Heartland rock is a genre of rock music that is exemplified by singer-songwriters Tom Petty, Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp. It is characterized by a straightforward, often roots musical style, a concern with the average, blue-collar American life, and a conviction that rock music has a social or communal purpose beyond just entertainment.
Heartland rock is also associated with a number of country music artists including Steve Earle and Joe Ely, along with less widely known acts such as the Iron City Houserockers. The genre developed in the 1970s and reached its commercial peak in the 1980s, when it became one of the best-selling genres in the United States. In the 1990s, many established acts faded and the genre began to fragment, but the major figures have continued to record with commercial success.
|Cultural origins||Late 1970s, United States|
|Midwestern United States and the Rust Belt|
The term heartland rock was not coined to describe a clear genre until the 1980s. In terms of style it often uses straightforward rock and roll, sometimes with elements of Americana and country. Most artists avoided the synthesizers that dominated the electronic rock of the 1980s and placed an emphasis on guitars, with a basic rhythm and blues line-up of drums, keyboards and occasional horn section instruments like a saxophone. Lyrics are often presented in a style that is raspy and unpolished, adding a sense of authenticity. The genre was most strongly influenced by American country, folk and folk rock acts such as Hank Williams, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, The Byrds, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Van Morrison, as well as the basic rock of 1960s garage and the Rolling Stones.
Verses in heartland rock songs often outline narrative stories, particularly of people undergoing hard times; choruses are often anthemic in tone. The genre is associated with rural and blue-collar values, particularly those of the predominantly white working-class regions of the Midwest and the Rust Belt. It has been characterized as a predominantly romantic genre, celebrating "urban backstreets and rooftops", and its major themes include alienation, despair, "unemployment, small-town decline, disillusionment, limited opportunity and bitter nostalgia".
Many major heartland rock artists began their careers in the 1960s, as with Bob Seger, or the 1970s, as with Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Springsteen would be the first artist to bring heartland rock to US and international attention, and its most commercially successful exponent. After a series of critically highly regarded, but modestly selling albums with the E Street Band, he achieved his breakthrough in 1975 with Born to Run, which presented stories of loss, betrayal, defeat and escape in the context of his native New Jersey shoreline, with songs influenced by 50s rock and roll, Bob Dylan and Phil Spector's Wall of Sound. While Springsteen struggled for three years with legal disputes, other artists in a similar vein came to the fore. These included Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and fellow Jersey Shore residents Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. In 1978, Springsteen returned with Darkness on the Edge of Town, which reached the top ten in the US and then the number one album The River (1980), which continued the themes of economic and personal dissolution, produced a series of hit singles, and has been seen as "getting the heartland rock bandwagon rolling", together with the stripped down sound and darker themes of his next album Nebraska (1982).
The genre reached its commercial, artistic and influential peak with Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A. in 1984, which topped the charts worldwide and spawned a series of Top Ten singles. The 1980s saw the continued success of famous artists, John Fogerty, Steve Miller Band and the arrival of new artists including John Mellencamp (initially recording as Johnny Cougar) (who has been described as defining the genre in the 1980s), Michael Stanley, George Thorogood, John Cafferty, John Hiatt, Lucinda Williams,, The Tractors(Oklahoma), Kentucky Headhunters, Joe Grushecky & the Iron City Houserockers, and more gentle singer/songwriters such as Bruce Hornsby. A number of country music artists like Steve Earle and Joe Ely also became associated with the genre. The first significant female artist in the genre was Melissa Etheridge, whose self-titled debut album issued in 1988 drew critical comparisons with Springsteen and Mellencamp.
Heartland rock had begun to fade as a recognized genre by the early 1990s, as rock music in general--and blue-collar and white working class themes in particular--lost influence with younger audiences. However, although some heartland rock artists disappeared from the scene, others--notably including Mellencamp, Petty, and Springsteen--continued to record with critical and commercial success. Their works have become more personal and experimental and no longer fit easily into a single genre. Newer artists such as Missouri's Bottle Rockets, Illinois' Uncle Tupelo and Wilco or Pennsylvania's The War on Drugs whose music may have been labeled heartland rock had it been released in the 1970s or 1980s, were now grouped into the alt-country category.
Heartland rock can be heard as an influence on artists as diverse as Billy Joel and Kid Rock. Kid Rock has performed in concert with John Mellencamp and recorded a duet with Bob Seger for the latter's Face the Promise album. Kid Rock's 2008 hit "All Summer Long" was inspired by Seger's classic "Night Moves" as well as "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd and "Werewolves of London" by Warren Zevon. American indie rock bands the Killers and the War on Drugs have been associated with the genre.
Alternative country (sometimes alt-country, insurgent country, or Americana) is a loosely defined subgenre of country music and rock music, which includes acts that differ significantly in style from mainstream country music and pop country music. Alternative country artists are often influenced by alternative rock. However, the term has been used to describe country music bands and artists that have incorporated influences from alternative rock, indie rock, roots rock, bluegrass, neotraditional country, punk rock, rockabilly, punkabilly, honky-tonk, outlaw country, folk rock, indie folk, folk revival, hard rock, R&B, country rock, heartland rock, and Southern rock.American rock
American rock has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and country music, and also drew on folk music, jazz, blues, and classical music. American rock music was further influenced by the British Invasion of the American pop charts from 1964 and resulted in the development of garage rock.
From the late 1960s and early 1970s, American rock music was highly influential in the development of a number of fusions, including blending with folk music to create folk rock, with blues to create blues rock, with country music to create country rock, roots rock and southern rock and with jazz to create jazz rock, all of which contributed to psychedelic rock. In the 1970s, rock developed a large number of subgenres, such as soft rock, hard rock, heavy metal, glam rock, progressive rock and punk rock.
New subgenres that were derived from punk and important in the 1980s included new wave, hardcore punk, post-punk, thrash, and alternative rock. In the 1990s, alternative rock broke through into the mainstream with grunge, and other significant subgenres included indie rock and nu metal. In the 2000s genres that emerged into the mainstream included emo, metalcore and there was a Garage rock/post-punk revival. The development of digital technology led to the development of new forms of digital electronic rock.Bob Seger
Robert Clark Seger (, born May 6, 1945) is an American singer-songwriter, guitarist and pianist. As a locally successful Detroit-area artist, he performed and recorded as Bob Seger and the Last Heard and Bob Seger System throughout the 1960s, breaking through with his first national hit and album in 1968. By the early 1970s, he had dropped the 'System' from his recordings and continued to strive for broader success with various other bands. In 1973, he put together the Silver Bullet Band, with a group of Detroit-area musicians, with whom he became most successful on the national level with the album Live Bullet (1976), recorded live with the Silver Bullet Band in 1975 at Cobo Hall in Detroit, Michigan. In 1976, he achieved a national breakout with the studio album Night Moves. On his studio albums, he also worked extensively with the Alabama-based Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, which appeared on several of Seger's best-selling singles and albums.
A roots rocker with a classic raspy, shouting voice, Seger wrote and recorded songs that deal with love, women, and blue-collar themes and is an example of a heartland rock artist. Seger has recorded many hits, including "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man", "Night Moves", "Turn the Page", "Still the Same", "We've Got Tonight", "Against the Wind", "You'll Accomp'ny Me", "Shame on the Moon", "Like a Rock", and "Shakedown", which was written for Beverly Hills Cop II (1987). Seger also co-wrote the Eagles' number-one hit "Heartache Tonight", and his recording of "Old Time Rock and Roll" was named one of the Songs of the Century in 2001.
With a career spanning six decades, Seger has sold more than 75 million records worldwide, making him one of the world's best-selling artists of all time. Seger was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2012. Seger was named Billboard's 2015 Legend of Live honoree at the 12th annual Billboard Touring Conference & Awards, held November 18–19 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York. He announced his farewell tour in September 2018.Danny and the Champions of the World
Danny and the Champions of the World are a heartland rock and soul band. Formed in London during the summer of 2007 by Danny George Wilson, the band have since released six studio albums and one live album. The band's name is an allusion to the novel Danny, the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl.Heartland (United States)
Heartland is an American political term referring to U.S. states that "don't touch an ocean," whether the Atlantic or Pacific, or to the Midwestern United States. The phrase not only refers to a tangible region but is also a cultural term connoting many ideas and values, such as hard work, rustic small town communities, rural heritage, simplicity, and honesty. Citizens of the Heartland—referred to as simply "Heartlanders"—are often seen as Blue collar.
Old North-West, Louisiana (colony of France) and Great Lakes region are traditional definition of the Mid-West. US Census Bureau said 12 states such as North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio are the Mid-West. These are typically associated with "Small Heartland". Large Heartland means "Small Heartland" plus Montana, Kentucky, Idaho, Colorado, Oklahoma, Nevada, West Virginia, Wyoming, Utah and Southern States Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.Jammin' Me
"Jammin' Me" is the first single from Let Me Up (I've Had Enough), a 1987 album by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. It is co-written by Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and Mike Campbell. The heartland rock tune has been included in Petty's 'best of' albums Playback and Anthology: Through the Years.Larry Crane (guitarist)
Larry Crane (born October 8, 1956) is an American rock musician and songwriter from Seymour, Indiana. From 1976 until 1991, he appeared alongside John Mellencamp as guitarist and contributor to the arrangements and production of the Mellencamp sound (often labelled as "heartland rock.")List of country genres
This is a list of music subgenres of country music.
