Billy Currington has come a long way from working construction and living in a tiny attic apartment during his early days in Nashville. In the decade since he made his debut with the top ten hit “Walk a Little Straighter,” the Georgia native has parlayed his rich, emotion-laden tenor and unerring song sense into some of the country format’s most memorable hits, including such No. 1s as “We Are Tonight,” “Hey Girl, “Good Directions,” “Must Be Doin’ Something Right” and “People Are Crazy.”
Currington’s songs have always been snapshots of life. His music is steeped in truth and possesses a relatability that makes his audience feel like they could drink a beer or catch a few fish with the curly-haired country boy. Currington has that heartfelt everyman quality that lends emotional weight to whatever he’s singing whether it’s a tender ballad or a rollicking party anthem. He demonstrates his ability to render both those scenarios and all points between on his fifth studio album We Are Tonight.
Led by the fast-climbing No. 1 single “Hey Girl,” We Are Tonight is filled with songs that evoke both wistful reflection and boisterous revelry with equal conviction. Throughout the collection, Currington exudes the easy going charm that has become his trademark yet also possesses a maturity and confidence that comes from a decade of churning out hits and earning accolades. He won the “Hottest Video of the Year” honor at the fan-voted CMT Music Awards for “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right” in 2006, the same year he received an ACM nod for Top New Male Vocalist. His hit duet with Shania Twain, “Party For Two,” earned nominations from both the CMA and ACM, and “People Are Crazy” proved to be a career-defining hit that earned Grammy nominations for Male Country Vocal Performance and Best Country Song in addition to being nominated for Single and Song of the Year from the Academy of Country Music, as well as Single, Song and Video of the Year from the Country Music Association.
Currington could have continued in the same hit-making groove he had established with producer Carson Chamberlain, yet on We Are Tonight he steps out of his comfort zone. “This album is the first time that I ever worked with three different producers,” says Currington, who again partnered with Chamberlain and also engaged Dann Huff and Shy Carter. “Carson is one of the greatest producers in Nashville. I still enjoy making music with him and always will, but there were a couple of songs that I didn’t feel like fit Carson and I. So I called on Dann Huff, one of the magic men in Nashville. He’s a great producer, great guitar player and he just fit a couple of the songs perfectly.”
Currington was introduced to Carter by his former landlord. “He ended up living in their attic after I did and that’s how we met,” he says of Carter, who has collaborated with Nelly, Ashanti, Rob Thomas and co-wrote Sugarland’s No. 1 hit “Stuck Like Glue.” Currington decided to pay a visit to Carter in Los Angeles and wound up recording the final track for We Are Tonight, a quirky, up-beat love song titled “Hallelujah.” “Shy started laying down the beat and we started putting some guitars to it and by six o’clock the next morning we were done with the song,” Currington relates. “I put it at the end of the album because I thought the energy in the song and everything about it would be perfect to end the record.”
Carter joins Currington on the clever “Banana Pancakes.” “That was written by Jack Johnson, one of my favorite singer/songwriters,” Currington says. “It’s such a great laid back song. We recorded it and then I started thinking about background harmonies so Shy came in. He and Karyn Rochelle put the harmonies on. And if you listen to the end of ‘Banana Pancakes,’ it’s got a rap to it that Shy just laid down out of the blue. He didn’t write it or think about it or anything. He just walked up to the mic and said what it says and that’s how we got that.”
Currington cites “Hey Girl” as one of his favorite songs he’s ever recorded. “I was drawn to that song because of the amped up energy it has,” he says. “It was written by a couple of friends of mine, Rhett Atkins being one. I love that guy and he’s from Georgia. I always wanted to record one of his songs. He’s one of the first concerts I ever went to in Nashville. When I got the song and I had a choice. I could choose any producer out there to work this song. I thought Dann Huff would be perfect for this song, and he was. You hear that guitar in it. You hear the power of the drums. Everything about that recording – I’ll take a little credit, not much – but Dann Huff is the reason.”
