Dierks Bentley is nominated for the CMA album of the year award for Riser, so it’s safe to say he’s the favorite of a lot of music industry big shots.
But Bentley’s got a few favorites of his own.
Namely, Hank Williams Jr.‘s Born to Boogie.
“Every song on that album is awesome. I can’t say enough good things about Hank Jr. and his influence on all of us in country music,” Bentley told People magazine . “He’s that guy that came in with all the vibrato and great songs, great lyrics that were really relevant to the times.”
Bentley wasn’t even a teenager when that album was released, but just like a CMA album of the year winner should, it stood the test of time and was still vital when Bentley finally discovered it.
The year Born to Boogie won (1988), it beat out strong contenders such as George Strait‘s If You Ain’t Lovin’ You Ain’t Livin’, Vern Gosdin‘s Chiseled in Stone, Rodney Crowell‘s Diamonds and Dirt and Kathy Mattea‘s Untasted Honey.
That was a good era for country music. Really good. Which is why it’s damn near impossible to pick an all-time favorite. The year before Williams won, Randy Travis took home the prize with Always and Forever. I’m sure that title tops a lot of country fans’ lists.
But if I was forced to choose one like Bentley did, I couldn’t. It would be a tie between the 1991 and 1992 winners: Garth Brooks‘ No Fences and his Ropin’ the Wind, respectively.
“There was kind of this roller coaster of grief to gratitude going on,” Bentley said of Riser. “It ended up being a reflection of what the last two years were like for me. … The album is about my life more so than any other record I have ever written or recorded.”
This is Bentley’s third CMA nomination for album of the year. In 2010, Up on the Ridge was beat out by Miranda Lambert‘s Revolution, and then in 2012, Home was nominated, but Eric Church took the prize home for Chief.
The CMA Awards show airs live Wednesday (Nov. 5) on ABC.