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Mark Willis Looking For America headline

Mark Wills, telling the stories that need to be told.

 

By: Gina Kay Singerhouse

Editor

 

   It's early as the sun rises across the eastern sky.  Across the land, men and women begin their days.  Days filled with work, raising children, taking care of the elderly.  Days filled with prayer and choices.  Days that soon fill with stories.  This is America.  The land of the free and the home of the brave.

   The country music genre will always be filled with those willing to sing stories.  Some sing stories of love and heartache. While others sing stories of the brave.  Each song, each person, tells a story.  It's a matter of taking time to listen.

  On June 21st, country music entertainer Mark Wills released his new album Looking For America.

   "Well there is a little bit of everything on this record." replies Mark Wills.  "That's what I'm the most proud of. It's that it has a large diverse group of songs.  But at the same time they all fit together. That's very hard to do. There's songs on there that I consider to be dark.  Very dark songs that I have never really done in my career. But when you start out with 'Rockin' The Country' and then you go from that to 'Looking For America' to other songs.  It just seems to flow well together. That's not an easy task to put it together."

   The album features Mark performing ten songs ranging from ballads to up beat country rock songs.

   "I just think it was the lack of having a new album out for a long time." states Mark when asked what inspired him to release such an incredible album.  "When you're used to doing a record every year, you kind of get rushed through it.  But, this one we took our time. We didn't necessarily rush for the wrong reasons. We just slowly put this album together and did it from a direction of finding the best songs possible and get it out there for the fans."

   The album speaks for it's self when it comes to the legitimacy of taking time to pulling it all together.

  The album opens with "Rockin' The Country," a hard core up beat country rock song.  What brings this song to life is the deep baritone vocals of Mark Wills. This is a song that many hard core country fans will enjoy.

  The album continues with the title cut.  This is one powerful song that tells us the story of times gone by, in America.

 

Looking For America
(Jeremy Bussey, Bernie Nelson, Philip Douglas)

 

I’m chasing down a memory
Of the way that things used to be
Kids playing underneath an old street light

Knowing they were safe when they laid down at night
I’m looking for something I ain’t seen in a while

 

I’m looking for a factory

Where a man can feed his family

Not worried about them moving it south

Closing the doors and shutting ‘er down tomorrow

I’m looking for America

 

Chorus:

The land of the free and the home of the brave

Seems like I just woke up one day and it was gone, long gone
But I know in my heart it’s still out there

Can somebody please tell me where
I’m looking for, America

 

I’m searching for an old church steeple

Where inside you’ll find people

Who live their lives unashamed

And they ain’t afraid to say God’s name out loud
Yeah I’m looking for America

 

Repeat Chorus:

 

I’m out here looking for the truth
A few folks to waive the red, white and blue
Who still believe freedom isn’t free
And I guess it’s up to you and me to find it
Yeah we gotta find it
Cause we’re looking for

 

Repeat Chorus:

 

   "I think as a child you have a limited view of what America is or what our country is." replies Mark when asked what he misses most about America. "I think the thing I miss about our country is the simpler things.  The drive-in movies, the kids playing in the yard, the not worrying about something bad happening to all the children playing out in the yard. That someone was going to ride by and pick them up. I think the further that we get from each other and everyone taking care of each other and helping out - you know that saying 'it takes a village to raise a child.'  I believe that our neighborhoods have become less safe because we are so less involved in our own worlds.

   When I was kid, in my home town, if I was doing something wrong there were at least 5000 people who knew who I was and would have absolutely no problem going 'knock it off! You know better than that!" replies Wills. "Now you're afraid to say anything to any body! 'Cause you'll get sued!  I think that's what is wrong with our world.  I think we let the ACLU and a lot of other groups take over and make us scared to be what made us great at one point. Now we are in fear of everything we do and we don't want to be involved.  I think that's what's making our country weak."

   The album continues with "Crazy Being Home," a beautiful ballad that tells a soldier's story.

