Country Musician Trace Adkins's Bravado Belies Kindness Beneath
Friday, July 3, 2009
If you're not familiar with Trace Adkins's music, you might be tempted to dismiss it as simple, formulaic and slightly sexist. He devotes one song, "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk," to a woman's posterior.
"There ought to be a law/Get the sheriff on the phone/Lord have mercy, how'd she even get them britches on?/That Honky Tonk Badonkadonk," he sings.
A video for another tune, "Ladies Love Country Boys," depicts the blond-haired, black-cowboy-hat-wearing Adkins strutting down a city street, with a herd of women trailing him.
"They raised her up a lady/But there's one thing they couldn't avoid/Ladies love country boys," the song goes.
Adkins, 47, who performs Saturday at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf, is a guy's guy. The confident (not cocky, he says) country singer calls himself an alpha male. He is 6-foot-6 after all. From a small town in Louisiana, the oldest of three boys, Adkins played football for Louisiana Tech University. After college, he worked in the Gulf of Mexico for 10 years on an oil rig where he accidentally cut off one of his fingers. Later, he once got so drunk he ran himself over with a tractor. He was even shot. Through the heart. By his wife. (They're divorced now.)
"I've cheated death several times," Adkins says. And that's just fine with him. "There is no greater adrenaline rush than when you think there's a possibility you're about to die."
He just may not tell that to his five daughters, ages 4, 7, 11, 20 and 24.
This is the part of Adkins you might miss if you judge him too quickly. He's a dad. He's shy. He's reflective. Dig a little deeper into his 10-album repertoire and you will find the softer side of Adkins on such songs as "Then They Do," narrated by a dad watching his kids, and "Happy to Be Here," in which Adkins sings, "I shouldn't be alive/ I've seen the other side/ All I can say is I'm just happy to be here."
Adkins knows he's lucky to perform music for a living. He doesn't take himself too seriously. And neither, he says, should you.
"I know that the criticism is gonna come, and, hey, people who are going through life being offended by songs are leading pretty miserable lives. They need to lighten up a bit," he says.
Adkins's success is storybook material. At 30, he recalls, he moved to Nashville at the prodding of a club owner who told him: "I wonder what would happen if you threw down the pompoms and really got in the game. You need to go to Nashville."
He did, figuring he was "just as good a singer as most of the guys I was hearing on the radio. I didn't see any reason why I couldn't do it, too," he says.