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Darius Rucker: Five Songs That Changed The Way I Heard Music

Country hitmaker and Hootie leader recalls the pivotal songs from his past that shaped his world

Darius Rucker: Five Songs That Changed The Way I Heard Music

Darius Rucker recalls five songs that shaped his musical worldview.

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Darius Rucker may be best known for his 1990s work with Hootie and the Blowfish and his string of mega country hits over the past decade, but he loves everything from 1970s soul to 1980s alternative rock to 1990s hip-hop. As he preps for his upcoming summer tour with Lady Antebellum and a one-off Hootie reunion for Jason Aldean’s July 21st Atlanta blowout, Rucker got on the phone with us to break down five pivotal songs that forever shaped the way he hears music. 

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“Mary and Omie,” Nanci Griffith

I was working retail around 1988, playing in the band on weekends and selling records Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I go into work one day and one of my co-workers puts on this Nanci Griffith record. I’d never heard her before. I’m walking to the back and I’m listening to this song. I get halfway to the back with my backpack and everything and I just stand in my tracks. I then turn around and walk back up front and go, “Let me see that record. How have I not been listening to this my whole life?” Her songwriting is so crazy, her vocals are so crazy, the production on that song is incredible. 

The reason that song is so great is because she’s telling this whole story of a post-Depression black family who lives in the Deep South and moves to Texas. Nanci is something special. She’s also one of the reasons I’m singing in country music today. When I heard that song I thought to myself, “I’m missing something.” Back then I was listening to so much alternative music like Hüsker Dü and the Smithereens and not much else. But “Mary and Omie” made me realize I should be listening to a lot more country music. I put it on almost every playlist I have. I get that song and I get Nanci. 

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