, "I'm Like A Bird," and Timbaland-produced classics "Say It Right," "Maneater" and "Promiscuous."

Yet the Portuguese-Canadian pop auteur is far from a relic of Y2K nostalgia. In the seven years since her last album, 2017's The Ride, Furtado has seen her back catalog resurface in many ways, from remixes in DJ sets to viral TikToks. Not only did the millennial appetite for her music remain, but Gen Z was discovering — and loving — it. And the singer/songwriter took notice.

"I really feel like I was called back to the industry by the industry, especially DJs. I would go out and hear my songs played before arena shows of other artists, and at house parties and clubs," Furtado tells GRAMMY.com. "There was a sense of joy and celebration in it…I thought, This can only be remixed so many times, I better go make some new stuff."

Enter 7, Furtado's aptly titled seventh studio album. Due Sept. 20, 7 is the product of four years of fully immersing herself in the catharsis and connection of the studio. The Canadian songstress is confident and vulnerable across its 14 tracks, showcasing the malleability of her rich voice with a wide range of sounds that result in a fun, largely upbeat collection of songs.

The album's energy is indicative of the freedom and openness Furtado not only felt in the studio — where she crafted over 400 songs during the process — but also in today's musical climate. Furtado has been tapping into the collaborative spirit of the industry, teaming up with friends new and old for her latest material. Producer Dom Dolla helped birth Furtado's first new music since 2017 with the dance floor heater "Eat Your Man," a coy nod to her own "Maneater" that arrived last June; their partnership has also included appearances at Australia's Beyond The Valley festival in 2022, Lollapalooza and Portola Fest in 2023, and Coachella 2024. Along the way, the singer has also linked with past collaborators Timbaland and Justin Timberlake ("Keep Going Up") and Juanes ("Gala y Dalí").

Even 7's first two singles are collaborations: the sultry electronic-fused bop "Love Bites" with dance pop experts Tove Lo and SG Lewis, and the confident anthem "Corazón" with Colombian electro-pop wizards Bomba Estéreo. Along with offering a taste of the joy and sonic breadth of 7, both songs prove that Nelly Furtado isn't just back — she's having more fun than ever.

Read on to hear from the "Maneater" herself about her new album, finding sisterhood with Bomba Estéreo's Li Samuet, leaning into ADHD as a creative superpower, and why she'll never tire of singing "I'm Like A Bird."

You feel really free on your upcoming album, 7. I was curious what sounds and styles you're feeling most excited to explore and lean into now and which ones made it on the album?

That's a good question. When I was touring over the years, you always soundcheck at each venue, which might be this big, beautiful space, like a theater. I love the way the music would come back at me through the big speakers and monitors of a large live space, and it's something I never quite felt in the recording studio.

When I started recording this album four years ago, I started getting a bunch of friends in a room, setting up wedges and monitors and speakers with a bunch of microphones on amps and instruments, recording absolutely everything we're saying and doing. I started recording in Toronto and would invite my friends, and all of a sudden, I found myself spending Friday nights there. It became this very social event with lots of collaborations. I loved the way my voice sounded back at me through the speakers in real time, much like those soundchecks I remembered so fondly.

Halfway through the recording process, I started meeting producers like Dom Dolla. We had reached out to each other because we were going to perform at the same festival, Beyond The Valley in Australia, where I also met SG Lewis. I was blessed to meet these really key collaborators for me who are making great current music I had special connections with. I just felt blessed to be so open.

I grew up learning a spontaneous style of improvisational singing called Desafio from Portugal, where people freestyle on stage together. [We channeled] the spirit of spontaneous freestyling in the studio. I have songs on this album that are freestyles. There's this beat that FnZ did, and I just opened my mouth and sang something, and that's the song. I went back and changed maybe three words and re-sang the vocal. You just kind of open the portal and sing. [Laughs.] For me, this album's really about community and, always, fusion.

Can you speak to how your daughter, as well as seeing Gen Z discovering your music on TikTok, and DJs remixing your songs encouraged and inspired you to go back to the studio?

Oh, that was cool. Dom had been communicating about [his Beyond the Valley] performance because he did a special mashup of "Give it To Me" and [his song] "Take It" that we premiered there. To top that off, he wanted to do the Bicep "Glue"/"Say It Right" [mashup]. He created this whole archway for me to come out and do this dramatic, beautifully received rendition of the song. That was a magical moment I'll never forget.

