“If you can take a piece of life and put it in a song,” says Jon Pardi, “it’s going to be a good song—especially if it’s from the heart.”
It’s a formula he has followed since his days learning his craft with bands in his native California, and in the years since, he has become, both on stage and in the studio, one of country music’s most exciting young performers.
Pardi and co-producer/collaborator Bart Butler have captured both the craft and the energy in an eleven-song introduction that hearkens to classic country’s best musical and lyrical elements while sounding as fresh as anything out there.
Write You A Song contains both of Pardi’s breakthrough hits—“Missin’ You Crazy” and “Up All Night”–as well as tracks that veer from pure honky-tonk and party songs to tales of love and romance. The bottom line, though, is pure, stage-worthy high energy.
“All I ever wanted to do coming to Nashville,” Pardi says with his characteristic grin, “was to write rowdy, in-your-face, straight country music, and that’s what this album is.”
The album’s title track packs the kind of punch that marks Pardi as heir to a honky-tonk line that runs through Buck Owens and Dwight Yoakam, and its spare instrumentation brings a purist’s grit to heartfelt tales of road life. “What I Can’t Put Down” is an ode to the addictive nature of cigarettes, alcohol, love and, above all, music. “Trash A Hotel Room” is not, as might be expected, a tale of road excess, but rather a tale of two lovers getting back to basics, and “Happens All The Time” makes a terrific song out of a pick-up line. If there is a bit of autobiographical philosophy here, it is in “Chasin’ Them Better Days,” an infectious look at hope and dreams in the worlds of music and love. “Love You From Here” is a bluegrass-influenced break-up song with an upbeat attitude, and Pardi slows down just long enough to sing “That Man,” a moving tale of friendship-turned-love.
Life and love, truth and energy wind their way all through Write You A Song, which showcases a young artist who is clearly no ordinary newcomer, something many of his fellow artists have noted.
“People ask me who I’d like to open up for,” Pardi says with a smile, “and I tell them I’ve already been lucky enough to have opened for several artists I look up to.”
It’s a list that includes Alan Jackson, Dwight Yoakam, Dierks Bentley, Gary Allan and Luke Bryan, singers who appreciate the kind of influences Pardi brings to the table—echoes of the crisp Bakersfield sound of Owens and Merle Haggard, hints of the driving beat of Waylon Jennings and the excitement of Jerry Lee Lewis. He brings all of it together and puts his unique stamp on it, topping it off with just a bit of swagger that gives a little edge to his undeniable appeal.
Like his heroes, Pardi is a longtime road warrior, a veteran of four-set shows and constant travel, someone who brings a wealth of experience to bear every time he steps in front of a microphone. He has gone on tour with kindred spirit and labelmate Eric Church, and earned a slot on the Austin City Limits Festival, one of the country world’s most prestigious venues. His on-stage charisma and accessibility, his polished yet raucous sound, and his well-crafted and infectious songs earn him new fans wherever he goes.
The territory he covers on the CD—road life and the ups and downs of romance—has been the subject matter of many country classics through the decades, but Pardi, whose gift is a feel for atmosphere and an eye for detail, makes it all fresh and gives the project his indelible stamp.
A natural storyteller, Pardi writes what he knows, spinning tales born of his dues-paying days in the area around his native Dixon, California, and bringing it all together into a strong, cohesive musical statement.
All in all, it’s an album by an artist who knows just where his strengths lie—the excitement, experience and songwriting skills that fueled his relatively fast rise to publishing and label deals after his arrival in Nashville are all present. His one-of-a-kind voice brings a positive edge to even the toughest emotional scenarios.
“I really don’t have any negative songs,” reveals Pardi. “It always feels good with me so when you come to a show or listen to the record, you’re going to have a good time.”
It’s not hard to see where the earliest seeds of Pardi’s approach lie. His musical journey began with a grandmother who loved classic country and had a karaoke machine in the house. Young Jon developed a special fondness for Hank Jr. and the two Georges—Jones and Strait—along with Alabama, Dwight Yoakam and Mark Chesnutt. He was just 7 when he sang “Friends in Low Places” for all he was worth at his dad’s 30th birthday party at a local Legion hall.
At an even younger age, he walked out of a children’s music class and asked for guitar lessons so he could sing like his heroes. Pardi was writing songs by 12 and playing them in a band at 14. A self-confessed “class clown,” he was more interested in writing songs and playing guitar than in either sports or homework. After high school, he and buddy Chase McGrew began playing acoustically in small bars around Dickson and Winters.
“Those were some of the fun times,” Pardi shares, “and that’s when I learned that slow songs don’t go over when you’re trying to sell beer, so I learned a lot of really up, fast songs that I still like doing today.”
The two moved to Chico to go to Butte Junior College, where Pardi started the band Northern Comfort.
“We played together for three years and it was a lot of fun,” but when they disbanded temporarily, Pardi continues, “I went home and started saving money. I’d known I was going to move to Nashville since I was 19,” and after visits to Music City where he met a few people, he knew the time was right.
