Darius Rucker on the Timing of Things

College Gave Him the Freedom to Play All Night

You probably already know the story of how Darius Rucker got his start in the music business.

He started a band when he was at the University of South Carolina, and that band — Hootie & the Blowfish — went on to be one of the best-selling and most popular rock bands of the ’90s.

And when I caught up with Rucker in Nashville last week, he told me he wouldn’t have it any other way and that the timing of his music was perfect.

“I was glad I never started any bands in high school. Hootie & the Blowfish was my very first band,” Rucker told me about the group he formed with friends in the ’80s.

“In college, you don’t have all of the constraints of living with your parents and worrying about being home by curfew. When you’re in college, you can be in a band, play all night, and write songs all night if you want to.

“You have time to get to know yourself, and get to know your band members. Traveling from town to town on the weekends playing shows — those college years are the best time to do that because you have the freedom to do those things.”

After college, Rucker and his band were still playing those gigs, and writing those songs. One in particular comes back to him vividly even though he wrote it about 25 years ago.

“I remember writing ‘Let Her Cry’ like it was yesterday,” he told me of the song that went on to win a Grammy in 1996.

“I was by myself. I’d gone out that night, and I’d heard ‘She Talks To Angels’ by The Black Crowes for the first time, and it blew my mind. I thought, ‘This is genius.’ I came home late, pulled out Bonnie Raitt‘s Home Plate record and listened to it while I played video games.

“When the record was over, I said, ‘I’m gonna write a song like The Black Crowes one for Bonnie Raitt.’ I wrote ‘Let Her Cry’ that night,” he said, adding, “I still want her to cut it.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.