Wild And Free

Album: Electric Mountain (2022)
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Songfacts®:

  • In the early days of the pandemic, Nashville singer-songwriter Derek Hoke would take long drives in the wee hours of the morning as the sun came up. The breaking dawn inspired a feeling of hope that he carried into the studio when he recorded "Wild And Free" for his Electric Mountain album.

    "It was part of that feeling of being in the dark behind the wheel, but this new day is dawning around you and it's almost like it's only for you, 'cause there's no other cars on the road - you're on these back roads and stuff," he told the Songfacts podcast. "And it just came back to everything's gonna be okay. There's light at the end of this darkness."
  • This is the first single from Electric Mountain, Hoke's first collection of new music since 2017's Bring The Flood. The latter album was a moody endeavor about American dystopia, inspired by the onslaught of dark news stories that haunted the singer at the time. "There were a lot of depressing songs on that record, but I guess I needed to get that out," he admitted.

    Hoke was determined to escape the darkness on Electric Mountain, despite the pandemic that took over the world during its creation. He said, "One of the first things in my mind about this record was like, we have to steer back toward a more positive outlook - even with the pandemic and stuff like that going on, it's like, this isn't gonna bring me down. I've already felt that way, and I don't like feeling that way - like down and depressed and stuff."
  • This started out as a long, Grateful Dead-like jam, but Hoke decided to cut it down and have it fade out at the end.

    "'Wild And Free' is an acoustic song that I wanted to have build and build and build," he explained. "Originally it was about 10 minutes long and we edited the end off, as it just kept going, which would be too much for some people. The idea was to start small with a chorus of voices. I think of it as driving through the desert as the sun's coming up, as the idea."
  • Hoke enlisted Nashville steelman Mike Daly - who performs in Travis Tritt's and Hank Williams Jr.'s bands - to play pedal steel on the track.

    "I love the pedal steel, and I like that sound more than a string section coming in or something orchestral like that," Hoke said. "So it kind of replaces that, but then adds this kind of country element to it as well. It also adds this wide open spaces thing, 'cause that pedal steel just has a high lonesome vibe to it."
  • This is one of several tracks on the album that features backing vocals from psychedelic folk singer-songwriter Thayer Sarrano.

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