“You need to have a level head to move here,” he says, “to be confident enough to say, ‘I’m going to do it.” I felt like I was ready and I started out on February 23, 2008, with my mom crying as I drove away.”
Pardi took his dog, his PA system and the $7,000 he’d saved, which he claims he “went through pretty quick.” Using a credit card to pay the fee for lifeguard training, he used that new skill to earn money until he landed a publishing deal, just 18 months after moving. Two of his first collaborations, “Write You A Song” and “Fighting The Fool,” were instrumental in landing him his publishing deal, and he took full advantage of the opportunity to write for money.
“I did a lot of co-writing,” he says. “There were a lot of headache mornings but I still showed up, and a lot of good songs came on days like that.”
As demos he wrote and sang started making the rounds on Music Row, label execs, including those at Capitol Records, began asking, “Who is this Jon Pardi?”
Industry vets Autumn House and Nathan Nicholson played an instrumental role in Pardi landing his first major record deal. With their encouragement and direction, “we started doing showcases,” explains Pardi. “On about the third one we did with the full band, Mike Dungan (CEO Capitol Records Nashville) gave me a handshake afterward and said, ‘Let’s do it.’”
As they talked about potential producers, Pardi suggested that he and his friend and collaborator Bart Butler, who had done the demos that had brought him this far, do the album.
“They [Capitol Records] said all right, we cut four songs and they loved them,” Pardi shares. “Then we went back in and finished it up.”
The key from his perspective, he says, is “knowing what you want. I had what I wanted to sound like in my head. It’s what made doing the demos and then the record so much fun. You take a piece of this influence and a bit of that and make it your own. So much happens in the studio if you’ve got your lyric and song melody down.”
Given the quality of his heroes, the strength of his talent and the depth of his experience, the album became just the right showcase. From there, he says, “it’s about surrounding yourself with great people. If you show Nashville you’ve got talent and if you do it right, they’ll help you make that talent even better and help you get it out there.”
Life perspective gives his success a special sweetness.
“I know I’m lucky to be doing what I’m doing,” he says appreciatively. “I could be back working construction or installing air conditioners in an attic that’s at 115 degrees. There are a lot of people who work awfully hard to make a dollar. I’m glad the hard work I’m doing now goes into something I love this much. It makes me really happy to be here doing music.”
As he makes his mark on a national level, that’s a feeling being shared by more and more new Jon Pardi fans.
What are some of your favorite stars doing to welcome in the New Year? Some of them are working to help fans celebrate. Several artists have taken the time off around the holidays and will hit it hard when they return to the road in January. Some artists have resolutions and some are very helpful with their own hangover cures for those who imbibe too much on New Year’s Eve.
Keith Urban is set to headline Music City on New Year’s Eve for the second year in a row. He’ll perform against the backdrop of the State Capitol Building as part of the Jack Daniels Music City Midnight Bash. Maren Morris, Cheap Trick, Carly Pearce, Johnny P, Larkin Poe and the Fisk Jubilee Singers are also on the bill.
Canaan Smith will perform on New Year’s Eve in Nashville as part of Team USA’s WinterFest at the Walk of Fame Park at 3:30p.
Brothers Osborne (New Year) OC: (TJ) …next month. :44
JOHN: “I think it’s kind of funny how we spend literally the last moment and the very first moment of every year being extremely intoxicated, extremely, because you don’t want to wait until like 12:30 to get your buzz on. You’ve got to do it before midnight, and then once midnight happens, you’re like, ‘Omigod! Now it’s time to celebrate even more.’ Debauchery is the literally bookending your entire year.” TJ: “I love how everyone starts the year off with diets and then we end the year with like excessive amounts of food. And then you get to the end of the year, you’re like, ‘Oh, I’m going to start a diet on the 1st, so I’m going to eat everything that’s in front of me.’ I love it.” JOHN: “And come February 1st, ‘what diet?’” [laughs] TJ: “What diet? I’ll start it next month.” [laughs]
Brothers Osborne (hangover cure) OC: …of the year. :07
“Usually drinking more. I mean, a little hair of the dog never hurt anybody. Plus, it’s the first of the year.”
Canaan Smith (no hangover cure) OC: …long, you know? :32
“There is no hangover cure. The older I get I’m like, ‘Oh God! What am I thinking?’ It’s terrible. Hangovers are awful. Tequila’s the worst. I try to stay away from Tequila, because it hurts me bad. I used to be a whiskey guy. I still am every now and then, but of late, I’m domestic, American beer, just something light and tasty. Shots are my worst enemy. When I start working shots into the picture, that’s when I know I’m gonna hurt the next morning. I just try to keep it the same, whether it’s whiskey or beer or whatever, I just stick with that same drink the whole night long, you know?”
Dierks (NYE) OC: …for that. :10
“I think January first is universally accepted as a dog. So I mean, a little hair of the dog, I guess. But just…water and stay on the couch, I guess. There’s no real sure-fire cure for that.”
Eric Church (hangover cure) OC: …every time. :17
“The best hangover cure – I’ve got two. One is 5-hour Energy [bottles], because of all the B-vitamins that are in it. You can start pounding those, and it’s either gonna work, or it’s gonna keep you up and prolong your misery. But the other one I have is just take two Advil and a beer in the morning. Hair of the dog, man – that works every time.”
