Darius Rucker wrote 77 songs for his new album. That's not a misprint.
Most of them ended up not making the cut for "Charleston, SC 1966," Rucker's follow up to his country breakthrough, "Learn to Live." The new album will be out Oct. 12, and will include 12 new songs. Rucker said it was no problem coming up with a final track list.
"We just listened to them and saw what was rising to the top," Rucker said. "When I say that, people say to me, 'Man, that must be a hard decision.' No, not really. The best songs really rise to the top."
"Learn to Live" has sold 1.4 million albums, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and earned Rucker the Country Music Association's best new artist award. The 44-year-old former Hootie and the Blowfish singer was the first black performer to win a major individual CMA award since Charley Pride in 1971-72.
Rucker says the many fans of "Learn to Live" can expect something very similar to "Charleston, SC 1966."
"I don't think it's going to be light-years different," Rucker said. "I don't think we set out to reinvent the wheel or do a new sound. I think this record is more of an expansion of the last record than anything else. It's like picking up where the last record left off."
The album's title is a reference to his hometown, the year of his birth and a tribute to Radney Foster's first solo album, "Del Rio, TX 1959." He said it was listening to Foster that first made him realize the possibilities of country music.
"It was his voice," Rucker said. "It was really the first time where I had heard country music where I thought, 'Man, I could sing that.' I always liked it, but it was always, I never really knew I could play it. But then I heard Radney and it was like, 'Wow, that guy's amazing.'"
Rucker teamed with producer Frank Rogers again and says it's a comfortable partnership. Rogers was one of several songwriters who teamed with Rucker to write material for the album.
The singer says it's not out of the ordinary for him to write dozens of songs for an album. He wrote 52 for "Learn to Live." He and a co-writer can turn out six to nine new songs over three days, he said, and he teamed with several writers while on tour, in Nashville and at his home.
Rucker says some really good songs didn't make the cut because they didn't fit what he was looking for on the album. He has begun offering them to others, something he didn't do with the first album.
"I think it was one of those things where I think the last record it would've been hard to have somebody cut a song that we wrote," Rucker said. "I was just so new. It was like, 'Who wants a Darius Rucker castoff?' They might want one now."