Four or five years ago, my daughter came home from high school and was like, "Mom, you're trending on TikTok." I didn't know what that meant. I'm not gonna lie; it wasn't until I walked out at Beyond the Valley and saw these Gen Z kids singing all the lyrics to my songs that I really understood the power of social media and TikTok. It was real; new people had discovered me. 

I just went to Stockholm and these kids were so young, singing every word of my old songs, and it blew my mind. I don't even know if they were born when the first records came out. [Laughs.]

I mean, people dressed up like Dom Dolla and I at Lollapalooza for Halloween with my same snake shirt. It was so meta and so cool. I love remix culture and nostalgia culture, and I lean into it. It's just like making a scrapbook.

Did that motivate you to want to make new music?

Oh yeah, are you kidding me?! I really feel like I was called back to the industry by the industry, especially DJs. I would go out and hear my songs played before arena shows of other artists and at house parties and clubs. I heard it in a lot of different contexts, and something clicked for me where I just wanted to have fun and party with my music. There was a sense of joy and celebration in it. People kept remixing all kinds of songs of mine from all my different albums. I thought, This can only be remixed so many times, I better go make some new stuff.

I love meeting artists online and making those connections in real time. I love the current climate of music. I think it is more fun than ever for artists, because we get to be very in the moment and we get to create moments. We get to focus on what we want to, we get to activate different things in our own way and on our own timeline. I connect with so many DJs online.

That's so my vibe; I've always been about collaboration. I feel like the industry is tailor made for artists like me right now who just want to collaborate and vibe out and make friends and have fun. I've always been in it for the music, so it's just so fun to be doing this.

7's second single, "Corazón" featuring Bomba Estéreo, is very confident and celebratory. What was it like working with them and how did that song come together?

"Corazón" started with this very special beat that T-Minus had made for me. He was such a champion of me doing this new project, and really pushed me to make sure I was putting my best foot forward with these new songs. The beat for "Corazón" was already magical, but I needed to find its stamp. [Working on the album] was like mining. You're digging until you see a glimmer, and then you chase it until you [hit] gold.

I co-produced the song and invited Bomba Estéreo to be on it. I brought them to the studio after a concert they had in Toronto. I got off a plane from recording in L.A., went straight to their gig, and embraced Li on stage. I hadn't seen her since I flew to her home on the beach in Santa Marta [Colombia] at the begging of my friend Lido Pimienta, who thought I needed to go meet Li. I'd never met her before [then]. I stayed at her home and met her family. She's an incredible woman. She's really a goddess.

We're at the studio [in Toronto], just eating chicken wings and having some tequila, and magic kind of happens. They're playing all these beautiful parts on their instruments. There, you get the fusion. It becomes something a little bit more than the song was before, and Li has her rap feature on there.

How did bringing Bomba Estéreo into the studio make the "Corazon" into something different?

I just knew it would make it more special. What's really weird is Li and I have another song that's not on this album— that will probably be on the deluxe — called "Corazónes" that we wrote in Colombia. I don't think it's a coincidence that this song is called "Corazón." I think it's some weird subconscious tick. [Laughs.] It was almost like the collaboration was meant to be more than one song.

Colombia made such a huge impression on me. I also spent time in Barranquilla because Lido was filming artwork for a project of hers; we were right in the thick of it in downtown Barranquilla. Li and I wrote a song at her treehouse jungle studio called Papaya Studios in Santa Marta. I really needed that sisterhood at that time. That trip was almost like a woman's retreat.

I just knew Bomba Estéreo needed to be on the song. I wanted [Li] to rap. On "Soy Yo" she's rapping and doing her thing. She's a really amazing rapper. She's an amazing singer and writer too; she's pretty rare. She's in her own lane.

I really connect with how Bomba Estéreo's music has a love vibration that I think is very rare. That's what sets them apart. That's why I knew they had to be a part of this song called "Corazón." They embody that idea.

Can you speak a bit more to the creative process of working on this album, as well as the emotions you were processing through it?

On this album there are some cool moments where I just let the music happen. Something clicked in me the last couple years where I realized it's really quite simple: You just have to enjoy what you're singing.

I was in the studio with Dom Dolla, producer Jim Beanz [who worked on Loose] and singer/songwriter Anjulie [Persaud] in Philly last Valentine's Day. We recorded and wrote "Eat Your Man," a track I put out with Dom last summer. Very early on when we were working on demos, Dom was like, "Why are you pronouncing every word when you sing?" 