Jon Pardi (hangover cure) OC: …deal with it. :20
“My hangover cure is Bloody Marys, but be careful – because once you have a couple, don’t go to beer, because if you go to beer, you’re gonna start drinking again and you’ll end up a morning drunk. OR if you want to go the non-alcoholic route, there’s nothing you can do for hangovers. [laughs] You just go deal with it.”
Kacey Musgraves (hangover cure) OC: …water. Yup! :32
“Coconut water is a major help with hangovers and also, a lot of times we go and eat Vietnamese fuh. It’s a soup, and it’s got this awesome broth. You can get different things in it or whatever, but for some reason, it’s just like…it’s almost like a chicken noodle soup kind of an idea, you know, but it’s good. That’s good for hangovers too. That, sleep, Tylenol, coconut water and just water, in general. And when you’re drinking, have your alcohol, drink a little bit of water, drink some more alcohol, drink some water. Yup!”
Keith Urban (New Year’s emotions) OC: …of time. :35
“Yeah, I go for every emotion on New Year’s Eve, every emotion – regret, remorse, melancholy, joy, hope, sadness, gratitude, calm, anxiety. [laughs] There’s a lot in that night for a lot of people. I’ve always been a big, I love New Year’s…Nic’s not a big New Year’s Eve person. I love New Year’s Eve. The counting down is important to me and I find it huge, that demarcation of time.”
Kip Moore (avoiding hangovers on NYE) OC: …yourself. :03
“Pace yourself on New Year’s – that’s the remedy. Pace yourself.”
Luke Bryan (New Years-best) OC: …great night. :17
“My best New Year’s Eve is definitely when my wife and I started back dating. We started back dating right before Christmas, and we went on a trip down to Florida and met some friends. And her birthday is New Year’s Eve. We celebrated it that night. It was just a great night.”
Luke Bryan (looking back on 2017) OC: …about it. :40
“I look back on the year, and certainly it’s been a crazy busy year, but I don’t know any other way on doing this business other than it being really, really crazy and really, really busy. I try to sit down and write music and write songs and then I’m constantly listening through what the city of Nashville and what all the wonderful songwriters there are churning out. So, yeah, listening and writing and then we go into the studio and try to make some music happen. So, we’ve been going in periodically through the year in getting this album done, and it’s finally, finally here and I’m pretty excited about it.”
“What’s up everybody? This is Brandon Lay, wishing you a Happy New Year.”
“Hey! This is TJ, and I’m John, and we are Brothers Osborne. Happy New Year.”
“Hey, what’s up guys? I’m Canaan Smith, wishing you a Happy New Year.”
“Hi! I’m Carrie Underwood, wishing you a Happy New Year.”
“Hey! I’m Clare Dunn, wishing you a Happy New Year.”
“Hey! I’m Clare Dunn, wishing you a Happy New Year.”
“Hey, it’s Dierks Bentley. Happy New Year!”
“Hey everybody! I’m Easton Corbin, wishing you a Happy New Year!”
“Hey! It’s Eric Church, hoping you have a Happy New Year.”
“Hi! I’m Eric Paslay, wishing you a Happy New Year!”
“Hey everybody! I’m Gary Allan. Happy New Year!”
“Hi! I’m Jon Pardi, wishing you a Happy New Year!”
“Hey! I’m Jordan Davis, wishing you a Happy New Year!”
“Hey! I’m Josh Turner. Happy New Year!”
“Hey! It’s Kacey Musgraves, hoping you have a safe and Happy New Year!”
“Hey everyone! This is Keith Urban. Have a safe and happy New Year.”
“It’s Kip Moore, wishing you a Happy New Year.”
“This is Lauren Alaina, wishing you a Happy New Year.”
“Hey! We’re Little Big Town. Happy New Year!”
“Hey! This is Luke Bryan, hoping you have a Happy New Year.”
“Hey! This is Mickey Guyton, wishing you a Happy New Year.”
“Hey everybody! I’m Sam Hunt. Happy New Year!”
“Hi! This is Shania Twain. Happy New Year!”
Jon Pardi likes a good holiday movie. One of his favorite Christmas films is Bad Santa, starring Billy Bob Thornton, but for the PG crowd, it would have to be Elf.
“Bad Santa’s pretty good,” he says. “But I have to say if you’re gonna watch it with little cousins, I would have to say Elf is pretty much probably one of the funniest Christmas movies to ever be that new and beat out all of the old Christmas movies. It is definitely up there.”
The CMA and ACM New Artist of the Year, who is climbing the country charts with “She Ain’t In It,” will hit the road with Miranda Lambert January 18th in Greenville, South Carolina.
Jon Pardi (favorite Christmas movie) OC: …up there. :15
“Bad Santa’s pretty good. But I have to say if you’re gonna watch it with little cousins, I would have to say Elf is pretty much probably one of the funniest Christmas movies to ever be that new and beat out all of the old Christmas movies. It is definitely up there.”