Oh, the age-old relationship between a man, his heartache, and his bottle — in this case, between John Driskell Hopkins and whiskey.
In his latest single “I Hate to See Good Whiskey Go to Waste,” he captures his genuine love for his drink of choice in an anthemic ballad serenading not only his glass, but the woman who hurt him enough to make him turn to it.
Known as a multi-instrumentalist and founding member in the Grammy Award-winning Zac Brown Band, Hopkins is showing off his strength as a vocalist in this song with two a capella sections: a full 40-second intro, and a shorter two-line break in the bridge. The production in the rest of the song, true to its country and Americana nature, is minimal, continuing to let each little inflection convey his emotions throughout. The focus on the vocals creates a personal touch to the song, just as Hopkins intended.
“I Hate to See Good Whiskey Go to Waste” precedes his fifth studio record, which is slated to release on February 19th of this year and features Coy Bowles, collaborator on title track “Lonesome High,” and Emily Sailers. His numerous other projects, including involvement in the bands The Dappled Grays, Balsam Range and Brighter Shade, have kept him busy over the years. He’s also released three holiday albums since 2016.
The Texas-born, Georgia-raised musician wrote this ode to his lost love with Jerry Salley, a Nashville songwriting veteran who has cut upwards of 300 songs over the course of his career. The collaboration is an exemplary product of their combined expertise, both reminiscent of old, good country but with a contemporary sound that qualifies it to be radio-ready today.
One of the greatest strengths of the song is how dynamic it is. The suspenseful a capella interludes are met with cheerful swells that build back into the instrumental, filled with a bright piano accompaniment, a crooning fiddle, and of course, a strumming guitar. The scene is set in a bar stocked with shelves full of unappreciated “good stuff” and a number of tragedies are relayed, including a bottle breaking by a wasteful crowd. A title-inspired song that the rest of the lyrics were written around, each verse cleanly circles back around to the focal point in a satisfying thematic resolution.
The style of the song is very similar to his work with the Zac Brown Band, so if you are a fan of their country rock instrumentation and blue collar vocals, surely you will be smitten with the solo work of John Driskell Hopkins.