Darius Rucker Pays Homage To His Late Mother With His First Album In Six Years, ‘Carolyn’s Boy’
The country star dubbed this project one of his most personal albums to date.
Darius Rucker; Photo by Jim Wright
It’s been six years since Darius Rucker dropped his last album, When Was The Last Time, and today, he graces fans with Carolyn’s Boy, a brand-new collection that not only honors his late mother but also reflects years of songwriting and growth as an artist.
Since dropping his 2016 project, Rucker admits he’s made an effort to be especially present in his family life as his kids move onto new chapters of their own. However, along the way, he was slowly, but surely building out his newest collection of songs, making sure he curated a track list that best reflects his memories of his mom and the current state of his career.
He Wanted The “Right Songs”
“I didn’t feel like I was in a rush because I was making the record, but I was also having fun. My kids were leaving, Jack was leaving home and Dani (Daniella) was in college and Cary (Carolyn) moved here to Nashville. I was doing the things I love to do, and so I really didn’t want to rush,” Rucker told Country Now and other media outlets. “And I wanted the right songs. I knew I wanted songs that were important to me and personal to me. So I just took my time and I’m at a really good point in my life where I just like to enjoy it. I love to work, but I also like to put the work down and just go be dad or go play golf or just be a normal human being for a little while.”
While discussing his decision to pay homage to his mother in this chapter of his career, Rucker explained that it comes as a token of gratitude for the unending support she offered him growing up. Even when he decided to drop out of college to join the band Hootie & the Blowfish, his mother stuck by his side and encouraged his musical dreams when no one else did.
Unfortunately, Carolyn passed away before ever getting to see Rucker’s success, so this album is the chance for him to tribute “the greatest woman” he’s ever known by showing the world a small taste of the incredible impact she had on his life.
Says His Mom Was “Always In My Corner”
“She was my biggest supporter. She was always in my corner. Back when I was a real young kid trying to get into rock & roll and country and being told that wasn’t the music I was supposed to be listening to, she was my biggest supporter, my biggest leave him alone person, you know, ‘let him listen to what he wants to listen to,”’ Rucker recalled. “I remember when I told her I was dropping out of college to play in Hootie, I thought she was going to kill me. I really thought she was going to kill me. But she didn’t. She said, ‘if that’s what you need to do’…because she always believed that I was going to make it, probably a lot more than I did.”
He continued, “It was funny because I was in the studio, the only way I can explain it is I was just having a bad day, a bad mental health day and I sat down at one point and I just said to myself that really, at the end of the day, I’m just my mama’s boy. And that was the day, that was when I decided to name it Carolyn’s Boy. That was an epiphany for me and that helped a lot.”
Album Cover Explained
Even the cover art for the album ties back to Darius Rucker’s roots as he chose one of his favorite images of his mom that will forever be cherished by him and his family members. He revealed that the sepia-toned photo was captured at a time when Carolyn was 25 years old and working as a nurse.
“Once I decided I was going to name it Carolyn’s Boy, I knew the picture I was going to use. That’s our favorite family picture, every family member has that picture in their house,” he explained. “She instilled everything in me that’s good, my philanthropy, the way I care about people, being nice all the time…my mom used to say all the time, ‘it’s so much easier to be nice than to be a jerk,’ but she didn’t say jerk. That wasn’t the word she used. She’s just everything good in me. I always believe, and I hope that I became the man that she was trying to raise.”
One Of His Most Personal Projects To Date
Beginning with Rucker’s 10th career No. 1 hit, “Beers And Sunshine,” the project features several previous releases including “Have A Good Time,” “Life Me Up,” “Ol’ Church Hymn” featuring Chapel Hart, “Same Beer Different Problem,” his current single, “Fires Don’t Start Themselves,” and his newest, feel-good song, “Southern Comfort.”
Each of these tunes mixed with a slew of brand-new tracks such as “Sure Would Have Loved Her,” “3am in Carolina,” “Stargazing,” and a cover of Rhianna’s “Life Me Up,” make up what he considers to be one of his most personal records to date.
“I think a lot of those songs were chosen because the record was named Carolyn’s Boy, and comfort was something that I really wanted this record to exude. You have your moments that aren’t, but it’s comfort and just being okay with who you are, being okay in your skin and living that way,” Darius Rucker shared before emphasizing that his reasoning behind incorporating these messages was a direct result of the comfort his mom gave him each day until her passing.
Listeners hear themes of friendship, positivity, and solace that all swell together to represent the tremendous amount of love Rucker felt from his mom throughout her life. Several of the tracks like “In This Together” and “Have A Good Time” also reflect the current times as he hones in on the need for togetherness in a divided world.
“It’s so divisive and the one thing that we all know is that no matter what, we have to live together,” he shared. “We got to go to the grocery store. We’ve got to socialize and those songs are definitely about that. They were both written during the pandemic and I think that’s what it was. It was just, you know, we need to be better, is really what it all comes down to. We just need to be better.”
Rucker serves as a co-writer on 11 of the 14 tracks alongside fellow critically acclaimed songwriters, Ed Sheeran, HARDY, Ross Copperman, Josh Osborne, and more.
Reflecting On His Country Career
When Darius Rucker first announced his album via social media, he reflected on the start of his career, moving to Nashville and trying to find his place in country music. All these years later, he fought through many closed doors and obstacles to proudly be able to say that he has found his place in the industry and is now able to serve as a mentor for the next generation of artists. Carolyn’s Boy is the perfect example of his journey of determination that has gotten him to this point.
“Coming here 16 years ago as the outsider, it took me a minute before I felt comfortable. Then I felt comfortable after a couple years and then the Opry happened and, I felt like I was part of it. But this record really seems like I’m becoming one of the elder statesmen now. I’ve been here for almost 16 years I’ve been doing this and it just feels right. It just feels like a no-brainer now. There’s no trepidation…there’s no bad things. It’s just like now I’m part of the landscape. I’m part of what country music is and that makes me very proud.”
Throughout the summer, the South Carolina native has performed his new music in front of fans all over the country on his Starting Fires Tour. Next up, he will take his extensive catalog of hits across the pond for a run of European tour dates in early 2024. The Starting Fires UK Tour will launch on April 27, 2024 in Manchester.
Darius Rucker will also celebrate the release of his new album during the second year of his Riverfront Revival Music Festival. This two-day festival will take place Oct. 7-8 in Rucker’s hometown of Charleston, S.C.
Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.