“Hard to Be a Hippie” is a song that Currington discovered when he was surfing You Tube and ran across an acoustic performance by his pal Scotty Emerick. “I saw the great fan reaction and it’s a song I couldn’t get out of my head,” Currington says. “I called him up and I’m like, ‘Man, you’ve got to send me that Hippie song.’ My first thought when I was listening to the demo was this would be perfect to record with Willie Nelson. I mentioned it to Scotty and he’s like ‘Well I know Willie pretty good’ so he mentioned it to Willie and I ended up meeting Willie on his bus one afternoon. We played it for him and he was in. We went to Texas and recorded his vocal and that’s how ‘Hard to Be a Hippie’ came about.”
The anthemic title track is the first tune Huff sent Currington after the two agreed to work together. “I listened to it 20 times,” Currington says excitedly. “About the third time, I called Dann saying, ‘Man, count me in!’ I couldn’t wait. I was really, really antsy to get in the studio with this song. There was something about it. I knew he would bring a really amped up production on it and make it sound like it was in an arena or stadium. And he did. It came out exactly like I wanted it to.”
“Wingman” is a fun up tempo tune about barroom camaraderie gone awry when the wingman actually steals the girl and takes her home. Currington’s personality-packed delivery makes each track on We Are Tonight a memorable event. Among the album’s many highlights is “23 Degrees and South,” a tune that has already become a fan favorite in his live shows. “It sounds like a song that I could have written because it’s so much about me,” says Currington. “It’s about Key West and I go there quite often. I’ve spent so many days in the sunshine down there fishing and spear fishing, paddle boarding and just being a part of Key West. Everything about ‘23 Degrees and South’ explains my life and down there.”
The sea is in Currington’s soul and is a constant presence in his life and music. The Georgia born artist spent his early years on Tybee Island before his family moved inland to Rincon. He recalls his parents playing vinyl records by Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kenny Rogers. His mom took him to see Rogers in concert when he was 10 and it proved to be a pivotal moment. “It was there that night I remember thinking, ‘man I’d love to be that guy. I’d love to be doing this,’” says Currington. “It was an amazing show, the energy in there and everything about it I never forgot.”
Like many country entertainers, Currington began singing in church. “I met this preacher when I was 17. I heard about this church and just went there. They had a rocking little band,” Currington remembers. The preacher invited him to sing the next week and Billy made quite an impression. Some of his musician friends from church asked him to sing with their band and then had to sneak the underage singer into clubs to perform. “It just started happening so fast,” he says. “The next thing you know I’m playing in a band and the preacher is taking me to Nashville.”
After that introductory visit, Currington decided Nashville was where he needed to be. He moved at 18 and began paying dues. He poured concrete and worked as a personal trainer at a gym during the day and played in bars at night. He began writing songs and singing on demos. “I was meeting all these songwriters. That led me into singing everybody’s songs. I was doing 10 demos a day,” he says. “Before you know it, I started getting deal offers from record labels.”
Currington signed with Mercury Records and released his self-titled debut in 2003. His first single, “Walk a Little Straighter,” quickly established Currington as a singer/songwriter of depth and substance. The song peaked at No. 8 and he followed with “I Got A Feelin,’” which became his first top five. From there, the hits continued as his sophomore album Doin’ Somethin’ Right spawned his first No. 1 with “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right” and his second No. 1 with “Good Directions.” Released in 2008, his third album, Little Bit of Everything, featured five songs co-written by Currington. The Bobby Braddock/Troy Jones penned “People Are Crazy” became his third No. 1 and he followed that with a song he co-wrote, “That’s How Country Boys Roll,” which also hit the top of the charts. In September 2010 Currington released Enjoy Yourself, which included the No. 1 hits “Pretty Good at Drinkin’ Beer” and “Let Me Down Easy.”
