There are two types of country music these days and no, we’re not talking about country and western. There is what has become the slick, made for tv, Music Row machine country and then there’s the grittier side. The side where songs are paramount and the only thing that matters more than the stories are the melodies they ride on. The side where country music is still unabashedly country.
The latter is the side where George Shingleton resides. There’s a lost honesty in country music like Shingleton’s and that’s on display in his newest song, “Handful of Hell,” which American Songwriter is proud to premiere.
“This is a song that is about my wife. It’s a little bit of our story,” muses George. “I guess I wasn’t always as tame and docile as I am today. Emily (my wife) turned that around when we met. She inspired me without even knowing or trying on her part, really, and made me realize that I could live better than I was living.”
Unafraid to call the baby ugly, Shingleton is brutally honest in his admission of the fact that he is without a doubt the luckier party of the package.
‘I was born a fighter, yeah an out all nighter, smoke and whiskey ain’t no strangers to me,’ paints a pretty sordid picture of exactly the kind of person Shingleton was when he met his wife. Thankfully for George, there is truth to the old adage that opposites attract because as the second half of that first verse goes: ‘She’s a saint though and wears a golden halo, she’s not much for sin, she keeps her soul clean.’
“The hook for it started coming around a few years ago. I was thinking about how lucky I am to have Emily, and I was questioning what I did to deserve her. It kept shaping itself into those three words “handful of hell.”
While the song may have simmered inside Shingleton for some time, once the fuse was lit the path from idea to stage has been void of many hurdles. Co-written with Chris Paterno in one of their early writing sessions, the song took shape fairly easily. As soon as George played it for his producer Dave Pahanish, Pahanish wanted to take it into the studio. Once the recorded version was complete, they both felt like it could be a single.
“We’ve been playing this song occasionally live, and people seem like they’re taking to it pretty quickly. As an artist/writer, if you can put your true feelings into a song, and the majority of folks listening can relate to it, you feel like you’ve done your job.”
If you dig the tune, consider a pre-save or pre-order.