Jon Kopaloff, FilmMagic
"I remember seeing a Merle Haggard interview seven years ago and somebody asked him, 'What would be your advice to someone wanting to get into music?' Dierks tells The Boot. "His immediate response was 'Don't.'
"I remember thinking at the time, what a jerk he is; that is a terrible piece of advice. Then after I was here a couple years, and I saw how hard and tough it is to make it, I understood what he was saying. There are so many guys and girls here, and it's such a great town that you don't feel the competitiveness, but they're down there every day playing on lower Broadway in one of those clubs. If they're not in a club, they're in their house or room, writing songs."
Thankfully Dierks didn't follow that advice from Merle, otherwise we wouldn't have his memorable songs, such as 'Sideways,' 'What Was I Thinkin'?' and 'Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go).'
Dierks realizes things have changed a lot just since his 1994 arrival in Nashville at age 19. At that time, he was one of those young people working at the Nashville Network (TNN) by day, researching classic country music, and hitting the clubs at night, playing wherever he could and meeting other people who loved country and bluegrass music. Folks still come to Nashville to be discovered, but these days there are other ways to get a recording contract, including television shows such as 'American Idol' and 'The Voice.'
A recording artist since 2003, Dierks now has some of his own advice to pass on to aspiring singers and songwriters. "My advice would be to follow your passion," he says. "Choose whatever door it is you want to go through. Play in a bar or try out for 'American Idol,' do what it takes to get seen by some people. I think every route is legitimate."
The singer also advises new artists not to try to copy anyone. He says being true to yourself and being an original is always important, no matter which route is taken.
"I have nothing but respect for any of the people who have been on 'American Idol,' he notes. "Where I came from, it was such an outside world to do it that way, but I have watched the show the last few seasons and those kids go from singing Josh Turner songs one day to rock music the next. The pressure is unbelievable. So if it's that route or coming to Nashville and playing the bars, I'd say go believe in yourself, go with your passion and go for it."
Dierks is putting the finishing touches on his next album. The first single from the disc, 'Am I the Only One' is sitting just outside the Top 10 after only five weeks on the chart.