"Home," a song that speaks to where the country is and who we are in troubled times, is the new single from country music star Dierks Bentley. In an interview with All Things Considered host Melissa Block, Bentley says the song came to him during the writing process, that he "[mumbled his] way into a hook." But, as Bentley says, patriotic songs are hard to write.
"When we had that line — 'the place we all call home' — it's like, 'Wow, we're definitely gonna bite off a big one here,' " Bentley says. "This is a tough song to finish the right way that isn't polarizing, isn't chest-beating, [but] is relatable to everybody. It's such a diverse country, and you want something that reaches out to everybody. And hopefully, at the end of the day, when we were writing the song, once we started getting into it — you want this to be inspiring and hopeful, but also address the realities of what's going on.
"I think the first thing I thought of when we started writing it was the shooting that happened in Tucson, Ariz., with [U.S. Rep.] Gabby Giffords," Bentley adds. "That had happened about four days earlier. That, for me, my home state — that invokes so many different feelings of anger and questions of why. And also, of course, the healing process. It all kind of came together in this song."
In the patriotic country songs following the events of Sept. 11, 2001, there was often a tone of "us vs. them." Bentley says he was just trying to write a song that was honest.
"It easy to sell something just saying, 'We're No. 1,' " Bentley says. "It feels good, but it's not necessarily truthful or really helpful. But I think, in the end, it makes it honest. And country music has always been about honesty. That's what makes it great."