There's something to letting yourself relax into the music and just letting it be. I kind of forgot that. In the studio with Dom that day in Philly, it was a real aha moment for me. It was like, Oh man, I remember what this is like, just singing for the joy of it all.

Emotionally, I got into the studio four years ago with a bit of a broken heart. I'd been through a lot in my personal life and I was quite sad. The first day I opened my mouth, I almost felt like I was having a heart attack from the amount of emotion moving through my chest. I had been a stay-at-home mom for about three years straight — my two youngest children were born a year apart — and I didn't go to the studio at all. So that first time back was quite impactful for me. 

That pain quickly turned into joy because I started spending Friday nights at the studio with my friends and collaborators. We would often jam until 7 in the morning. The studio is my happy place. I really learn so much about myself every time I make an album. It's uncanny; I have this moment before I put the album out where I'm almost sad because I have to detach from the process.

I've become overcome with emotion a lot of times making this album, hearing the mixes back and completing songs. I did purge a lot of emotions, but it's amazing how happy the album is. 

I think that comes from the sense of community and really leaning on people I've met along the way. I met moms who make music during this process, like Li and Lido. I'd be coming home from the studio texting them, and they'd be coming off the stage in Holland or Paris and I'd feel so motivated. Community is such a huge part of this album. I loved welcoming that into the mix. It was really fun to make.

How did you take all of that — four years, so many emotions, over 400 songs — and narrow it down into an album? I can't even imagine.

I was diagnosed with ADHD about two years ago, and it was really an aha moment. I've had it my whole life. People always say, "Hey, Nelly, you're so spaced out. Where'd you go?" I got used to people making fun of me for spacing out and used to the procrastination. I [also] got used to the self-judgment and beating myself up about it.

So, getting diagnosed kind of changed my life. It is a superpower in the studio. I can write five songs at once. I can invite so many people. We can have two rooms, sometimes three, going at once and we can keep making stuff all night. So I leaned into the ADHD, embraced it, claimed it — and there we have it, so many songs.

Luckily, I have great people around me, like my engineer, Anthony [Yordanov], really kept me in check. He became that North Star of, "Okay, these are the songs we have. What are we working on today?" Also, my daughter Nevis [Gahunia] is one of the A&Rs on the album. She works in the music business and is very organized. 

I leaned on other people to help me hone it in. I don't know how a bunch of stuff magically becomes 14 songs. It kind of happened by bringing a lot of friends in the studio for these long, fun parties just listening to stuff and everybody being like, "We like this song."

I have a lot of my favorite people on the album. And there's a lot more to come. I really feel like the deluxe [version] is going to be jammed with a bunch more stuff.

It's your seventh album and it's been seven years since your last, but is there any further meaning in naming it 7?

To be totally honest, the songs are all so different. It was the only title that made sense because it's more like a collection. Fashion collections don't really have titles, they're just called collection number 10 or 21. This is my collection seven. 

And yeah, it's been seven years since my last album, and it's my seventh album. I love the simplicity [of the title]. Honestly, sometimes I feel a bit like a music librarian trapped in a pop star body. So it's really appropriate for me to put together this random collection of songs and just call it a number, like a librarian. [Laughs.] Go to the seventh section.

I want to go back to the very beginning, to "I'm Like a Bird," your GRAMMY-winning debut single. How does it feel now when you perform that song you wrote when you were 20?

I wrote it in a little room by myself before [going to] the studio. When I sing it, I love it. It's wild, I love it more every time I sing it. It feels incredible singing that song. 

There are certain songs in my set that almost feel like one big fun karaoke session with the crowd. Who doesn't love that? It's fun every single time.

More Sounds From Latin America & Beyond

John Lennon
John Lennon at Lou Adler's house, 1973

Photo: Yoko Ono

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5 Reasons John Lennon's 'Mind Games' Is Worth Another Shot

John Lennon's 1973 solo album 'Mind Games' never quite got its flowers, aside from its hit title track. A spectacular 2024 remix and expansion is bound to amend its so-so reputation.

GRAMMYs/Jul 11, 2024 - 06:08 pm

As the train of Beatles remixes and expansions — solo or otherwise — chugs along, a fair question might come to mind: why John Lennon's Mind Games, and why now?

When you consider some agreed-upon classics — George Harrison's Living in the Material World, Ringo Starr's Ringo — it might seem like it skipped the line. Historically, fans and critics have rarely made much of Mind Games, mostly viewing it as an album-length shell for its totemic title track. 