Appalachian folk (a subgenre of Folk music)
Australian country music
Old-time bluegrass/Appalachian bluegrass
Traditional bluegrass/Neo-Traditional bluegrass
Canadian country music
Christian country music
Country blues (this is also considered a subgenre of Blues)
Country en Español
Country pop/Cosmopolitan country
Country rap (this is also considered a subgenre of Hip-Hop)
Gulf and western
Hokum (this is also considered a subgenre of Blues)
Honky tonk music
Old-time music/Hillbilly music (a subgenre of Folk music)
New Mexico music
Southern soul (this is also considered a subgenre of Soul)
Techno-Country (a Eurodance country style, popularized by the Rednex)
Traditional Country music
White power country
Zydeco (a subgenre of Folk music)List of songs recorded by Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift is an American singer-songwriter. She signed a record deal with Big Machine Records in 2005 and released her eponymous debut album in 2006. Swift wrote three of the album's tracks: "Our Song", "Should've Said No", and "The Outside". The remaining eight were co-written with writers Liz Rose, Robert Ellis Orrall, Brian Maher, and Angelo Petraglia. In 2007, she released her first extended play (EP) Sounds of the Season: The Taylor Swift Holiday Collection, which contains two original tracks written by her: "Christmases When You Were Mine" and "Christmas Must Be Something More".
Beautiful Eyes, Swift's second EP, was released in 2008 and features alternate takes of songs from her debut album as well as two new tracks; the title track and "I Heart ?". Swift wrote most of her songs from her second album, Fearless (2008) while she promoted her debut album as opening act for country artists. As collaborators were not available on the road, Swift self-penned eight of the tracks while the rest were co-written with Rose, Hillary Lindsey, Colbie Caillat, and John Rich. She contributed two songs, "Today Was a Fairytale" and "Jump Then Fall", to the Valentine's Day soundtrack, and recorded a cover of Better Than Ezra's "Breathless" for the Hope for Haiti Now album. Swift penned every track of her Speak Now (2010) album without any co-writers. The album expands on the country pop style of her previous work, and touches on themes of love, romance, and heartbreak.In late 2011, Swift contributed two original songs, "Safe & Sound", featuring duo The Civil Wars, and "Eyes Open", to The Hunger Games soundtrack album. Swift's fourth album Red (2012) marked a change in her musical style with the experimentation of heartland rock, dubstep, and dance-pop. In addition to collaborating with producer Nathan Chapman—who also recorded her first three albums—she worked with new producers, such as Dann Huff, Max Martin, and Shellback; the latter two also co-wrote the album with her. In 2013, she provided guest vocals for Tim McGraw's "Highway Don't Care", which features guitar work by Keith Urban, and performed "Sweeter Than Fiction" for the One Chance soundtrack album.
Swift released her fifth album 1989 in 2014. Credited as her "first documented, official pop album", it marks a departure from her previous country albums. It incorporates musical genres, such as dance-pop and synthpop, and is described as an album "driven by synths and drums in lieu of guitar". For the album, Swift worked with new writers, including Jack Antonoff and Ryan Tedder. As an executive producer alongside Martin, she enlisted her long-time collaborators Chapman and Shellback, and for the first time Noel Zancanella, Mattman & Robin, and Greg Kurstin. In December 2016, Swift recorded the song "I Don't Wanna Live Forever" for the film Fifty Shades Darker with British singer Zayn. On her sixth album Reputation (2017), Swift served as the executive producer, and worked with long-time collaborators Antonoff, Martin, Shellback, alongside new collaborators like Ali Payami, Oscar Göress and Oscar Holter.Michael Stanley
Michael Stanley (born March 25, 1948 as Michael Stanley Gee in Cleveland, Ohio) is an American singer-songwriter, musician, and radio personality. Both as a solo artist and with the Michael Stanley Band, his brand of heartland rock was popular in Cleveland and around the American Midwest in the 1970s and 1980s.Millionaire (Chris Stapleton song)
"Millionaire" is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Chris Stapleton for his third studio album From A Room: Volume 2 (2018). It was written by Kevin Welch in 2002, and soul singer Solomon Burke included it on his 2006 country music tribute album Nashville.
