OFFSTAGE: The Day Will Hoge Quit His Day Job

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

Singer-songwriter Will Hoge taught himself how to play guitar when he was a senior in high school. Then he taught himself how to write songs. Then, at last, he quit his day job. “I was working at Planet Hollywood in Nashville. I had to wear that black Jams shirt with yellow rockets all over it,” Hoge told me over lunch during his recent visit to Chicago. “One day, I was getting ready for work, and I just looked at myself in the mirror and was like, ’That’s it. No more.’ So I called my manager and said I wasn’t coming in. Ever.” Good call. Because that was in the late ’90s, and Hoge’s done pretty well for himself since he decided to make music his priority. Since 1997, he’s released more than a dozen albums and is now nominated for an ACM award for song of the year. The nomination is for his song “Even if It Breaks Your Heart,” which the Eli Young Band took to the top of the country charts. But it’s Hoge’s new song — “Another Song Nobody Will Hear” — that tells the truest story of what Nashville taught him about existing on the edge of the country-rock world: “The first thing that I found out/Is that truth don’t always sell/They want songs about the back roads/Tractors, trucks and beer/While I write another song nobody will hear.”