Dierks Bentley can't really explain it. It seems like after 15 years of trying to be a big country star, he finally is. But he isn't sure of why -- or why now.
"I was trying to make headlining happen, and sometimes you can't do that just through work, you have to let the music steer the way, I guess," Bentley told Billboard before one of his many sold-out shows this summer. "I don't know how the hell I'm here, really, but something's happening. Ten years into my career, I'm headlining these places, but I wouldn't have it any other way, man. It's been a great climb. A slow climb."
(Like the old Alan Jackson song "Chasin' That Neon Rainbow" says, once you make it up to Music Row, "Lordy, don't the wheels turn slow.")
But Bentley seems proud of the fact that letting the music steer him put him where he is right now.
"It's nice to be able to say that we put the music first, and when you do that, good things can happen far beyond what you could actually try to make happen," he said.
His latest No. 1 "Drunk on a Plane" may deserve a little bit of the credit for piquing the interest of new fans, which is ironic when you consider that Bentley almost didn't consider putting it on the album.
"I didn't even know if I wanted that song to be on the album, and I didn't think it should be the next single," he said.
Bentley is going to join Luke Bryan on Aug. 31 to play Chicago's Soldier Field. And who knows, maybe in a couple years, if the music is still in the driver's seat, Bentley will be headlining there, too.