Blake Shelton isn't making "Minimum Wage" now, but he has the "best memories" from the days when he did.
In a new interview with CMT, The Voice coach says he simply doesn't understand the backlash surrounding the single. "It's literally a love song about how if times are tight and you ain't got much money—as long as you have love and you're happy—at the end of the day, that's all any of us can really hope for," he explains. "You got it if you got that. That's all that matters."
The 44-year-old speaks from experience. He tells CMT he could "barely" make ends meet in the early days of his singing career. "Those days when the big struggle was, 'Man, do I pay my rent or my electric bill, or do I just say screw it and go buy some beer?'" Blake recalls, "You had to decide because you didn't have enough to go around. But those really were some of the best days of my life that I still think about all the time."
And to those who don't understand Blake's intended theme of the song, he says, "If that's offensive to you, then we'll just have to agree to disagree."
Many took issue with the lyrics, "Girl, your love can make a man feel rich on minimum wage," and, "Girl, your love is money, your love is money."
One person on Twitter previously remarked, "Does anyone else find Blake Shelton's 'Minimum Wage' song to be incredibly tone deaf to our country's current state?"
But Blake believes that those who criticized the song "clearly hadn't heard the song or read the lyrics," because from his perspective, if they did they'd understand the emotions behind it, rather than take issue with the romanticization of living near or below the poverty line.
"I just feel like these days, there are people out there who don't want to know the truth. They just want to hear what they want to hear, and they want to pick a fight. No matter what your intention is, no matter what the truth is, they want it to be something that they can be upset about so that they can get on social media and try to grab a headline," he continues. "With 'Minimum Wage,' at first I thought, 'Wow, I guess I just I've missed something here.' And the more I read into this, I realized this was really not real."
Blake adds that "Minimum Wage" is a quintessential country song, making him wonder if the backlash to the song means it's time to "bow out" from the music world all together. That said, Blake has no plans to actually retire. Instead, he says he's forging his own path, regardless of the criticism.
He insists, "There won't be much left to play or write about on country radio if this is something that we have to think twice about. So I'm going to put out the records that resonate with me and my life and not look back."
As for why Blake waited to address the backlash, he says, "We're at a point now where it doesn't even deserve a response," he says. "That's why I didn't come out initially and say anything, because they're not entitled to a response from me. This is absolutely ridiculous."
The musician adds that he feels vindicated by the fact that the negative buzz around the song died down after a week or so. He explains, "It was hard to find anything negative. If it was something negative about me, it had to do with 'I hate Blake Shelton' because of some other reason."
"Most people were saying, 'I don't get what's so offensive about this song'," Blake shares.
At the end of the day, the singer isn't upset by the widespread backlash to the single. He says, "As country artists and as an industry, we have to stay focused here and know that what's right is right. And I believe this song is a great message and I'm proud of it."