“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.
Jon Pardi picked up his first CMA Award for New Artist of the Year, and he wished he had more time to thank EVERYBODY.
“If I did win, my dream was to get like a receipt and drop it and be like, ‘These are all of the people I need to thank right here,’ you know, and it keeps going,’ says Jon. “It’s been an amazing year, and I’ve had people that believed in me since day one and I’m just glad that I had somebody like Capitol Records, country radio. They just stuck behind me and never gave up on me.”
The West Coast native’s determination to keep plugging at his music career led to his success. “When I drove here from California, I said, ‘Man, it’s going to be a crappy ride back. That’s a long ways,’” he says. “But, perseverance and believing in myself and constantly keeping myself around people I believe in and just sticking with it. It’s so amazing to be sitting here finally, and I said this is the year that my family doesn’t have to stop the recording to find me in the audience.”
Jon is climbing the country charts with his latest song, “She Ain’t In It,” the follow-up to three No. 1 hits from his sophomore album, California Sunrise.
Jon is headlining his CMT Lucky Tonight Tour, and the trek is scheduled to make stops in Chicago on Thursday (November 16th), Rosemont, Illinois on Friday (November 17th) and Milwaukee on Saturday (November 18th).
Jon Pardi (support) OC: …never gave up on me. :23
“You get off stage [after] you do your speech and there’s so many other people that you just [want to thank]…if I did win, my dream was to get like a receipt and drop it and be like, ‘These are all of the people I need to thank right here,’ you know, and it keeps going. It’s been an amazing year, and I’ve had people that believed in me since day one and I’m just glad that I had somebody like Capitol Records, country radio. They just stuck behind me and never gave up on me.”
Jon Pardi (realizing dream) OC: …the audience. :21
“When I drove here from California, I said, ‘Man, it’s going to be a crappy ride back. That’s a long ways.’ But, perseverance and believing in myself and constantly keeping myself around people I believe in and just sticking with it. It’s so amazing to be sitting here finally, and I said this is the year that my family doesn’t have to stop the recording to find me in the audience.”
Sam Hunt performed a medley of his biggest hits, as well as a unifying chorus of “This Land Is Your Land.” Martina McBride belted out timely songs including “Love’s The Only House” while Keith Urban brought energy to the stage as he interacted with the crowd and performed his soulful “Blue Ain’t Your Color.” Dierks Bentley’s set included his powerful song “Riser,” which he dedicated to the first responders and the community for rallying together and rising up in the midst of tragedy, also surprising the crowd by bringing out special guest Jon Pardi who performed “Dirt On My Boots.”
all photo credit: Getty Images
“Hi! This is Alan Jackson. I hope y’all have a very happy Thanksgiving out there.”
“Hey Guys, I’m Billy Currington. Have a great Thanksgiving.”
“Hey y’all! This is Brandon Lay. Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Hey! This is TJ, and this is John, and we’re wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving!”
“Hey! What’s up, guys? I’m Canaan Smith, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!”
“Hi! I’m Carrie Underwood, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Hey! This is Clare Dunn, wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving!”
“Hey everybody, I’m Dan Tyminski, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Hey y’all! What’s up? This is Darius Rucker, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!” “
“Hey! It’s Dierks Bentley! Happy Thanksgiving!”
“It’s Easton Corbin here, and I want to wish everybody a Happy Thanksgiving!”
“Hey folks! It’s Eric Church, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Hey! This is Eric Paslay, wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Hey guys! Gary Allan here. I just want to wish everybody a Happy Thanksgiving, and have a Happy Holidays and make sure you’re safe out there. Drive safe. Party your butts off, but do it safe.”
“Hi! This is George Strait, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Hey! It’s Jon Pardi, wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Hey! I’m Jordan Davis. Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.”
“Hey! It’s Kacey Musgraves, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!”
“Happy Thanksgiving everybody. It’s Keith Urban here. I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you all of you listening for your incredible love and support that I’ve received over the last year, and to wish you and all of your family all the very best for this holiday.”
“Hey what’s up guys, this is Kip Moore wishing you a very happy Thanksgiving.”
“Hey everybody! We are Lady Antebellum, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Hey! This is Lauren Alaina, wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving!”
“Hey, we’re Little Big Town. Happy Thanksgiving!”
“Hey! It’s Luke Bryan, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!”
“Hey! It’s Mickey Guyton here, and I want to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Hey everybody! This is Sam Hunt, wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving.”