If it was not for Jerrod Niemann’s swift rise to fame, and his very infectious “Lover, Lover,” I might never have heard of Sonia Dada. Neimann remade the group’s 1992 hit, “You Don’t Treat Me No Good,” into “Lover, Lover.” And if it was not for Kenny Chesney’s “Down the Road,” I might not have taken it upon myself to fall in love with Mac McAnally’s music, as he sings the thoughts of a hesitant father on that tune. And really, I might not have paid enough attention to Kelly Clarkson until she andReba McEntire came together for that unforgettable collaboration on Clarkson’s “Because of You.”
When two like-minded artists get together on a song (like, say, Kellie Pickler andTaylor Swift on “The Best Days of Your Life,” or Trace Adkins and Blake Shelton on”Hillbilly Bone”), it makes perfect sense. But when they branch out a little (Taylor Swift and John Mayer on “Half of My Heart,” for example), it always takes me by surprise. And I usually love the results. It’s often the same with remakes of songs I’d never heard of. When Miranda Lambert put Gillian Welch’s “Dry Town” on her Crazy Ex-Girlfriend album, I immediately looked into more of the Americana singer-songwriter’s music.
There are days, though, when I like the cover song and the cover song only, like when Dierks Bentley put the 26-year-old “Pride (In the Name of Love)” on his new album, Up on the Ridge. I already knew the U2 song. Who doesn’t? But I never really paid much attention to it. Never even liked it. Now that Bentley’s singing it, with Del McCoury on vocals, I dig what they’ve done with it.
Some days I am exhausted just looking at the tall, tall stack of CDs on my desk. There is just so much music. But then on other days, like today when I have time to sit and think, I’m so glad that I can stop putting music into neat little boxes. It’s better to have an open mind and let the music come to you.
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Tagged Because of You, Blake Shelton, Del McCoury, Dierks Bentley, Down the Road, Dry Town, Gillian Welch, Half of My Heart, Hillbilly Bone, Jerrod Niemann, John Mayer, Kellie Pickler, Kelly Clarkson, Kenny Chesney, Lover Lover, Mac McAnally, Miranda Lambert, Pride (In the Name of Love), Reba McEntire, Sonia Dada, Taylor Swift, The Best Days of Your Life, Trace Adkins, U2, You Don't Treat Me No Good
If it’s Tuesday, it must be time to put down the beers and head to Wal-mart. That’s the life Blake Shelton thinks his fans are living. “My fans aren’t necessarily looking for music on the internet. I wouldn’t know how to stream music if you put a gun to my head. We’re more the kind that sit around watching John Wayne movies, drinkin’ beer and then when the album comes out, we go down to Wal-mart and buy it,” he told me last week.
And the album’s out today (Aug. 10). All About Tonight has six songs that Shelton can rave about without sounding too full of himself because he didn’t write them. Like “Draggin’ the River,” a song about young love and the girl’s dad who doesn’t understand it. Fiancée Miranda Lambert joins him on that one. Shelton told me she wanted to cut that one herself, and he said, “Bullshit you will. You already did that once with ‘The House That Built Me.'” Then she suggested it would work as a duet.
But Lambert did give him one song for the album. She wrote “Suffocating” with Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott, and it showcases the power of Shelton’s haunting vocals. Then there’s “Got a Little Country” with rapid-fire singing about Louis Vuitton, Manolo Blahniks and gin and tonics, which Shelton told me was kind of inspired by country star Jerry Reed. And when I asked Shelton if that was him on the lightning-fast guitar picking, he said, “I wish. I can’t even think that fast, much less play like that.”
But his favorite track on the album? “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking?” Do you pour a little something on the rocks? Sink to your nose in a bubble bath? Do you break things when you get mad? Paint your toes because you bite your nails? He likes it because of the vivid picture it paints. I like it because I like guys who ask all the right questions.
So I just learned that at Blake Shelton is almost ready to show off his second Six Pak, on Aug. 10. (Ever since the CMT Music Awards last week, when Laura Bell Bundy referred to Blake Shelton as “At Blake Shelton” because they are both such avid Twitterers, I’ve decided that I, too, will refer to him in conversation as “at Blake Shelton.”) The upcoming six-song album follows up his first, Hillbilly Bone. And this one will have his newest single, “All About Tonight,” plus the songs whose titles alone sound like hits: “Who Are You When I’m Not Lookin'” and “Suffocating” (co-written by Miranda Lambert and Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott). Of this two-small-albums-instead-of-one-big-one concept, Shelton says, “It does make me feel more creative. It’s ongoing recording, which is a lot of fun for me. I feel like I’m making a mini Greatest Hits every time I put out one of these, ’cause I feel strongly about each and every one of those songs. It’s more of a dynamite in a small package kind of thing.”