Texas Tailgate: Jon Hope “Horse of a Different Color”

Sometimes it’s worth the shot. If it wasn’t for blindly sending out a message, Jon Hope wouldn’t have connected with his latest writing partner. “I co-wrote [the song] with Dusty Tanner,” he explains. “Dusty had written a couple songs for Hayden Haddock. I can’t remember if it was Facebook or if he sent me an email, but he said he’d written those songs for Hayden and if I’d be interested in co-writing. It kind of evolved. We’ve now written three tunes together long distance. We’d written three tunes before we’d met face-to-face. It’s the wonder of digital technology.”

With Horse of a Different Color, Jon knew they were on to something. “This was one of those songs that when he sent it to me I knew it was good. It’s about those strong, independent women with a little bit of a wild streak. There’s not a person on Earth that can tame them. They are going to be who they are even if they break your heart. I instantly liked it.”

Just like a baby being born, Jon imprinted on the song immediately. “The way I see a song develop is like raising a child. The conception, you have an idea. You write the song and put music to it, it’s a toddler. You mess with it and push it to be the way you want it to sound, and then you take it to the studio. I’ve been pleasantly surprised a couple times because I think we’ve got a solid song but then it becomes this fully grown thing. I had an idea where I wanted it to go but this turned out really good. Hopefully you do the same thing with your kids. Raise them up and they get grown. You think you did a pretty good job. I think they’re ok.” It’s that time and effort that has made Jon protective of his songs. “As a songwriter, we’re sharing a personal idea. Something we put love into, something to share with other people. You feel the same way about your kids. You don’t want your kids to be little jerks and go out into the world to piss people off. You want a well rounded child. Same thing for the writer. You don’t necessarily want it to go out there and people be turned off by it. You want people to accept it. To say “I like this”.

To help bring this baby into the world, Jon went to an old friend and producer. “We recorded this song at Bunkhouse Recording Studio in Crowley, TX. Right in the middle of Johnson County. My producer is William Wallace, a phenomenal musician. Has a great ear. Played on tour with Toby Keith and Kyle Bennett. I don’t know what it is about drummers making great producers, but he’s no exception to that rule.” Having worked with William extensively, the artist/producer duo are usually in lockstep. “It’s not like we have to fumble around in the dark. We see eye to eye on the vision of the song. Ninety-nine percent of the time we’re together on it. Not a whole lot of guesswork. It’s just ‘let’s do it’.” This is Jon’s thirteenth song recorded with Bunkhouse Recording, but even with that history Jon was leary of sending the final to his writing partner. “Dusty is a great dude to work with. He’s easy. I was a little nervous when we got it done. I didn’t know if he’d love it or hate it. He may think this sucks. He could say it wasn’t the way he wan’t it to be. Not the way he heard it in his mind. I was cringing, hitting the send button on the email.” He was relieved that Dusty loved the finished master, but Jon makes no apologies for getting emotionally invested in his songs. “You have to have an emotional connect or you’re just putting words on a page.” Find more Jon Hope on his website.

Horse of a Different Color will be available 9/23 on all streaming platforms. Presave it now.

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