The Northwest Indiana farmer-musician and country-folk recording artist Dennis J. Leise releases a straightforward tune on the dullness of routine entitled "I Only Do It 'Cause I Have To."
After listening to Dennis J. Leise's delivery and artistic approach, it's clear that he doesn't tiptoe around any issue. Known for his tightly-written throwback country-folk songs and clever, memorable verses, one can only stare reality dead in the face when listening to Leise's witty yet blunt lyricism.
His latest single, "I Only Do It 'Cause I Have To," is an "honest confession of exhaustion and a protest against the dullness of routine," notes Leise. In the song's accompanying music video, we see the Indiana musician act out his routine as a farmer, which once gave him joy—but after evolving into a world where there's no love left in that labor, he only does it cause he has to.
Expanding on the new single, "I Only Do It 'Cause I Have To," the tune opens with a cheerful midtempo country-folk instrumental, but that uplifting tone is quickly swallowed by Dennis J. Leise's warm vocals that sing a bitter message. Leise's songwriting is smooth and poetic, perfectly voicing his thoughts on what his farming routine has become.
Peeking at the song's music, we get to know Dennis J. Leise on a more personal level as he walks us through his routine as a farmer; trimming the hedges, feeding the goats, caring for the chickens, letting the turkeys roam about, etc. There are also a few cuts to Leise sitting on his grounds, picking away at a washboard guitar— playing the farmer "routine" he seems to have gotten too caught up in.
Experience a day in the life of Dennis J. Leise with his latest single and music video for "I Only Do It 'Cause I Have To." Find the song on all digital streaming platforms and the music video on Youtube.
Welcome to BuzzMusic, Dennis J. Leise. We truly appreciate the honesty and poetic approach you've taken with your single "I Only Do It 'Cause I Have To." What inspired you to write a song about the dullness of routine, particularly yours?
Back in 2020, I was almost completely isolated from the world on my small farm in Gary, IN. On the one rare occasion that I had a couple of friends over for a hang, my friend Scott Ligon (NRBQ, The Flat Five) sent me an idea for a song that he had with just the title, "I Only Do It 'Cause I Have To", which came to him after waking up from a nap. I love riffing on ideas like this, so I started right into it. To me it was really easy--there is so much I do, simply because I have to, as I'm sure everyone has.
How long did it take you to write the lyrics for "I Only Do It 'Cause I Have To"? What was your songwriting process like?
Honestly, once I landed upon the delivery and feel I was after, the lyrics themselves took about 15 minutes to write. I decided to try to keep it as vague as possible in a dual effort to both be coy/clever and also broaden the appeal of the idea to be more universal. I never get around to saying what "It" is.
My writing process can be all over the place from song to song. For this one, since it came from a friend and qualified, in-the-industry source (I get enough suggestions on what I should write a song about in general, that I've actually written a song about these suggestions.), I wanted to give it its due. I love songs about ideas, so I did my best to craft them in that direction. You can interpret it from the sublime to the ridiculous on what I/we only do because we have to in this life and world.
Who helped you shoot and create the music video for "I Only Do It 'Cause I Have To"? Did you have a director help execute your ideas?
I worked with Rob Fitzgerald of Hip Video Promo. He and I had worked together previously on my "Nobody's Comin'" video (A Gospel Song for Atheists) and we got along great. I sent him a handful of tracks from "The World That You Grew Up In Is No More" and this was one that called out to him and got some ideas going, him having been on my farm previously and having seen what all I have to do to keep things going. We collaborated on ideas and went with what you see here, and I couldn't be more pleased with the outcome.
What do you hope your audience feels and takes away from the single and music video "I Only Do It 'Cause I Have To"?
I'm hopeful that people enjoy the song and the video. My greater hope is that it makes them contemplate the things they actually have to do, vs what they don't have to do, and in so doing, approach life in a different way--whether it is by altering the number of things that they have to do, or the way in which they approach what they have to do. Too often we feel like we're trapped in the devices of our doings to just keep on keeping on without thinking about how we can make things better. If there is mindfulness in any direction as a result of this song, I see it as a good thing.
What's next for you, Dennis?
I'm hoping to get back into the studio as I always have ideas that I'd like to see get the treatment. Beyond this, COVID permitting, I'd love to get out on the road. Otherwise, I'll just be doing what I have to to get by.