"The whole controversy has got people talking, and that's what you need."

By Annie Reuter

“A No. 1 never gets old,” Darius Rucker tells me with a big smile on his face.

Rucker is visiting Radio.com‘s New York offices today (March 30), less than 24 hours after learning that his song “Homegrown Honey,” which he wrote with Lady Antebellum‘s Charles Kelley and Nathan Chapman, would top this week’s Mediabase country singles chart.

Related: Interview: Darius Rucker on His New Album ‘Southern Style’

“Homegrown Honey” is the lead single off Rucker’s fourth solo album, Southern Style, due for release tomorrow (March 31).

“I remember my first No. 1. I remember how moved I was. It was really exciting. It was such a cool moment,” he recalls. “Yesterday when I got the text that we were probably going to be No. 1 again, it was the same feeling of, ‘This is awesome!’ To know that you’re the most played record in country music is pretty awesome.

“When I texted Charles [Kelley] to say congratulations he said it perfectly. He said, ‘It just never gets old.’ It’s still awesome.”

“I was playing golf with Charles Kelley one day,” Rucker explained to us in an earlier interview. “Charles is probably my best friend in the business. He said, ‘Man, we’ve been in Nashville seven years and have never written a song.’ I hadn’t really thought about it, but he was right. We had never written a song together. When I got to the session he had this great idea he had started with the opening line, ‘Sitting in a bar in New York City everyone here looking New York pretty.’”

Rucker explained that Kelley had the idea to write about a girl who lives in New York and is from the South and is different from everybody else. Nathan Chapman also had a hand in writing the track and is someone Rucker credits as “a genius with melodies.”

“[When] we finished it, we were sitting around and I said, ‘This is my single.’ There was no doubt in my mind that that was my first single.”

While he’s celebrating his single’s chart-topping achievement, and the release of his new album Southern Style, Rucker also had some insight to another song that’s been in the news lately, Little Big Town‘s current radio single “Girl Crush.”

That song is about jealousy from the perspective of a woman looking at her ex’s new girlfriend. However, some  have apparently been reading the song differently. In fact, “Girl Crush” gained a huge amount of (free) publicity after the Washington Post reported that some radio stations were allegedly pulling the song from their rotation. The reason? Some listeners have supposedly complained about it, saying it’s a song that is “promoting the gay agenda.”

Rucker offers some thoughtful comments on the hoopla over the song.

Sometimes “people want everybody to believe the same thing,” Rucker reflects, and they “can’t believe” when not everyone does. “It’s sad when songs don’t get played for reasons like that.”

For Rucker, the bottom line is actually rather simple. “For me, a good song is a good song no matter what it’s about,” he says.

That said, does he feel it’s time for a country song to address the so-called ‘gay agenda?’

“I think that’s been the cool thing about country music over the last decade or so, it’s really started to address a lot of things they wouldn’t have addressed before and didn’t want to hear about before,” he says. “It’s really cool that Little Big Town is doing something about that. Even though the song isn’t about that, the whole controversy has got people talking, and that’s what you need. You need people talking.”

Darius Rucker’s Southern Style hits stores and digital outlets on Tuesday, March 31.



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