   "The first time I heard 'Crazy Being Home,' I just felt it was a wonderful song." states Mark. "I felt like it was something that needed to be said, that hadn't been said. The first time I heard the song it was all 'I.' I didn't feel this.  I don't do that. It was 'I almost forgot to drive over here.' I said that's not me.  It made it sound like it was my experience.  I think it's a much more powerful song and a much stronger song if you make it about someone else."

 

Crazy Being Home

Mark Wills

 

He almost forgot how to drive over here

While he tried to survive a year over there

Some young punk just flipped him off

And ran him off of the road

 

He just turned 22 last week

In the back of a striker somewhere in Tikrit

He never thought he’d live to be this old

It’s crazy bein’ home

It’s crazy bein’ home

 

He stepped off a plane

It feels like yesterday

They were waving flags and signs with his name

It said they were proud of what he’d done

If they only knew what he had become

The girl that he loved, she swore she would wait

But he came home to a cold empty place

Had a burger today, got a new cell phone

It’s crazy bein’ home

 

The stars all look the same

He still answers to his name

It’s okay, but something just ain’t right

It’s right to fight for what you love

But his young eyes have seen too much

Til you’ve been where he’s been, you wouldn’t understand

I hope you never have to my friend

 

Well he got the call, he’s back on the plane

To where he belongs, that might sound insane

But his brothers are there

They can’t fight this alone

So they dropped him right there in the blood red sand

His best friend is locked and loaded in his hands

And his sergeant yells, boys it’s time to go!

And he thought, it’s crazy bein’ home

(Chopper sounds)

It’s crazy bein’ home

It’s crazy bein’ home

Crazy bein’ home (whisper)

It’s crazy bein’ home

It’s crazy bein’ home

Crazy bein’ home

 

   The song has gone on to become an anthem to USA Cares Warrior Treatment Today campaign song, (www.crazybeinghome.com).  Mark also includes an acoustic version of the song on this album.

   Mark continues the album with several ballads. the first is a soft ballad called "Like There's No Yesterday."  Mark performs this song with heart and soul mixed with the appropriate instrumentals. The second is another great ballad, "Rather Be," about breaking up.  Where as "The Whole World," is a wonderful love song.  Mark includes other heartache songs in "Smokin' Gun" and "Where Did I Lose You."

   This brings us to the eighth cut on this incredible album.  "Phantom of The Opry" is a beautiful ballad that captures the essence of the Opry.

 

Phantom Of The Opry
(Written by Billy Lawson / John Schweers / Roger Murrah)

 

Around midnight
A shadow appears on center stage
And sings a haunting melody
While a distant fiddle plays
Look closer
You can almost see a rhinestone shining in the dark
He's still a living legend
Living right here in my heart

Chorus:
He's the phantom of the Opry
A grand ole spirit from the Ryman days
He just feels at home here
He don't really mean to haunt this place
Every time it rains in Nashville
They say the angels cry
'Cause the phantom of the Opry
Never got to say goodbye

Some say it's Hank or Lefty
Or that Kentucky Bluebird flying back again
No one knows for certain
But we all know it's more than just the wind
There's a ghostly sound of steel guitar
Crying in the night
Does it come from center stage
Or from somewhere on the other side

Chorus:
He's the phantom of the Opry
A grand ole spirit from the Ryman days
He just feels at home here
He don't really mean to haunt this place
Every time it rains in Nashville
They say the angels cry
'Cause the phantom of the Opry
Never got to say goodbye

Around midnight
A shadow appears on center stage
And sings a haunting melody
While a distant fiddle plays

 

 The first time I ever walked into the Ryman Auditorium, I was over whelmed by the feeling of knowing how many artists had performed on that legendary stage.

   In the end, I can only say that this has to be the best album that Mark Wills has created thus far.  It is filled with love, respect, caring and sharing.  It makes the listener laugh, cry and appreciate what they have.  It's very rare in the country music genre to actually have an album that can do all that. 

   Mark Wills is a story teller and the stories he is telling in this album are unique.

(This article was printed in the July / August 2011 issue of Strictly Country Magazine.)

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