Kane Brown’s new album Experiment arrives today on the strength of the single “Lose It” and the Nineties jam “Short Skirt Weather,” but it’s “American Bad Dream” that has been turning heads. The moody mid-tempo track addresses the dark mood of contemporary America and the public health crisis of gun violence, as country’s new outcast king sings about taking a test in a bullet-proof vest, “scared to death that you might get shot.”
Brown says the spate of school shootings in particular prompted him to write the song.
“It was like, ‘Why are y’all shooting up these schools?’ I mean, they’re kids. They’re goin’ to school to learn. It was never anything I had to worry about when I was in school. All I had to worry about was just doin’ me and just doin’ what I wanted to do,” Brown tells Rolling Stone. “Just watchin’ on the news today, I don’t even know if I wanna send my kids to school. I’ll probably just homeschool ’em if today is how it was.”
“American Bad Dream” takes on even more weight following the Wednesday mass shooting at the Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks, California. Twelve people were killed at the country-music venue, which had become a gathering place for survivors of last year’s Las Vegas Route 91 festival shooting.
Brown admits the stark message of “American Bad Dream” can be a hard sell for country music. “I know when it first comes in, it’s like, ‘What is this dude about to say?’” he says. “But hopefully the chorus just opens people’s minds and kind of puts them on the right page.”
In the end, Brown says he’s ready for any blowback the song might send his way. “I’m prepared for it. I’m not doin’ anything to hurt anybody,” he says. “I’m just tryin’ to paint the big picture.”
(Reporting by Joe Levy)