Cormier reinvigorates his career with a song about PTSD

MUSIC by Craig Silliphant


J.P. Cormier
Wednesday 8
The Exchange

Over the last few years singer/guitarist/songwriter J.P. Cormier had become road-weary, beginning to wonder if he had anything new to contribute to the music world as an artist. A 30-year veteran of the music industry, Cormier had hitchhiked to Nashville when he was 15, playing with legends like Waylon Jennings, Earl Scruggs and Bill Monroe, appearing at the Grand Ol’ Opry dozens of times.

“Careers can be cyclical,” says Cormier. “I knew I wanted to go for longevity. I’ve worked with guys like Earl Scruggs and Stompin’ Tom, and each one of these guys has gone up and down.

“When you’re doing the same thing constantly for 33 years, there’s no way you’re not going to have several moments during that period of time where you’re sitting down and going, ‘Should I keep doing this?’ But you know what the answer is before you ask the question.”

For Cormier, reinvigoration came in the form of an overwhelming response to his recent album The Chance, and specifically to a song called “Hometown Battlefield” about war vets who struggle with — and often die from — post-traumatic stress disorder.

The song garnered 750,000 Facebook views in its first two weeks online and the video currently sits at over half a million YouTube views.

“[I’ve been getting] thousands of messages from all over the world,” Cormier says. “A vast number of them are coming from Vietnam vets, of all [people]. They’re the ones that feel the most forgotten.”

The song is a heartfelt acoustic dirge that was partially inspired by a concert tour Cormier did through Afghanistan.

“I saw things in Afghanistan that you shouldn’t see. I saw dead bodies laying in the field. I saw people drinking out of bodies of water where they were having to push the human feces out of the way. I watched firefights. We were shot at. Two of the people with us were killed. You don’t want to see that as a civilian. But if every civilian had to see that firsthand, there might not be any more war.”

A quick glance at Cormier’s YouTube page shows that most people commenting love the song and are firmly behind the sentiment of supporting soldiers who suffer from PTSD. However, there was at least one dissenter trying to stir the pot with negative comments, which goaded Cormier into responding on the page.

Most artists wouldn’t do that; once you put the song out there it speaks for itself, trolls be damned.

But Cormier, who is clearly passionate and outspoken on this subject, wasn’t about to let that shit stand.

“What kind of an idiot is going to get on YouTube, online, and shit all over something with this subject matter?” asks Cormier. “That put a bull’s-eye on him for me. The reason why these people are dying is because no one wants to talk about it.

“For anybody to get on there and attack me — they’re not attacking me, they’re attacking the people I’m trying to help, and that really pisses me off. It’s about standing up for people who can’t stand up for themselves.”