Songwriters draw their inspiration from a variety of things. Current events and relationships are usually high on the list, but things that make us laugh don’t typically scream, “Write a song about me.”
Yet they do to Jonny Fritz, the Nashville-based singer-songwriter formerly known as Jonny Corndawg. He plays Thursday at Opolis.
Fritz’s eccentric brand of country offers a candid perspective on topics that most others would find commonplace. It’s because, he said, music is an ideal platform for saying certain things that people might be thinking, but not necessarily saying.
“I never actually realized that I’m writing humorous stuff,” Fritz said. “A lot of the first funny songs I wrote were just me retelling stories that I’d witnessed that just really stuck in my mind and made me want to sing a song about them — things that I wasn’t hearing other people sing songs about.”
A song like “Trash Day,” for instance, describes a man who gets in trouble with his wife for not taking out the garbage. It’s sad in several ways, and something people deal with regularly, yet Fritz manages to find humor in the situation.
But growing up in the rural community of Esmont, Va. (population 528), his life perspective didn’t really fit in with others’.
“I grew up in the country and I hated it so much,” Fritz said. “I asked my parents if I could [leave home] when I was 16 and they were like, ‘No way! What are you, fucking crazy?’ Then, when I was 17 I was just like, ‘Guys, I’m leaving.’ And they just said, ‘You made it a lot longer than we thought you would.’”
Thus, he left town on a motorcycle without any real purpose other than escape. After traversing the continental U.S., nonchalantly making stops in India and Australia, Fritz shifted his undivided attention to songwriting.
“I owed music that much,” he said. “I had never really given it a good shot. I didn’t want to just give it up without making a real go at it.”
In the four years since, Fritz has released three albums and played with the likes of Wanda Jackson and Alabama Shakes. While he’s content with his lifestyle, it does come with certain impedances.
His new disc, Dad Country, is a push-back of sorts to the outlaw image he acquired while touring on his motorcycle. After sustaining an injury and being forced to wear orthopedic shoes, Fritz traded in his bike for a minivan, yet repeatedly remained mistaken for a renegade country singer.
Unsurprisingly, he found the situation amusing.
“I’d roll into town and it’d be such a hilarious letdown,” he said. “I’d have to tell them, ‘Listen, world: I’m not that cool. I don’t drink; I’d rather go for a run or help your kid with his homework or something. That sounds like a lot more of a good time to me.’”