Editors’ Notes With two decades of albums under his belt, the Nashville-based, warmly gruff singer-songwriter Will Hoge draws on a wealth of experience in the business. “When you're making records early on and you're working with big labels, the expectations are so big, because people start thinking about radio and formats and stardom and all of these things,” he tells Apple Music. “It's just like, ‘Well, you don't want to be too loud or too slow or too fast or too rocking or too quiet.’” Hoge applies that hard-earned perspective to his self-produced 11th studio LP Tiny Little Movies. “We can really just focus on what feels good,” he says. “There's some really, really quiet songs on this record, and I think that's how those songs should sound. There's also really loud, rocking songs, and that's how they should sound. I don't think you have to try to file down the edges of things to make them palatable for every single person. I think that's where you start to lose.” Here's Hoge's track-by-track breakdown of Tiny Little Movies.

Midway Motel
“I wrote that with Ricky [Young], from the band Wild Feathers. He was coming over, and I wrote the music kind of right before he got there. I had a real good grip on what the feel was. I had a little melody, but we didn't have a subject. He was telling me a story about this old hotel that used to be out on Dickerson Road called the Midway Motel. There was a sign there for years and they finally tore it down. Then I started telling him about these places on the road you inhabit as musicians that, before you even go to a town, you just go, ‘Oh, okay. That's where we eat, at this place, and where we stay, at this place.’ It becomes a sort of second home. So it was sort of that story of those places on the road where you start to feel more at home and [get to] know these characters that come in and out.”

The Overthrow
“I think that guitar riff is just a blunt instrument we needed to beat people over the head with. We did arrangements with it at just the top, just the end, and then kind of do other things in the middle. It always felt like a puzzle you were trying to force pieces into. When we did it in this arrangement, more like a group of 15- and 16-year-old kids playing in a garage for the first time, it had that real raw grit and emotion that I just felt like the song needed.”

Maybe This Is Ok
“It didn't dawn on me until about the last 18 months that I'm all right. I've done things that are cool. I've done things that I can be really proud of. I still want to grow. I want to push myself and all those things, but I feel like for years, I've just been unsatisfied. Even the moments where something good was happening, there's always this moment of ‘Now what's going to screw up next? Something has to go wrong.’ Instead of enjoying the successes and realizing that sometimes things do go wrong, but it's just part of it, having to continue forward and really try to find some beauty and all of that. It was really just a love letter to my own wellness, I guess.”

Even the River Runs Out of This Town
“There are the decisions we have to make as adults. I think that when we're younger, there's always these incredibly black-and-white moments of, like, ‘This is just right, this is just wrong. It's what you do.’ Then you don't think about it. I think with time, realizing that there are these hard, really painful things that we have to do—whether that's a breakup or leaving a job or leaving a city, or a combination of all of those things. It's oftentimes still the right thing to do. It can be things as simple as during this quarantine, we watched my oldest son, who's 13 now, went off for the first time on his bike and left for the day with his friends. You have to have these moments of growth and sadness to really continue to move on.”

My Worst
“It was the longest song. We kind of whittled on it and tried to do a more, quote unquote, radio-friendly arrangement, and it was never interesting. The guitar work was important. The girls singing that [chorus] part, it's sort of that internal voice telling you to let these things go. You sort of know it inside. It just didn't have that same effect when it was just me singing it. I really liked the effect of where it took us emotionally.”

That’s How You Lose Her
“I liked that it has a bit of the old man that pulls you aside when he sees you acting like a dumbass, whether that's in a relationship or in a bar or whatever it is. He goes, ‘Hey, man, just so we're clear, this is how this ends when you do this this way.’ Maybe it's even this guy looking back at himself and going, ‘Oh, that's where I totally screwed this up.’”

Con Man Blues
“It’s blues only in the fact that it's a sad subject; it is not a blues song at all. And I really loved that. It's sort of the exact opposite of what we talked about with the long song. We got the whole story and a great guitar solo and outro solo, all of these things that you wanted in song, and I think it's two minutes and 11 seconds or something like that. It felt so punk rock and natural that I just loved it, so we left it alone.”

Is This All That You Wanted Me For
“I've been in a relationship now with my wife for 15 years, and there's the moments when you try to get better at this, the days where it's like, ‘Oh, I'm the problem here.’ There's others that you go, ‘I'm the victim.’ We've reached a point in our journey where you start to see people's relationships fall apart. You start to see things crumble and that real pain that that brings when you are the one that really is sort of abandoned. There was a desperation in the recording of that one. That's a one-take vocal the whole way through. I'm real proud of that.”

The Likes of You
“That's really my ode to male vulnerability, my own male vulnerability—of finally just being able to fully give in to that. For me, there was always this feeling of not being able to fully be vulnerable. I've had lots of therapy and lots of conversations about it, and it’s something I still work on and struggle with.”

The Curse
“It's just this really straightforward power-pop song, which I love. There's so many records like that that I listened to growing up, from XTC to early Tom Petty stuff, just any of that stuff that feels like a three-minute-long, roll-the-windows-down summer radio extravaganza. I feel like we really captured that with the song.”

All the Pretty Horses
“Thinking a lot about dads and daughters and how those relationships, when they screw up, it screws up things almost generationally, if not longer. Not just that relationship, but the daughters' future relationships with her husband or partner and children and all of those things. My wife's a counselor for kids. She doesn't give me intimate details, but you're able to pick up on certain scenarios and things that we go through with our children and parents and problems and how those can be lifelong struggles. It's really just the story of a girl having to leave behind all these sort of dreamlike ideas of childhood, and realizing all of these screwups that she's going to have to go and fix. You grow up in a small town and everybody still expects that you're going to look back fondly, and that's just not the case for that character.”
Hear more songs you’ll like: “Hey Siri, play Will Hoge.”

SONG
Midway Motel
1
3:37
 
The Overthrow
2
2:48
 
Maybe This Is Ok
3
3:28
 
Even the River Runs out of This Town
4
3:19
 
My Worst
5
5:37
 
That's How You Lose Her
6
3:03
 
Con Man Blues
7
2:19
 
Is This All That You Wanted Me For
8
4:13
 
The Likes of You
9
3:26
 
The Curse
10
2:59
 
All the Pretty Horses
11
3:25
 

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