The 2020 best-of Lennon compilation Gimme Some Truth: The Ultimate Mixes featured "Mind Games," "Out the Blue," and "I Know (I Know)," which is about right — even in fanatical Lennon circles, few other Mind Games tracks get much shine. It's hard to imagine anyone reaching for it instead of Plastic Ono Band, or Imagine, or even the controversial, semi-outrageous Some Time in New York City.

Granted, these largely aren't A-tier Lennon songs — but still, the album's tepid reputation has little to do with the material. The original Mind Games mix is, to put it charitably, muddy — partly due to Lennon's insecurity about his voice, partly just due to that era of recordmaking.

The fourth-best Picasso is obviously still worth viewing. But not with an inch of grime on your glasses.

John Lennon Mind Games

The Standard Deluxe Edition. Photo courtesy of Universal Music Group

That's all changed with Mind Games: The Ultimate Collection — a fairly gobsmacking makeover of the original album, out July 12. Turns out giving it this treatment was an excellent, long-overdue idea — and producer Sean Ono Lennon, remixers Rob Stevens, Sam Gannon and Paul Hicks were the best men for the job. Outtakes and deconstructed "Elemental" and "Elements" mixes round out the boxed set.

It's not that Mind Games: The Ultimate Collection reveals some sort of masterpiece. The album's still uneven; it was bashed out at New York's Record Plant in a week, and it shows. But that's been revealed to not be its downfall, but its intrinsic charm. As you sift through the expanded collection, consider these reasons you should give Mind Games another shot.

The Songs Are Better Than You Remember

Will deep cuts like "Intuition" or "Meat City" necessarily make your summer playlist? Your mileage may vary. However, a solid handful of songs you may have written off due to murky sonics are excellent Lennon.

With a proper mix, "Aisumasen (I'm Sorry)" absolutely soars — it's Lennon's slow-burning,
Smokey Robinson-style mea culpa to Yoko Ono. "Bring On the Lucie (Freda Peeple)" has a rickety, communal "Give Peace a Chance" energy — and in some ways, it's a stronger song than that pacifist classic.

And on side 2, the mellow, ruminative "I Know (I Know)" and "You Are Here" sparkle — especially the almost Mazzy Star-like latter tune, with pedal steel guitarist "Sneaky" Pete Kleinow (of Flying Burrito Brothers fame) providing abundant atmosphere.

And, of course, the agreed-upon cuts are even better: "Mind Games" sounds more celestial than ever. And the gorgeous, cathartic "Out the Blue" — led by David Spinozza's classical-style playing, with his old pal Paul McCartney rubbing off on the melody — could and should lead any best-of list.

The Performances Are Killer

Part of the fun of Mind Games: The Ultimate Collection is realizing how great its performances are. They're not simply studio wrapping paper; they capture 1970s New York's finest session cats at full tilt.

Those were: Kleinow, Spinozza, keyboardist Ken Ascher, bassist Gordon Edwards, drummer Jim Keltner (sometimes along with Rick Marotta), saxophonist Michael Brecker, and backing vocalists Something Different.

All are blue-chip; the hand-in-glove rhythm section of Edwards and Keltner is especially captivating. (Just listen to Edwards' spectacular use of silence, as he funkily weaves through that title track.)

The hardcover book included in Mind Games: The Ultimate Collection is replete with the musicians' fly-on-the-wall stories from that week at the Record Plant.

"You can hear how much we're all enjoying playing together in those mixes," Keltner says in the book, praising Spinozza and Gordon. "If you're hearing John Lennon's voice in your headphones and the great Kenny Ascher playing John's chords on the keys, there's just no question of where you're going and how you're going to get there."

It Captures A Fascinating Moment In Time

"Mind Games to me was like an interim record between being a manic political lunatic to back to being a musician again," Lennon stated, according to the book. "It's a political album or an introspective album. Someone told me it was like Imagine with balls, which I liked a lot."

This creative transition reflects the upheaval in Lennon's life at the time. He no longer had Phil Spector to produce; Mind Games was his first self-production. He was struggling to stay in the country, while Nixon wanted him and his message firmly out.

Plus, Lennon recorded it a few months before his 18-month separation from Ono began — the mythologized "Lost Weekend" that was actually a creatively flourishing time. All of this gives the exhaustive Mind Games: The Ultimate Collection historical weight, on top of listening pleasure.

