Songwriter Spotlight: Dallas Davidson Says He’s Just ‘Misunderstood’
“I can honestly say I used to let it bother me,” Davidson says, noting it was particularly galling that he felt his critics never sought out the songs that might give him more credibility as a writer in their eyes — the album cuts or singles that are worlds away from his bro-country hit list. “They don’t want to hear the stuff they would actually appreciate,” he adds, listing “I Don’t Dance” by Lee Brice, “Just a Kiss” by Lady Antebellum, “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away” by Justin Moore, and “Touchdown Jesus” by Tim McGraw as among the more substantive. “People forget all about that stuff, quickly.”
When two lesser-known Frankie Ballard tracks — “Sober Me Up” and “Tell Me You Get Lonely” — are mentioned as evidence that Davidson isn’t strictly about tailgates and dirt roads, he agrees. “They’re a little grittier and more representative of who I am if I was to be an artist, but they’re not commercial. I don’t make money off of those songs unfortunately. I’ve got to write ‘Country Girl (Shake It for Me)’ if I’m going to get paid,” he says.
The big pile of money he has made surely helps soften any critical blows, but on that financial point he only laughs and offers, “I have no comment on that.” Davidson says that he understands all of his songs may not be for everyone, but is glad that they have reached an appreciative audience.
“He’s a big reason I moved to town,” says Cole Swindell, who hails from the same part of Georgia as Davidson and Bryan. “I remember being with him the night before he moved and thinking, ‘This guy is crazy, he’s moving to Nashville.’ And then look what he did. He works so hard, and he’s a fun person to be around. Whether it’s a serious song or a fun song, all of his songs make you feel something.”
If Davidson believes he was misunderstood previously, he’s about to further complicate his image with “Country Boy Swagger,” his forthcoming release as a performing artist. It will either be an EP or full album, out later this year, that collects the collaborative songs that Davidson recorded with a group of hip-hop artists last fall, including Mannie Fresh, Mystikal and Big Boi. The Outkast member appears on Davidson’s upcoming single “Laid Back,” out Friday. The piano and beat-heavy track sounds like a bizarre but catchy mash-up of Bruce Hornsby and Uncle Kracker, features Davidson and Maggie Rose on vocals, and a provocative rap interlude from Big Boi.
“I know, right, what am I doing?” asks Davidson, chuckling about the always polarizing concept of combining country and hip-hop. But for the love-him-or-hate-him songwriter, creativity is all about doing what he wants — without worrying about who understands.
We asked Davidson to reflect on some of his songs, from Bryan’s new single to the notorious “Badonkadonk.”
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