Will Hoge knows all about the middle of America. A road warrior since the late Nineties, he’s crisscrossed the country more times than he can recall, playing everywhere from dive bars to the Grand Ole Opry. On his latest single, “Middle of America,” he sings about the archetypical people who seem to populate every small town he comes across: the bar band playing cover songs for tips and free beer, the soldier cutting loose after wrapping up a long tour of duty, the heartbroken girl who’s just found out her boyfriend’s been unfaithful. All of those characters makes appearances in the song’s new music video. (Watch above.)
Filmed in one continuous take with a single camera, the “Middle of America” clip follows Hoge on a three-and-a-half minute tour of downtown Gallatin, Tennessee, less than an hour’s drive from his own hometown of Franklin. Traveling by foot and by 1961 Chevrolet Impala, he visits the local tattoo parlor and the neighborhood pizza place, where he grabs a Telecaster and hops onstage to play a quick guitar solo. The video ends with a wide shot of Hoge, armed clasped behind his back, while the lights of Gallatin’s historic square glimmer and glow in the background.
Earlier this year, Hoge invited Rolling Stone Country into Nashville’s historic RCA Studio A, where he recorded “Middle of America” with producer Marshall Altman. It was Altman who convinced Hoge to hold on to the song, which had been co-written with songwriters Jessi Alexander and Tommy Lee James. The original plan was to shop the song to various Nashville-based publishing houses, in the hopes that a major country artist would chose to record it.
“I wasn’t expecting to write a song for me,” Hoge admitted. “We were just trying to write a great song, and as it went on, I started getting more and more attached to it. There’s always that moment of, ‘Do I want to keep this song for myself because I think it’s really great, or do I want to send it to Blake Shelton and make a whole bunch of money off of it? Maybe he’ll want it.’ It’s a strange place to be, but I’m pragmatic enough to know that sometimes that’s the right play.”
The as-yet-untitled album — which follows the release of Hoge’s first Top 40 record, 2013’s Never Give In — is due out in early 2015. Meanwhile, Hoge will wrap up 2014 with a handful of East Coast shows, followed in January by a five-day stint on the annual Rock Boat cruise.