I’m still figuring out Twitter a little bit. It doesn’t come naturally to me in the same way it does to my kids, but I like using it all the same. So, when I sent out a tweet asking for song requests a few weeks back and Clint Black responded, I had to call my resident millenial at the office and ask, “What does this mean? How do I respond? Is this as big a deal as I think it is??” and she explained to me the beauty of Twitter in that everyone becomes accessible in a way that was never possible pre-Internet.
Let me backtrack a little bit here and say I am a huge Clint Black fan. When I got back into country music in the 80’s it was Clint, Randy Travis, Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, Lyle Lovett, Nanci Griffith, Foster and Lloyd that were the big reasons why I fell into playing and writing songs. Me and my brother Charlie fell hard. Their songs were great and the records were deep. After we made this connection over Twitter, I went to see Clint play in Austin. And man, is he talented. He’s really got it all. He can sing, play lead guitar, blow the harp incredibly, and is just an amazing well-rounded musician.
So this unique combination of fandom for Clint Black, this crazy connection over Twitter, and a profound respect for both Clint’s taste and in general the tradition of country music and great songs led to a lightbulb going off in my brain. I had this great idea to ask Clint to challenge me to cover a great country song, one that he would choose. He started throwing out all kinds of ideas (Waylon, Mac Davis, etc.), of course all of them great suggestions, but there was one that really stuck with me - George Jones’s “Still Doin’ Time.” In 1981, I would have been a freshman in high school. It seems I just took it for granted that George Jones was making big hit records then - this song, “Still Doin Time,” was a #1 hit. So I went into the studio the next day and recorded the tune. It was a great experience to sing it, about two minutes of perfection. I still don’t know how they did that back then, made such impactful songs fit in two minutes.
And well, I had such an amazing experience putting this challenge together that I figured I ought to do it again with some more fellow musicians. Randy Rogers came out to the studio and agreed to do a little song challenge that we’re putting together now, and I already have a list a mile long of people I’d like to challenge each other to cover one of these great timeless songs. That is one of the coolest things about country music - this shared history of great singers and the best work of the last bastion of the professional songwriter, Nashville. We’re calling it “The Country Cover Song Challenge” and will be putting out a new one the first Thursday of every month. Follow us on Twitter @thenextwaltz to see who’s challenging who next and chime in with your own requests! Thank you to Clint Black for kicking off this challenge with such a great song. Watch below!