We Are Tonight finds Billy Currington in peak form. The songs are sometimes whimsical, often poignant and always compelling. Seasoned by time and peppered with experience, his distinctive voice has never sounded better and he’s a young man who appreciates the road he’s traveled. He’s humbled by the successes of his past yet always looking forward. “It’s like you work so many years to get it and you finally got it,” says Currington, who once again makes his home on Tybee Island. “I feel so blessed.”
Billy Currington follows up his previous No. 1 hits – “Don’t It,” “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To” and “Do I Make You Wanna” – with the uptempo “Wake Me Up.” All of the songs are from his 2015 album, Summer Forever.
Billy says the song, Written by Josh Osborne, Jimmy Robbins and Ashley Gorley, is about what happens after a break up. “‘Wake Me Up’ is a song about someone who’s definitely just lost his love, and he’s heartbroken – or she’s heartbroken – and he’s basically saying to the partner that he just lost, ‘It don’t matter, it don’t matter when you call me, you can wake me up. Just call me, ‘cause I miss ya. I love ya.’”
The Georgia native is crisscrossing the country on his Stay Up ‘Til the Sun Tour, in addition to working on his next album. Check out his tour dates at his official website, billycurrington.com.
Billy Currington (Wake Me Up) 2 OC: …a great feel. :24
“‘Wake Me Up’ is a song about someone who’s definitely just lost his love, and he’s heartbroken – or she’s heartbroken – and he’s basically saying to the partner that he just lost, ‘It don’t matter, it don’t matter when you call me, you can wake me up. Just call me, ‘cause I miss ya. I love ya.’ That’s the gist of the song with a great feel.”
For many decades, Labor Day was seen as a day for workers to voice their complaints and discuss better working conditions and pay.
U.S. Congress declared Labor Day a national holiday in 1894, and on Monday, September 4th, we will once again celebrate the people in every occupation whose work and dedication make this nation great. Labor Day in the United States is a holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It is a celebration of the American labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers.
Labor Day weekend also signals the unofficial end to summer, and many of the hottest country stars are taking a look back at some of the toughest jobs they had prior to making their mark in music or talking about their dream job now.
AJ (working people songs) OC: … appreciate that. :28
“I’ve always written songs and recorded songs, other people’s songs, about workin’ people, and workin’, the workin’ life ’cause I mean, that’s where I’m from. I mean, I worked…I’d already had jobs and worked as a grown person before I ever even thought about bein’ in the music business, so I come from that background, and…although I hadn’t had a job in a long time (laughs), I still remember a lot about it, you know, and I remember what the lifestyle is, and I still appreciate that.”
Billy Currington (Labor Day) OC: …record deal. :40
“I started working like at [age] 12, landscaping. This was summer, every summers, and roofing. I started when I was about 16 roofing houses, and that was probably one of my toughest jobs because down there in South Georgia, it gets hot, so doing that every day all summer long. The pawn shop when I moved to Nashville was one of my favorites, even though it was one of my least favorites. The concrete job was my least favorite of all – six years of that, and I couldn’t take it no more. After that job, that was my turning point. Either I’m going to do something else for a living [laughs] or quit and try to really focus on music and get this record deal.”
Canaan Smith (worst jobs) OC: …of that. [laughs] :54
“I’ve had some terrible jobs. I was a janitor for a while, and I mopped floors, vacuums all kinds of, picking up dog poop, taking out trash, just basically somebody’s beyatch [laughs], that was my job. I did that for two-and-a-half years before I signed a publishing deal. Before that, actually my very first job, I got fired from. It was some sort of candy/chocolate store. My mom dropped me off one time, and I went to work and I was like I think I can do this, and then two shifts later I just didn’t show up because I didn’t understand the concept of having to look at a schedule to see when you come in. I just didn’t show. I just thought they’d call me, ‘Hey, we need you to come in.’ I didn’t know. I was 15 years old, and never worked and that kind of stuff. I always cut grass when I was a kid and cleaned golf clubs – whatever I could do to make some money. But, yeah, I got fired from my first job. I’m pretty proud of that.” [laughs]
Darius Rucker (Labor Day) OC: …pizza. :15
“I was fifteen, and I worked at a pizza place, and the guy decided that at fifteen, that I could not only clean the floors and wash the dishes, but I also had to make pizza. So, for two months, he taught me how to make pizza.”
Dierks Bentley (Labor Day) OC: …generosity. :26
“Personally, the fans give me amazement. That’s the only word to really sum it up. I look out in the crowd, you know, usually see a lot of faces and fans are cheering. I know each one of these like from the road-the signs are from California…Michelle and Kayla live up in the Ohio area. They’re all, I just see them, and I’m like, ‘Wow!,’ they’re all from different regions. You know when you’re in a different region of the country and you just see certain fans. These people are way more hard core than I am, and I’m just amazed by their generosity.”
Eric Church (Labor Day-odd jobs) OC: …bought at 2am. 1:27
“I had an awful job. I’ve had a lot of awful jobs…my worst one was when I first came to Nashville. I got a job at the Shop at Home Network. I worked midnight, graveyard, midnight to eight. That was bad enough but then I would work all night, go home, shower and then I had writing appointments all day because I was trying to get a career started. I’d go write songs and get meetings just trying to get signed. And end up getting done at 3 of 4 with all of that, I’d go home, take a shower or sleep for a little bit and then I had to be at work again at midnight. So the schedule was bad enough, however, what I had to do at the job…I sold knives from midnight to 7 or 8am. And, anytime somebody calls you at 3 or 4am and needs 200 knives for $19.95, it’s automatically an alarming situation. And I just, I was young and I’d been in a lot of these people’s shoes, I had done this…I knew they were drunk. I knew what they had done. They’d just come home from the bar, flipped on Shop at Home and said, ‘You know what? I need that.’ So the reason the job didn’t last long for me is that I was maybe the worst salesmen in history because I ended up talking a lot of these people out of it, I’d say, ‘I’ll tell you what man, go to bed, call me, I’ll be here in the morning. If you get up in the morning and want these knives you call me back.’ Because I knew what was going to happen, you know. They bought 200 knives for $19.95…first of all some of these people you didn’t know whether you should call the cops. What do you need 200 knives for? Even though I’m selling them…what do you need them for? So, it was awful doing that job. And then they got rid of me because, they were like, ‘You’re the worst. I can’t believe you’re talking people out of it.’ I was like, ‘Man I know…I’ve been there.’ [laughs] I’d want some to talk me out of buying some of the stuff I’ve bought at 2am.”
Eric Paslay (Labor Day) OC: …could print. :34
“My first official job was working at a screen printing place in Texas during the summer in a metal building that had no AC. We printed on fanny packs – really cool — and these other little bags. And it was eye doctors that, some company if you bought supplies through them, they’d put your logo on fanny packs for your customers to put in a drawer somewhere. Fanny packs are cool, if you like ‘em. You know, we’d like time ourselves to see how many fanny packs you could print.”
Jon Pardi (Labor Day) OC: …so bored! :17
“The worst job I ever had was at Hometown Grocery Store. I didn’t want to work. I was 15, and I did not want to work at the grocery store. Bagging was fun, but they sent me down the aisles to pull up cans and turn ‘em around and face ‘em, and I would just get so bored!”
Jordan Davis (Labor Day) OC: …worst job. :41
“[My] worst job was probably whenever I got out of school I started working for an environmental group in Baton Rouge, and I was doing actual environmental work at first. I went to my boss probably about four months in and told him that I was going to move to Nashville and write songs. Luckily enough, he let me stay on, but I became the weedeater guy for the landscaping side of the business. I seriously weedeated eight hours a day. The only break I would get would be in-between yard to yard. So, like we would be in the car and I would try to doze off for like 10 minutes. I was covered in grass in the middle of the summer in Baton Rouge. It was awful. That was definitely the worst job.”
Kip Moore (Labor Day-worst job) OC: …than that. :21
“I’d have to say my worst job ever was laying sod in the south Georgia heat. There’s nothing than that, especially when somebody would think that you’re waiting for the next sod patch to be thrown to you and you got your back turned, and all of a sudden, that big ole piece of sod hits you right on the back. You got nowhere to clean up, and you’re just stuck with dirt on your back for the rest of the day. It doesn’t get any worse than that.”
Keith Urban (Labor Day) OC: …amazing. :22
“Seeing people connect to the music is absolutely, hands-down the biggest reward for me, especially when you go to a place you’ve never been to before and it’s all these people, I mean lots of people out there. You’ve never met a single one of ‘em and they’re singing every word, and you realize that it’s not just a pretty melody and everything, but they get the songs. It’s amazing.”
Lady A (Labor Day) OC: …I had a lot of crummy jobs. :31
CK “I used to…” HS: “… knock out asbestos walls.” CK: “I did that for a long time. But even before that, I used to do lawn care every summer. Oh, man, I do not miss that. Just glad those days are over. I get out here and play music for a living. It’s a lot more fun. But yeah, I used to do that, and I used to work as a bag boy at a golf course once. I did that for a couple of summers. I had a lot of crummy jobs.”
Luke Bryan (Labor Day-jobs) OC: …Nashville… 1:07
“At age 12 thru 13, I worked at Rubos IGA Supermarket in Leesburg, GA. I worked during the summers on Monday and Tuesday. I stocked and cleaned up the produce. They paid me under the table…I peeled off all of the brown lettuce. Let’s see, when I was 15, I was a cashier at K-Mart for two months. I worked at K-Mart for two months, and then I reverted back to Rubos because it didn’t really make sense for me to drive all the way into Albany and work for K-Mart. The benefits were great though-you’d get an hour-long on the blue light special. So I started back at Rubos, and then I quit Rubos and worked for my Dad-just awful just driving tractors through cotton all day, and spraying pesticides that eventually would turn your hair green. And then at some point, I started playing guitar. And well, after college I went back and worked for my dad and continued to spray and haul fertilizer around. And then I moved to Nashville…”
Hey y’all! It’s Billy Currington, wishing you a very happy Labor Day weekend.
“Hey y’all, this is Brandon Lay, wishing you a happy and work-free Labor Day Weekend.”
This is TJ, and I’m John, and we are Brothers Osborne, wishing you a happy and work-free Labor Day weekend.
Hey! What’s up, guys? I’m Canaan Smith. Have a great and work-free Labor Day weekend.
Hey! What’s up, guys? I’m Canaan Smith. Have a great and work-free Labor Day weekend.
Hey! What’s up? This is Clare Dunn, and I hope you have a Happy Labor Day weekend.
Hey! It’s Darius Rucker, and I hope you have a have a happy work-free Labor Day weekend.
Hey! It’s Eric Church, and I hope you have a have a happy Labor Day weekend.
Hey! It’s Eric Paslay, and I hope you have a happy and work-free Labor Day weekend.
Hey! It’s Jon Pardi, and I hope you have a happy and work-free Labor Day weekend.
Hey! It’s Kacey Musgraves, hoping you have a happy Labor Day weekend.
Hi everybody! This is Keith Urban, wishing you a very happy Labor Day weekend.
Hey—what’s happening guys? This is Kip Moore, wishing you a happy and work-free Labor Day Weekend.
Hi! We’re Little Big Town, hoping you have a work-free Labor Day weekend.
Hey! It’s Luke Bryan, and I hope you have a have a happy Labor Day weekend.
Hey everybody! I’m Sam Hunt. Have a great and work-free Labor Day weekend.