"[It's important to] get as complete a revealing of it as possible," Stevens, who handled the Raw Studio Mixes, tells GRAMMY.com. "Because nobody's going to be able to do it in 30 years."

John Lennon Yoko Ono

John Lennon and Yoko Ono in Central Park, 1973. Photo: Bob Gruen

Moments Of Inspired Weirdness Abound

Four seconds of silence titled the "Nutopian International Anthem." A messy slab of blues rock with refrains of "Fingerlickin', chicken-pickin'" and "Chickin-suckin', mother-truckin'." The country-fried "Tight A$," basically one long double entendre.

To put it simply, you can't find such heavy concentrates of Lennonesque nuttiness on more commercial works like Imagine. Sometimes the outliers get under your skin just the same.

Read more: We've Thrown Everything We Could At John Lennon's "Imagine." The Song Nonetheless Endures 50 Years Later.

It's Never Sounded Better

"It's a little harsh, a little compressed," Stevens says of the original 1973 mix. "The sound's a little bit off-putting, so maybe you dismiss listening to it, in a different head. Which is why the record might not have gotten its due back then."

As such, in 2024 it's revelatory to hear Edwards' basslines so plump, Keltner's kick so defined, Ascher's lines so crystalline. When Spinozza rips into that "Aisumasen" solo, it absolutely penetrates. And, as always with these Lennon remixes, the man's voice is prioritized, and placed front and center. It doesn't dispose of the effects Lennon insecurely desired; it clarifies them.

"I get so enthusiastic," Ascher says about listening to Mind Games: The Ultimate Collection. "I say, 'Well, that could have been a hit. This could have been a hit. No, this one could have been a hit, this one." Yes is the answer.

HARDY Press Photo 2024
HARDY

Photo: Robby Klein

interview

HARDY On New Album 'Quit!!' & How "Trying To Push My Own Boundaries" Has Paid Off

On his third album, the self-described "black sheep" of country music proves he's here to stay.

GRAMMYs/Jul 11, 2024 - 04:04 pm

Haters take note: nothing fires up a country boy like HARDY more than a naysayer. And this redneck has a long memory.

Despite the coveted catalog of country music hits to his credit — tunes he wrote for artists like Florida Georgia Line, Blake Shelton and Morgan Wallen, plus his own work as a solo artist — HARDY's third album begins with a three-minute response to a heckler who once left a nasty note in his jar in place of a tip.

That moment may have occurred a decade ago, but it's key to HARDY's defiant persona. In fact, the album's title is exactly what that note read — Quit!! — and its cover art is the actual napkin the message was written on, which the singer/songwriter has held on to all these years.

HARDY laughs off the memory at first, but as the title track plays on, his olive branch soon turns to coal. "I'm not the GOAT, I'm the black sheep hell-bent to find closure," he barks as the song escalates. "I can't let go — a note somebody wrote like ten years ago put a chip on my shoulder. If you wanted me to quit, you should've saved it, bro."

The takeaway here? HARDY won't quit. Or, to quote another Quit!! banger, "I DON'T MISS," when a hit is in the crosshairs, he "don't hit nothing but the bull's eye."

No doubt, he has the numbers to back it up. HARDY linked up with Florida Georgia Line after moving to Nashville in the 2010s, and landed his first country No. 1 as a songwriter in 2018 thanks to the duo and Wallen, with the smash "Up Down." As he began building a solo career — releasing a pair of EPs in 2018 (This Ole Boy) and 2019 (Where to Find Me) — he continued delivering chart-topping hits for FGL, Shelton, LOCASH, Wallen, Dierks Bentley, and more. As Quit!! arrives, HARDY boasts 15 No. 1 hits: 11 as a songwriter, and four as an artist.

Along the way, HARDY also established his Hixtape series, a countrified version of a hip-hop mixtape now three volumes deep, bringing together friends and superstars like Keith Urban, Trace Adkins, Thomas Rhett and a host of other stars to collaborate. Not only did Hixtape Vol. 1 land HARDY his first No. 1 as an artist in his own right — the Lauren Alaina and Devin Dawson team-up "ONE BEER" — but it put HARDY's shapeshifting musicality front and center.

"A lot of people ask, 'When did you decide to jump into the rock and roll thing?' HARDY, who uses his last name as his stage name, says. "I feel like I've always dipped my toes in it here and there, and a lot of my songs have been really close to it but not quite there. Hixtape, especially Vol. 1, I was definitely foreshadowing my sound, and I really didn't even know it at the time."

