Get to Know Riley Green, a Man With a One-Track Mind
Riley Green knows his parents worried about him. The "In Love by Now" singer and newest Taste of Country RISERS pick wasn't great at school and kept late hours even before he started a country music hobby.
"My mom just wanted me to make it to 22," he says, smiling. "She said when I turned 22 her job was done — I was alive. I was a little bit rambunctious, I guess."
A little rambunctious and a little umm ... distracted. Like so many kids growing up in the South, Green had one thing on his mind most days, but his focus would seem to shift depending on the season. Duck season, turkey season, deer season ... if it was alive and he could get a license to hunt it, Green was in. He still is.
"I can honestly say I dated a girl for a little while and if I ever got looking off in a trance or something she'd say, 'You're thinking about turkeys aren't you?'" the 30-year-old singer and songwriter recalls. "And I was!"
"Duck hunting is one of those things where I was mad at 'em. I had to go out there. If they were flying, I had to go out there and see where they were at. That started in high school, 16 or 17 years old. Like I said it was a really good way to connect with family and friends."
A true love of the outdoors and the hours spent alone, reflecting as he waited for his game to creep close can be found all over Green's music. He sings about trucks, heartbreak, family and Southern pride with freedom and wild enthusiasm not found in those raised between four thick concrete walls. His production team matches the open-air spirit of songs like "There Was This Girl" making each one sound perfect in a truck throttling down the road with the windows down.
Green's mom taught him about Fleetwood Mac, while his dad introduced him to the Band and '90s country greats. "He had an old 8-track of John Anderson's 'Just a-swingin' that I used to dance to as a kid. There's a lot of videos of that I'm sure will surface as my career continues," he says.
Green's biography wouldn't be complete without mention of his grandfather. Buford Green died in 2010, but he built the Golden Saw Music Hall on his property and celebrated great local music, encouraging anyone who was willing to take the stage.
"The best way I can describe it is there's a tree in the kitchen when you walk in and there's like a raccoon in it and a hornet's nest in it," the singer says casually. "For show, not alive. And there's a possum on a string they hang up from the stage and they play some song about running a possum over and cooking it that night."
It's there at the Golden Saw that Green learned about the legends and picked up some stage experience that would serve him well after his semester at college. He was a covers artist at first, but slowly got bored with that, so he introduced one of his originals, "Bury Me in Dixie."
"The crowd went nuts when I was playing it," he remembers. "I've never been the type of singer that could just blow somebody away. It had to be the words or the story. That was when I started thinking my songwriting could move me in the direction of a music career."
Green had help along the way. Corey Smith and then Sam Hunt were early confidants and friends. Touring with Justin Moore and Brad Paisley has helped introduce him to new audiences, portions of which would rush to Spotify to stream old and new recordings. With two EPs out and a full-length in the works, there's no shortage of great country music in the future for Riley Green. He is truly rising before us.
Watch: Riley Green Performs "In Love By Now" Live:
See 50 Essential '90s Country Songs: