Exclusive: Rodney Atkins Discusses New Single, 'Caught Up in the Country'

Rodney Atkins is back at radio with a new single! The 48-year-old is releasing "Caught Up in the Country," the debut single from his upcoming new album, on Friday, March 23.

"When I heard the song – we thought we were finished with the record," Akins tells PopCulture.com of the tune, written by Mike Walker, Jordan Schmidt and Connie Harrington. "And thank goodness that I've been around long enough and have relationships with publishers and writers in town that they just send me songs. We don't go through the normal hierarchy or people people listening to songs for you. Usually I just get songs myself, and I listen."

From the moment Akins heard "Caught Up in the Country," it resonated so strongly with him that he knew he had to record it. But it wasn't until a chance performance with the famed Fisk Jubliee Singers, that he decided to include them on the track as well.

"This song got me somehow," Atkins acknowledges. "I couldn't really put my finger on it. I'd just done an event with the Fisk Jubilee Singers at the Ryman. And those kids just blew my doors off. When I rehearsed with them, my wife Rose was there with me, and I turned and look at her at one point – we were singing 'Working on a Building,' and it's just crazy up-tempo, and they're clapping, stomping, and hallelujah-ing. And she's got tears in her eyes. It was that spiritual thing. I've always tried to have that component somehow in the music somehow. 'If You're Going Through Hell' does that. I think 'Take a Back Road; can kind of lift you up like that."

"Caught Up in the Country," which says, "Caught up in the country / The only way I wanna be / Somewhere where the road ends / Out there where the creek bends / That's where you can find me," had, for Atkins, a spiritual significance as well.

"We're not talking about country music per se, we're just talking about country," he explains. "Talking about the outdoors, and those elements that keep me grounded and lift me up at the same time. Country music is this kind of a song that can kind of, I think, lift people up and they sing along with you, and you forget where you are when you're listening to it."

"It's pretty cliché, pretty metaphorical but, some people go to church and think about fishing, and some people go fishing and think about God," he continues. "And that's kind of the way outdoors has been to me. And why I like being outside, why I prefer it."

It's been six years since Atkins' last record, Take a Back Road, was released. In an industry where artists typically create a new album every two years, Atkins stayed determined to not create something until he knew he had something to say.

"I's been a battle," concedes the singer. "I've had the people around me want a new album every year. And I said I can't do it. One of the big things that helped was when they had the Most Played Songs of the Decade recently. And we had six songs on there, and 'Watching You,' a four minute story song about a little kid was the most played song of the decade.

"If You're Going Through Hell took me five years to make that record. This album takes that long," Atkins says. "I'm hard-headed, I'm like a mule, I just don't move. And I think that people kind of gave up and said, 'All right, we'll do it at his pace, and let the whole machine keep rocking along. And then when this stuff is ready, he'll let us know.' And they've allowed me to do that."

Although most artists eventually give in to pressure, from their label or fans – or both – Atkins is grateful that he has stayed his course.

"I really don't know how I haven't fallen into that," he says. "I just don't like hype. I definitely don't believe my own. I still struggle to even think I'm any good at all. And I think that's a driving force."

Download "Caught Up in the Country" on iTunes.

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Photo Credit: EB Media PR/Joseph Llanes