By now, modern country musicians regularly reflect influences from beyond Nashville's confines. But HARDY has played a big role in rock's country crossover, as he gradually showed more of his Mississippi-bred, guitar-riffing roots on his 2020 debut album, A ROCK. He fully embraced them on the 2023 double album, the mockingbird & THE CROW; while the first half has more country-oriented tunes like the Lainey Wilson-featuring murder ballad "wait in the truck," he lets loose on THE CROW.

"THE CROW will always be that cornerstone moment that defined who I am," he asserts. "It gave me the courage to do this Quit!! record."

HARDY has not only been an architect of this genre blending, but also its chief proponent — so much that in 2023, the L.A. Times crowned him "Nashville's nu-metal king." On Quit!!, he cashes in that currency with the gargantuan guitar riffs and bombastic beats popularized by acts like Limp Bizkit, and leans deeper into the rhythms and playful lyricism of hip-hop, a skill he recently flexed at the request of Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre on a hicked-up rendition of Snoop Dogg's G-funk classic "Gin and Juice."

Ironically, the further HARDY gets from straightforward country music, the closer he gets to who he really is as an artist. Below, the chart-topping star details the backstory of Quit!!, his conflicted relationship with the country-music formula, and how he'll continue pushing boundaries within the genre and beyond.  

You grew up in the small town of Philadelphia, Mississippi. What role did music play in your upbringing?

My dad introduced me to rock and roll in general, but it was his era of rock and roll. Whatever you define as classic rock and everything under that umbrella. But music was a big deal in Philadelphia and it still is. There were tons of cover bands, and a lot of [my] buddies were into music. So that had a big influence on me. 

I, thankfully, was in that last era of kids that the only time they got to hear a song was on MTV or on the radio. And I remember hearing "In the End" [by] Linkin Park, and then getting Hybrid Theory on CD. I remember the first time I saw [Limp Bizkit's] "Nookie" video on MTV. I was heavily influenced by all that stuff. I'm very thankful that I grew up in the era before the internet was really big.

Were you into country music back then?

Surprisingly, not at all. Not until Eric Church, Brad Paisley, a couple of people started singing about stuff that really piqued my interest. But no, I didn't really listen to much country. 

I think the only country that I listened to, if you even call it that, was Charlie Daniels. He played at the Neshoba County Fair. I got to see him twice. But even he was more of, like, you'd almost call it more Southern rock. For some reason, country music at the time didn't do it for me. It took me a long time to get into it.

You recently re-envisioned "Gin and Juice." Were Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre big artists for you when you were younger?

Yeah, especially Snoop. Snoop was in his later years when he started doing more pop stuff. I was a little too young for Doggystyle. I was 4 years old when Doggystyle came out, so my folks weren't letting me listen to that. But I will say, [Dr. Dre's 1992 album] The Chronic and especially [1999's] Chronic II, those records were huge. And anything that Dre touched after that, like all the beats he produced for 50 Cent, and obviously I'm a huge Eminem fan. I mean, all the way up to Kendrick [Lamar]'s early stuff.

I don't know how much they influenced me musically, but I definitely listened to both of them at the time.

You've got so many projects and co-writes and stuff going on, always. Is it easy to pinpoint where your journey to Quit!! began?

I can tell you for a stone-cold fact that "BOOTS" [from A ROCK] is responsible for the album Quit!! That was the first song that I ever wrote that had a breakdown in it. And when I played that live before it came out, people didn't know it, so it was a little different then. But once the song came out, and we started playing it live, it was bigger than "ONE BEER." It was bigger than "REDNECKER." It was the biggest song in our set, and to this day, it's still one of the biggest songs in the set. 

But because I love the rock and roll sound so much, that's the song that I was like, Okay, this is working, because these people are losing their s— when we go into this song. So, then, that inspired me to write "SOLD OUT," and once "SOLD OUT" came out, and we started playing that song, that song was even bigger than "BOOTS," and it was heavier than "BOOTS." After "SOLD OUT," it was "JACK," and it's just a snowball of writing heavier songs and having the courage to keep going. "BOOTS" crawled so that Quit!! could run, you know? That was definitely the song that started it all.

The new album builds on the mockingbird & THE CROW and the direction you were heading.

