When it comes down to it, Randy Rogers is a storyteller. On his band's 2016 album, Nothing Shines Like Neon, he takes listeners through scenarios that happen each night at the neighborhood dive bar. The emotions and liquor keep on pouring through every track. "Meet Me Tonight" recalls that call you made to your ex after a few too many, while "Tequila Eyes" visits the unlikely connections that are made while grappling with heartache.
So what inspires Rogers to keep returning his listeners to the place where dreams go to drown? When we asked him to share the one traditional country song that has a special place in his heart, he chose what many see as the ultimate honky-tonk heartbreak anthem.
"'Misery and Gin' is the quintessential country song," Rogers tells Wide Open Country. "Drowning out heartache, drink by drink is as country as it gets. The song is sad and real and poetic all at the same time - all the things Hag was a master at."
The tune has all the elements of the perfect bar stool tearjerker. Written by John Robert Durrill and Snuff Garrett, "Misery and Gin" first became a hit for Merle back in 1980. Few songs can transport you so vividly to a smoky, neon-lit bar, where the narrator desperately tries to drown his sorrow with whiskey and women. Because of those expertly written lyrics and Haggard's emotional delivery, it's gone down in history as one of the best honky tonk tunes ever recorded.
"It's the one song I can listen to over and over and over again," Rodgers explains. But the country star says he connects with the track in a way you might not expect. Instead of exploring the heartache left after a breakup, Randy is reminded of the loved ones waiting for him as he fulfills his dreams. "That one killer line '...what I'd give for my baby to just walk in' sums up how I feel every day on the road missing my family."
In fact, Rogers felt so connected to the song that he recorded his own cover of the tune earlier this year. You can see his live performance below.
You can catch the Randy Rogers Band out on the road through the spring, with dates scheduled across the U.S. through May. Check out their full list of concert stops via their official website.