I must confess, when I stumbled upon Hillbilly Vegas a few weeks ago, I didn’t know what to expect.
As I looked at the name, I imagined Duck Dynasty meets the guys from Pawn Stars. In reality, after checking out their website, and listening to a ton of their music, I’ve found them to be more of a mixture of Blackhawk, Bon Jovi and John Mellencamp. Sounds good, right?
They intrigued me and I can say that I’ve been listening to their upcoming single, “Long Way Back”, on repeat for the last 8 hours straight (and I’m still not tired of it). From the vocals of lead singer Steve Harris, to the guitar work of Johnny Reed, as well as the rest of the band including Troy Hollinger, Robb Edwards and Stacey Thornburg, this song, which was co-written by Harris and Reed, is destined to be a hit.
Before I get to the music, let me start with a little background.
“Long Way Back” is a very special song for the members of Hillbilly Vegas. According to the band, the upcoming video is going to be used by an organization known as Battle Saint who works tirelessly raising money to build treatment facilities for PTSD and traumatic brain injuries in returning veterans. The Zac Brown Band and the creators of HBO’s Band of Brothers are also supporters of the organization. The soon to be released video for “Long Way Back” will feature the great things Battle Saint does along with a number of veterans and their families. I, for one, can’t wait.
Now, onto the song itself:
Judging by the description above, this obviously isn’t a song simply about graduating high school and getting out of town as fast as you can. There’s a lot more to it than that, and that’s why “Long Way Back” is indeed a special song. While the melody and the music pull you in, it’s the lyrics that hooked me, and reminded me of my adolescence and my own struggle, wanting to get out of where I was. They say the grass is always greener, right? In the end, I knew it would be a long way back, and I still haven’t gotten there just yet.
“There’s a two-lane, blacktop, leading in and out of town”
I think a lot of us can relate to that.I grew up in Petaluma, California, which was about 30,000 people when I lived there. For the most part, we had two roads in and out of town, and both were just two lanes. It’s a symbol of old town America, the towns we grew up in.
“…and nothing ever happens no matter how long you hang around”
Remind you of your teen years growing up? I don’t care how large your hometown was, it never, ever felt like anything was going on. You always needed to be somewhere else. Where the girls were. Where the parties were. Certainly, not there. It’s funny how your perspective changes once you get out. Once you see the world. The good. The bad. The scary. Makes you think about how safe, and enjoyable, your hometown really was.
“There’s a girl back there that I used to call babe. Yes she said she’d wait but I bet by now she’s called it a day.”
While I never served, many members of my family did across a number of branches of the military. I’ve also seen it in movies where the boy heads off to battle, only to return, afraid that she’s no longer waiting for him. I can’t imagine the heartbreak. But I think that there’s a double meaning here. What about the soldiers who return who aren’t just afraid of the girl they loved and lost, but that everyone has forgotten about them. What about their kids birthdays they missed. Anniversaries. Graduations. The list goes on and on. These men and women give up everything to protect us. They should NEVER be forgotten.
“But if I ever find my way back. From wherever I’ve been. I ain’t leaving again.”
Ain’t that the truth. I know that if I could do it all over again, and I could go back and live my life in that small town, I would. Not sure why I wanted to get out so fast. Maybe it was the small town atmosphere. Maybe it was looking for my freedom. Either way, I miss that small town life. I’ve tried to bring it back by moving to a small town here in Oregon, but it’ll never be the same as my hometown. I can’t imagine the feelings that the men and women of the military have when they return home. After a year, two years or more. Away from their families…their friends. It might be a long way back, but I’d never want to leave again.
My Final Take
A good song…you’ll remember. A great song…you’ll never forget!
“Long Way Back” is certainly the latter. It’s a well written piece of lyrical genius with plenty of emotion to make you want to put it on repeat (like I did) and listen over and over again. This isn’t a fly-by-night song that you’ll hear on your local station a few times, only to disappear into the abyss. “Long Way Back” has staying power. It’s different than anything I’ve heard recently on country radio, and that makes it special.
This is the type of song that takes a band like Hillbilly Vegas and pulls them from obscurity, and puts them directly in the center of the country music map.