Chapel Hill, N.C.-based singer and songwriter Greg Hawks spills his heart about his father’s passing on new single “Things I Did Not Say,” a cut off forthcoming independent album I Think It’s Time.
Hawks found inspiration for the song in the aftermath of his father’s untimely 2001 death from early-stage emphysema. As good country music should, its shares a broad enough message for listeners from all walks of life to relate to one person’s specific feelings of loss and regret.
“The song was a reminder to myself: don’t get too caught up in the small stuff,” he says. “Realize that whenever you’re with someone you care about, it might be a good idea to tell them how much they mean to you. Because there’s no guarantee you’ll see that person again.”
Hawks adds that two of his dad’s favorite traditional country musicians, George Jones and Merle Haggard, inspired his sonic approach. As did several of Haggard’s West Coast contemporaries, including Buck Owens and the Gram Parsons-era Byrds. His retro vibe also consults the Memphis pop/rock songbook, with special attention paid to the works of Roy Orbison and Big Star’s Alex Chilton.
Just as the Byrds had steel guitar greats Jay Dee Maness and Lloyd Green play on Americana precursor Sweetheart of the Rodeo 50 years prior, Hawks brought in his own studio magician when he called on longtime Steve Wariner and Mount Moriah/H.C. McEntire collaborator Allyn Love. “When the great Allyn Love added his pedal steel part, it took the song to a higher place emotionally,” Hawks says. “The first time I listened to the playback with his parts, it literally brought me to tears. I wrote him later that day to tell him that his steel completely captured the mood and emotional feeling of the song.”
Other contributors include fellow North Carolina musician and The dB’s co-founder Chris Stamey as the album’s mixer — a role he played on Hawks’ 2001 Yep Rock debut, Fool’s Paradise.
Prior single “From One to the Other Extreme” packs social commentary about our current situation into a song that celebrates the defiant sneer and creative liberty of outlaw country’s heyday.
Hawks’ new album arrives Oct. 12 via Sweet & Salty Records.