The song was released as a promotional single of Volume 2 on October 20, 2017, and was released to country radio as the album's first single on April 23, 2018. The song received a nomination for Best Country Solo Performance at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards.Patrolled By Radar
Patrolled By Radar is a roots rock trio based in Los Angeles. The band blends alt-country, blues and soul with "equal parts British invasion, cow-punk and Americana ... songwriting respected as craft."
"Patrolled By Radar (PBR) is a band surely making a name for them self [sic] by being honest in their rhythms and passionate in their words." "Jay Souza's full of character, melodic, yet rough around the edges vocals are perfectly suited to the music on these tremendously well written songs."After dismantling his group 50 Cent Haircut, which had been an institution in the US southwest for over a decade and performed over 1000 shows, folksinger and songsmith Souza formed PBR in 2010 alongside lead guitarist and longtime band mate Bosco Sheff, both of whom are from Boston, Massachusetts.
Shortly thereafter they were joined by drummer Ben Johnsen, a veteran of the New York City music scene and Hackensack, New Jersey native. Hailing from Paisley, Scotland, sound postproduction Emmy-winner Preston Mann played with the group on Hammond Organ and piano from 2012-14.
Managed for their first two years by Knitting Factory Entertainment CEO, Morgan Margolis, they released their debut full-length recording, "Be Happy", in June 2011, on Knitting Factory Records. Recorded and mixed by Grammy-nominated producer Peter Curry of the group Los Straitjackets, the record received high marks and stellar reviews. On that momentum, they toured in direct support of Grammy winners Los Lonely Boys, playing to capacity audiences in concert theaters throughout the Pacific Northwest and Midwest. A review of their performance at The Wilma Theater in Missoula, Montana, described PBR as "classic heartland rock and roll, providing an old school Bob Dylan and The Band vibe."In 2013, the group independently released a full-length studio record of unique covers titled "Cards, Gifts & Caskets Vol. 1". They have finished a full-length original record titled "Cool Your Jets", set for release early 2014. Both were produced by Peter Curry.
"With a timeless narrative style" PBR is a consummate bar band in the 1970s Pub Rock tradition and have collectively played with Porter Wagoner, Marty Stuart, Taj Mahal, Dave Davies Kinks Chronicles, The Jayhawks, Tim Finn and Richard Thompson, Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs, and The Gourds.
"A mixture of Bob Dylan lyrics with Ray Davies passion, add a dash of Johnny Cash swagger and throw in a Wilco-type musical journey and you have Patrolled By Radar."Perry Keyes
Perry Keyes (born 1966) is an Australian singer-songwriter.
Keyes is based in Waterloo, Sydney and grew up in nearby Redfern. Former singer-songwriter with Sydney band the Stolen Holdens, Keyes' output is best described as heartland rock in that the lyrics detail the minutiae of the seamier side of existence in and around the working class Sydney suburbs. Keyes has been acclaimed as "Redfern's answer to Bruce Springsteen".His debut double album Meter was released in 2005. Second album The Last Ghost Train Home was named Radio National album of the year and was a finalist for the 2007 Australian Music Prize. 2010's Johnny Ray's Downtown was followed by Sunnyholt in 2015, the first part of a two-album series. Jim Salmon's Lament is due for release October 5, 2018.
Keyes is a supporter of his hometown rugby league club the South Sydney Rabbitohs.Rock music
Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United Kingdom and in the United States. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily on the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly on a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Typically, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.
By the late 1960s "classic rock" period, a number of distinct rock music subgenres had emerged, including hybrids like blues rock, folk rock, country rock, raga rock, and jazz-rock, many of which contributed to the development of psychedelic rock, which was influenced by the countercultural psychedelic and hippie scene. New genres that emerged included progressive rock, which extended the artistic elements; glam rock, which highlighted showmanship and visual style; and the diverse and enduring subgenre of heavy metal, which emphasized volume, power, and speed. In the second half of the 1970s, punk rock reacted by producing stripped-down, energetic social and political critiques. Punk was an influence in the 1980s on new wave, post-punk and eventually alternative rock. From the 1990s alternative rock began to dominate rock music and break into the mainstream in the form of grunge, Britpop, and indie rock. Further fusion subgenres have since emerged, including pop punk, electronic rock, rap rock, and rap metal, as well as conscious attempts to revisit rock's history, including the garage rock/post-punk and techno-pop revivals at the beginning of the 2000s.
