It’s often said that songs about real life and real feelings are the best songs. Those songs are calling cards in the country music world.
Just over a year removed from the release of his debut album Folks Like Me and You, Hunter Thomas Mounce is back with “Kindergarten Rodeo Clown,” a song about his first friend who passed away unexpectedly in 2014.
“Kindergarten Rodeo Clown” is Mounce’s first release following the success of Folks Like Me and You, which earned over 200,000 combined Spotify streams and landed him on a curated Spotify playlist for the first time.
“That was really exciting for me. For the first three or four years I had music out, I had like 400 listeners, and I wondered if I would ever break past that. To see more and more people listening, and then on top of that, getting on a major Spotify playlist, that meant a lot to me,” says Mounce. “I’m also very enthusiastic because I know that the best music I have to offer is still coming down the pipe.”
With his new single, Mounce pays tribute to his first friend, Dakota, and the relationship they formed as they went through life together in their early years before eventually drifting apart as they grew older.
“Dakota was my first friend when I moved into the house I grew up in in 1999. Him and I were the only two boys in a Kindergarten class of about seven people. Him and I did everything together including fishing, riding four wheeler‘s and hunting, just to name a few,” says Mounce. “This was so valuable to me because I learned early on what it takes to develop a strong companionship with somebody, and even though we drifted apart in high school, we always still cared for one another. When he unexpectedly passed away in 2014, it definitely crushed me along with the rest of my small town.”
Mounce took the song’s title to Joe Costa, a talented writer in his own write and half of Joe + Martina, and the two of them brought it to life.
“Joe Costa is a very talented writer and an established one at that. Also, he is from a farming community in California, and I knew he knew a ton about the rodeo world. With all of that knowledge I had of him and his abilities, I knew there was no one better to write the song with,” says Mounce. “I appreciate his open mindedness, because that title is one that most people would just shrug off, but he understood completely.”
About a month before the song’s release, Mounce published an acoustic performance of the song on his Facebook page, which was met with incredible praise and showed Mounce that songs that come from a real place tend to resonate with listeners.
“Kindergarten Rodeo Clown” is the most personal song I have ever written. In the back of your mind, you always wonder if people are going to love songs like these as much as you do. When you write a song that is so close to your heart, you just want people to care about it in the same way you do. I feel very blessed that people responded the way they did,” says Mounce. “Honestly, this is a song I put out for myself, Dakota and Dakota’s family. Everyone else loving it is a great bonus though!”
Along with the emotional impact of the song, Mounce feels a sense of “completeness” with his new single that he has never felt before with his music; several years after the title was conceived, the song is now his favorite song he has written.
“This song is so special to me because it is the first time I’ve ever written a song where I truly thought the job got done 100% effectively. I always wondered if I would have a song that would be this authentic and this true to real life, and just mentally, it was a huge relief to find out that I had the ability to conceptualize and bring a story like this to life,” says Mounce. “I had this title for three or four years, and I always wanted to write it, but I never could figure out how. When you write a song for somebody that meant that much to you, you want it to be perfect, and thanks to Joe, I think we did a pretty damn good job of that.”
As the world navigates through a tough first half of 2020, Mounce says he is keeping things in perspective and that he looks forward to coming out of it better than he went in.
“2020 has been a whirlwind for sure. I’m just trying to focus on the things that I can control, and I want to make sure that I never feel sorry for myself, because there are a lot of people hurting a lot worse than I am,” says Mounce. “I know that everybody will get through this year, and once it is behind us, I think we will all be better for it.”
Mounce is also encouraged by the new music his is working on and feels that he is honing in his artistic voice and identity more than ever before.
“Be on the lookout for new stuff. I feel like I am finally finding my style and voice now more than ever,” says Mounce. “I just want to say thank you to everybody who has been along for the ride so far. You inspire me to keep working at this goal daily.”
*Images courtesy of Hunter Thomas Mounce Facebook Page*