“Well if the good lord had not intended for me to partake of the hookers and cocaine, he would not have blessed them with creation,” says a fictional pastor to the anchor of “Cox News” at the beginning of Will Hoge’s new video for “Gilded Walls.” Taking on the hypocrisy and poisonous rhetoric of Fox News and the Trump administration, “Gilded Walls,” off Hoge’s new LP My American Dream, doesn’t mince words, and that’s the point. As Flint’s residents still lack clean water and the country endures act after act of gun violence (with nothing but “Thoughts and Prayers,” another one of Hoge’s songs, offered), it’s time someone took a stand and told the truth. On My American Dream, Hoge does just that.
Filmed outside of Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena with some protesters in tow (sporting signs that say “No Human Is Illegal” and “Black Lives Matter”), Hoge and his band play while a man in a Trump mask fumbles around gleefully — and “Cox News” offers their #MAGA commentary.
“My youngest son wrote a note the morning after the election,” Hoge tells Rolling Stone Country about waking up on November 9th, 2016. “He wrote, ‘I don’t understand why we would let a mean person become president.’ It was an innocent letter, by a six and a half year old. And I don’t have any good answers. But from there, thinking about their future was a huge thing for me. And it sounds stupid to say, but there was so much positive shit that started. The Woman’s March, all these different things. That’s what really inspires me. People doing more than they have to.”
Hoge himself has been working to raise awareness about gun violence and push for change by working with Everytown for Gun Safety, and is outspoken on his social media platforms. On October 27th, after the tragedy at a Pittsburgh synagogue, he posted a picture of himself in a corduroy jacket adorned with a Star of David in pink tape. This one was personal, too, as Hoge’s mother is Jewish (and therefore, per Jewish law, so is Hoge).
“My mom grew up in Nashville unable to join a country club, because they wouldn’t let Jews in,” he says. But Hoge doesn’t need stories of suffering to be personal to care, and that’s the essence of My American Dream — we’re in an empathy crisis, and it’s time to care about more than our own personal comfort, and for those in charge to look beyond their “Gilded Walls.”
“And the better you are at empathy,” says Hoge, “the better you are as a writer.”