Rock music has also embodied and served as the vehicle for cultural and social movements, leading to major subcultures including mods and rockers in the UK and the hippie counterculture that spread out from San Francisco in the US in the 1960s. Similarly, 1970s punk culture spawned the goth, punk, and emo subcultures. Inheriting the folk tradition of the protest song, rock music has been associated with political activism as well as changes in social attitudes to race, sex and drug use, and is often seen as an expression of youth revolt against adult consumerism and conformity.Roots rock
Roots rock is rock music that looks back to rock's origins in folk, blues and country music. It is particularly associated with the creation of hybrid subgenres from the later 1960s including country rock and Southern rock, which have been seen as responses to the perceived excesses of dominant psychedelic and developing progressive rock. Because roots music (Americana) is often used to mean folk and world musical forms, roots rock is sometimes used in a broad sense to describe any rock music that incorporates elements of this music. In the 1980s, roots rock enjoyed a revival in response to trends in punk rock, new wave and heavy metal music.Start the Car
Start the Car is the third solo album from the singer/songwriter Jude Cole. Released in 1992, five years after his self-titled debut solo album.
After A View from Third Street, Jude Cole shifted to a more heartland rock sound. Nowhere is that more evident than the disc's title song first track, a combination of Springsteen/Mellencamp that rocks more than his previous two albums. It features the polished heartbreak of "Tell the Truth", the sad sack story of "First Your Money" and the been-there, done-that weary world of "A Place in the Line".The Flaming Ember
The Flaming Ember was an American blue-eyed soul band from Detroit, Michigan, who found commercial success starting in the late 1960s.
The group originally formed in Detroit, Michigan in 1964. At that time, they were known as The Flaming Embers, for a local Detroit restaurant. In 1969, they signed with the newly formed Hot Wax Records, (the label founded by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Edward Holland, Jr.), after the band had recorded for a number of smaller Detroit-area labels since 1965. They recorded for Ed Wingate's Ric Tic label in 1967, but when Berry Gordy, Jr.'s Motown Records purchased Golden Records/Ric-Tic from Wingate, the Flaming Ember chose not to sign with Motown.
The band dropped the "s" from its name and scored a pop and rhythm and blues hit with "Mind, Body and Soul" in 1969 (#26 on the US Billboard pop singles chart), their signature song (and heartland rock antecedent) "Westbound #9" (#24 US pop, #15 US Billboard R&B chart), and "I'm Not My Brother's Keeper" (#34 pop, #12 R&B), all released between late 1969 and late 1970.
The group's follow-up efforts such as 1971's "Stop the World and Let Me Off" were not as successful, and after changing their name to Mind, Body and Soul they spent the rest of the 1970s playing the Detroit bar circuit.
The band was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 1999.The Flaming Embers reunited in 2004, played at the Rockabilly Festival in Tennessee and completed a CD.The Shelters
The Shelters are a rock band formed in 2015 in Los Angeles, California by Chase Simpson, Josh Jove, Sebastian Harris, and Jacob Pillot. Besides Pillot, all members had previously played in the band Automatik Slim. Jove and Simpson have credits on Tom Petty’s 2014 album Hypnotic Eye.Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (alternately Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers) was an American rock band from Gainesville, Florida. Formed in 1976, the band originally comprised Tom Petty (lead singer, guitar), Mike Campbell (lead guitarist), Ron Blair (bass guitar), Stan Lynch (drums), and Benmont Tench (keyboards). In 1981, Blair, weary of the touring lifestyle, departed the band. His replacement, Howie Epstein, stayed with the band for the next two decades. In 1991, Scott Thurston joined the band as a multi-instrumentalist—mostly on rhythm guitar and second keyboards. Blair returned to the Heartbreakers in 2002, the year before Epstein's death. In 1994, Steve Ferrone replaced Lynch on drums. The band is best known for the hit singles "American Girl", "Breakdown", "The Waiting", "Learning to Fly", "Refugee" and "Mary Jane's Last Dance".
The band's music has been characterized as both Southern rock and heartland rock, cited alongside artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger, and John Mellencamp as progenitors of that genre that arose in the late 1970s and 1980s. While the heartland rock movement waned in the 1990s, the band remained active and popular, touring regularly until Petty's death in 2017, after which the Heartbreakers disbanded. Their final studio album, Hypnotic Eye, was released in 2014.
Although most of their material was produced and performed under the name "The Heartbreakers", Petty released three solo albums, the most successful of which was Full Moon Fever (1989). In these releases, some members of the band contributed as collaborators, producing and performing as studio musicians.