Story Behind the Song: Whitey Morgan and the 78s, ‘Honky Tonk Hell’
Whitey Morgan and the 78s' project Hard Times and White Lines takes on a new musical scope for the country outlaw group, which frontman Morgan says is a jump up both sonically and lyrically. The project's first single, "Honky Tonk Hell," exemplifies both his desire to perfect every aspect of the music and also his drive to record it right away.
Read on to learn the full story behind "Honky Tonk Hell."
It was pretty much written with this kid [Jason Hursey]. He had one of his buddies cut a demo to send to me. I listened to it once, and I basically said, "I love the vibe of the song, but a lot of the lyrics gotta go. A lot of the lyrics don't make much sense."
It was a little too simple. It wasn't broad enough. It didn't leave enough to the imagination. So I needed to take those lyrics and make them a little more broad, maybe not coming right out and saying what it meant but letting 'em figure it out. That's kind of what happened with that song.
We were at Sonic Ranch [recording studio, in Texas], when it happened. We were getting ready to cut some other stuff that day, and I sat down with my guitar. That song only has three chords in it, so it's the same chords over and over again, so I just kind of played through it, started with some of his lyrics, and started writing how I felt about the song.
What he had and what I came up with, I think they worked perfectly together. After lunch, I'd already had most of my part of it written, and I came up with that ... intro, and that was it: We had a song. We cut it after lunch that day.
The guys had never heard the song, so we had to figure out those drum hits, and I wasn't even sure if I liked the key I was singing it in, so we switched that a couple of times, but it was definitely one of those songs that came together a lot faster than I'm used to songs coming together. Right away, I knew I wanted to record it, so, for once, I didn't procrastinate and just did the work right then and there. And I think that was the right move, instead of letting it just sit too long and me maybe forgetting about the few good ideas I had right away.
Sometimes it's good to go ahead and just finish things, so you don't sit on those things and maybe let 'em grow a little stagnant and uninteresting. When you go to try to remember them later, they're never as good as right when you came up with them.