Yeah, I think it builds on it maybe in the sense that there's a lot more screams, and maybe more breakdowns, and it's a little heavier than the mockingbird & THE CROW at times. But it is also very different. There's a lot more, like, pop-punk stuff and, I don't even know what you would call it, post-hardcore-sounding s—. 

But all of the rock and roll stuff stands on the shoulders of THE CROW. It will always be that cornerstone moment that defined who I am. I mean, it definitely teed me up. It gave me the courage to do this Quit!! record.

I like that word, courage. It's not a word I expected to hear out of you based on your persona, but that's a very interesting way to phrase it.

No, I mean, the metal and country cultures are very, very, very different. There's never fear, but there's definitely, what's the right way to say that? You know, there's like when we throw like the goat horns and s— on the screen. Country has a big Christian background, and metal is like the exact opposite of that, and those can clash a lot, but there's definitely a little bit of some reserve — it seems to not get too much push back — mixing the two. My mom's not crazy about it, but what can you do?

And you have moments like "wait in the truck," where you're not writing for the party. Do you see yourself pursuing those avenues more often? Does the world want to hear HARDY reflect?

You mean like more of the deeper country stuff?

Correct, yeah.

I hope. That's the s— I love. I feel like they're so few and far between. Like, "wait in the truck," we just got so lucky. I feel like "ONE BEER" was kind of the same. Like, it's gotta be the right day, and the right time, and the right people in the room to really tell a story. It's tough. But I would love to continue to have those cool story songs. 

But what I will say is there's a lot of gray area between the black-and-white of HARDY country and HARDY rock and roll. I'm still going to put out country songs. The gray area is that to me and to a lot of people, they're all just HARDY songs. But I have so many songs that I have written that I wanna put out that are so, maybe if they're not storylines, they're even deeper down the rabbit hole of thought-provoking stuff, like "A ROCK," or maybe even "wait in the truck," or even a song I have called "happy," on the last record — just songs that are very, very thought-provoking. 

Just trying to push my own boundaries of country music, and not everything is right down the gut, you know, "let's go to radio with it." But just really trying to experiment with what I wanna say with country music. So, yes, there's definitely more of that coming.

You're playing your first headlining stadium gig in September. How has performing in those venues, and anticipating that, informed how you write? Are you writing for the stage?

Yeah, 100 percent. I would say, 75 percent of the time you're writing for the stage — even if it's not for myself, if I'm writing for somebody else — I'm definitely writing for the stage. I cannot tell you how many times I've sat in the room and been like, This s— is going to pop off live! And then try to put the other writers in that headspace.

Like on [Quit!! track] "JIM BOB," when we did the pow-pow-pow! thing, I'm like, just think about how cool it's gonna be live, and living in that headspace, because that's where it all comes to life. That's the end product.

Writing for the stage is something that a lot of people do. And that's why songwriters love going out on the road, is because they go out and they write songs with these artists, but they love watching the show because they get to see what really translates live, and then take that back to the writing room and try to recreate that.

Did that kind of experience have anything to do with you making the move to a marquee artist? Because not all songwriters can make that jump. Or was that always the plan?

Yeah, I mean, it was always that kind of thing. I was fortunate that I got to see Morgan [Wallen] perform "Up Down," and FGL perform a couple of their songs before I made the jump into an artist. I kind of already scratched that itch a little bit. 

The Nashville writing scene can seem like a 9-to-5 kind of boring thing. But it doesn't sound that way from the way you describe it.

It's a little bit of both. The funny thing about that is like, if you walk into a publishing company, 10:30, 11 o'clock, whenever people start getting there, it's a bunch of dudes or girls standing around drinking coffee, hanging out. It's like a break room, and then everybody's like, "All right, well, y'all get a good one." And then everybody goes into their own rooms. That part of it is very 9 to 5. 

But there is definitely — especially with our group of people, when you get on something that is so special, it's beyond, like, "We're writing a hit today." There's just something that transcends that. I don't know how to describe it, man. That's when it's really, really, really, really great. The Nashville process, that's what it's all about — having those moments in the room where you're like, "This is special," and, like, "We're witnessing something special that is going to affect people on a global or on a nationwide scale." 

I remember when we wrote "wait In the truck" and how we were all just gassing each other up because we were like, "Dude, this song is gonna help a lot of people." And that's when the 9 to 5 goes away. We're being creative together, and it's a special thing. 

There's been so many moments like that, where you're just so thankful to be a part of a great song, and how hyped everybody is. It's a feeling that's really, really hard to beat. 

