To me, country music's about life. It's about Monday through Friday. It's the blue-collar, 40-hour week, songs about life. It used to have more of a sound, but I think the heart of that's still the same. It's still American music.
I'll fill those canyons in your soul, like a river lead you home. And I'll walk a step behind, in the shadows so you shine. Just ask, it will be done and I will prove my love, until you're sure that I'm the one.
I don't want to hear songs about how sunshiny things are. I don't like songs that feel like radio candy... I like the ones that make you think, laugh or cry - they pull some kind of emotion out of you.
I really like the old stuff that I cut my musical teeth on, and I loved it when the industry was just like that, without really a genre. Today, country radio's more aimed at a demographic than a genre. It just softens everything.
It's always performing for me. I write and I record so I can perform. It all ties to that. I've done it since I was a little kid. That's my absolute rush, is playing for different people every night, bringing something else to the table they've never seen.
We sat around and I fed them barbecue and whiskey. And pretty soon everyone started to compete with each other on the guitars. It seemed the more everyone drank and ate, the more everyone got into it.
I've had fans come and knock on my door. I'm usually polite, but I'm usually very direct and say, 'It's not cool that you come here uninvited.'
I love the intimacy of venues like the House of Blues. When everyone is packed in and so close to you, it makes you play differently. It's so much more fun to play because there's so much more high energy in a place like that.
When my wife passed, I stopped doing interviews and I stopped doing meet-and-greets, mostly because I sort of became this suicide ambassador. Everybody wanted to tell me their story.
I try never to focus on the radio, just find great songs, find emotion and just write the best songs you can. I think when you get fixated on trying to do something too accurate, it becomes more washed out and less what you intended it to be. So I think each time the challenge for me is to try and reinvent a little bit.
I've always said I've wanted to be around forever. I never wanted to be the latest, greatest thing. I want to be like Willie Nelson - touring when I'm 70. To do that, you can't be the latest, greatest thing because those things fizzle out.
I'm really private, and also, when I'm home, I'm home. I don't like people in on my business. I believe that you can be overexposed.
Country was about character. Country's changed because of monsters like Clear Channel who bought up all the stations and sliced them up into formats. Our demographic is now the soccer mom.
If you come on my property, I've got you from the second that you enter on. There's little lasers... my TVs come on in my room and fall just right on you. So, there's no way to sneak up on me. And I've got a loud dog.
Shoot, there's a committee to tell you everything at a record label. You definitely have to know who you are if you want to look like you at the end of the process. We've all seen people get record contracts, and by the time they're spit out by the machine, we don't even recognize them.
Everything about the music industry takes away from you as an artist. They're always wondering what the next thing is: 'What do you have?' It's a very introverted process.
When all your stuff gets smashed, everybody gives you new stuff. And when you've been playing the same guitar since you were like 12, that's a lot like dancing with somebody else's wife.
I think the real problem is that nobody buys albums anymore, so you don't get the depth of the artists that are out today. What you get is whatever they felt is politically correct to get on there and actually make some impact. I think that's where you're losing your depth. You're only getting the very top of everything. It really bothers me.
Anytime something starts to feel like a popularity contest or not about the music, I'd rather just not be involved. I'm not a big high-fiver. That really gets to people around me when we have a No. 1 or something big happen. I'm not a big, 'Let's go have a party about it!'
I love the road. That's always been my goal. I've said that to many record labels. I want to make records. The road is my favorite. Some people hate the road, I love the road.