The re-emergence of the 90s country in country music these days has been more than welcome. Fiddle and steel are coming back in a big way, and artists have been more than happy to tip their caps to the influences that shaped their sound.
Hershell Golden is no different. With three successful single releases under his belt in the first quarter of the year, and now a new single, “Hello Honky Tonk” in September, Golden has been left humbled by the response he’s received so far.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the reaction I’ve received from these four songs this year,” says Golden. “It’s really beyond my biggest imagination the amount of support and positive feedback I’ve gotten from them. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to get things started!”
If the title of Golden’s new single looks familiar, that may be because you remember Mark Chesnutt’s version Ron Harbin, Kim Williams and L. David Lewis penned tune, released on Chesnutt’s 1997 Thank God for Believers album. Golden says he was drawn to the instrumentation of the song, and received a little help from Pro Country in choosing to record “Hello Honky Tonk” himself.
“Justin, to be quite honest, you had a huge influence behind me recording this cover. I read an article you wrote earlier this year, and you mentioned that two of your favorite songs were ‘Hello Honky Tonk’ and ‘Numbers On The Jukebox.’ I thought to myself, ‘Man I need to re-listen to these songs because I remembered always liking them.’ So I did,” says Golden.” “I knew as soon as ‘Hello Honky Tonk’ finished exactly why I always liked it. It has a cool piano intro that feeds into a driving honky tonk groove, a modulation and tag at the end. This song really has everything a country song could have in it. I’m not much on recording covers and may never record one again, but I knew I wanted to give this one a shot. Mark Chesnutt did an amazing job with it, I just hope I did it a little justice.”
Though he wanted to make the track his own, Golden says it was important for him to keep the essence of Chesnutt’s version in mind, and kept his 90s country influence at the forefront in the studio.
“The last thing I ever wanted to do was change up what made this song so great to begin with. I recorded it at my friend Stormy Cooper’s studio in Houston, and he also played bass on the track. We both agreed to keep it very similar to the original track. Same key, same tempo, but for each musician on it to add a little of their own flare to it,” says Golden. “The guys did exactly that, and I love the way it turned out. 90’s country had a huge impact on me and people point it out at many of my shows. It really carved most of my sound.”
One noticeable shift from Golden’s first three singles is that Golden slightly veered from the acoustic-driven sound he had established, leaning more into an electric-driven, upbeat song, allowing it to explode through the speakers and keeping the song’s melody driving and infectious.
“I think most of the reason the first three have a similar, distinctive acoustic sound is because I wrote all three. I’ve never had much of a knack with writing upbeat, electric country songs, which was yet another reason I felt impelled to cut this tune,” says Golden. “The guitar track is country to the bone with that modern tone, I really couldn’t be more happy with how it turned out.”
As the end of 2020 continues to draw closer, Golden says he plans to continue writing and recording with hopes of tapping into what made Chesnutt’s “Hello Honky Tonk” so memorable.
“The rest of 2020 I’m gonna spend promoting my second release to Texas radio, ‘I’ve Got It Good’ and definitely pick the pen up and focus on writing more originals to take to the studio,” says Golden. ‘Hopefully one day I can write a song near as good as ‘Hello Honky Tonk’ and sing it as good as Mr. Chesnutt did.”
*”Hello Honky Tonk” is featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!*