More Of The Latest Country News & Music

The Beatles in 1964
The Beatles on the set of 'A Hard Day's Night' in 1964

Photo: Archive Photos/Getty Images

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'A Hard Day's Night' Turns 60: 6 Things You Can Thank The Beatles Film & Soundtrack For

This week in 1964, the Beatles changed the world with their iconic debut film, and its fresh, exuberant soundtrack. If you like music videos, folk-rock and the song "Layla," thank 'A Hard Day's Night.'

GRAMMYs/Jul 10, 2024 - 02:13 pm

Throughout his ongoing Got Back tour, Paul McCartney has reliably opened with "Can't Buy Me Love."

It's not the Beatles' deepest song, nor their most beloved hit — though a hit it was. But its zippy, rollicking exuberance still shines brightly; like the rest of the oldies on his setlist, the 82-year-old launches into it in its original key. For two minutes and change, we're plunged back into 1964 — and all the humor, melody, friendship and fun the Beatles bestowed with A Hard Day's Night.

This week in 1964 — at the zenith of Beatlemania, after their seismic appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" — the planet received Richard Lester's silly, surreal and innovative film of that name. Days after, its classic soundtrack dropped — a volley of uber-catchy bangers and philosophical ballads, and the only Beatles LP to solely feature Lennon-McCartney songs.

As with almost everything Beatles, the impact of the film and album have been etched in stone. But considering the breadth of pop culture history in its wake, Fab disciples can always use a reminder. Here are six things that wouldn't be the same without A Hard Day's Night.

All Music Videos, Forever

Right from that starting gun of an opening chord, A Hard Day's Night's camerawork alone — black and white, inspired by French New Wave and British kitchen sink dramas — pioneers everything from British spy thrillers to "The Monkees."

Across the film's 87 minutes, you're viscerally dragged into the action; you tumble through the cityscapes right along with John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Not to mention the entire music video revolution; techniques we think of as stock were brand-new here.

According to Roger Ebert: "Today when we watch TV and see quick cutting, hand-held cameras, interviews conducted on the run with moving targets, quickly intercut snatches of dialogue, music under documentary action and all the other trademarks of the modern style, we are looking at the children of A Hard Day's Night."

Emergent Folk-Rock

George Harrison's 12-string Rickenbacker didn't just lend itself to a jangly undercurrent on the A Hard Day's Night songs; the shots of Harrison playing it galvanized Roger McGuinn to pick up the futuristic instrument — and via the Byrds, give the folk canon a welcome jolt of electricity.

Entire reams of alternative rock, post-punk, power pop, indie rock, and more would follow — and if any of those mean anything to you, partly thank Lester for casting a spotlight on that Rick.

Read more: Living Legends: Roger McGuinn On The History Of The Byrds, His One-Man Show And Editing His Own Wikipedia Page

The Ultimate Love Triangle Jam

From the Byrds' "Triad" to Leonard Cohen's "Famous Blue Raincoat," music history is replete with odes to love triangles.

But none are as desperate, as mannish, as garment-rending, as Derek and the Dominoes' "Layla," where Eric Clapton lays bare his affections for his friend Harrison's wife, Pattie Boyd. Where did Harrison meet her? Why, on the set of A Hard Day's Night, where she was cast as a schoolgirl.

Debates, Debates, Debates

Say, what is that famous, clamorous opening chord of A Hard Day's Night's title track? Turns out YouTube's still trying to suss that one out.

"It is F with a G on top, but you'll have to ask Paul about the bass note to get the proper story," Harrison told an online chat in 2001 — the last year of his life.

A Certain Strain Of Loopy Humor

No wonder Harrison got in with Monty Python later in life: the effortlessly witty lads were born to play these roles — mostly a tumble of non sequiturs, one-liners and daffy retorts. (They were all brought up on the Goons, after all.) When A Hard Day's Night codified their Liverpudlian slant on everything, everyone from the Pythons to Tim and Eric received their blueprint.

The Legitimacy Of The Rock Flick

What did rock 'n' roll contribute to the film canon before the Beatles? A stream of lightweight Elvis flicks? Granted, the Beatles would churn out a few headscratchers in its wake — Magical Mystery Tour, anyone? — but A Hard Day's Night remains a game-changer for guitar boys on screen.

The best part? The Beatles would go on to change the game again, and again, and again, in so many ways. Don't say they didn't warn you — as you revisit the iconic A Hard Day's Night.

Explore The World Of The Beatles