Country Cuts: A Q&A with Colt Ford
What has been your experience with getting other people to cut your songs?
It’s interesting. It’s a double-edged sword for a song like, “Dirt Road Anthem.” Luckily, Jason Aldean is such a great guy. He’s always said, “That’s Colt’s song, he made it a hit before I cut it. It just hadn’t been heard on the radio.”
There were many people that did not want Jason to do that song. They told him, “Don’t do this. It will kill your career.” What it did is make him the biggest thing out there right now. The song went triple platinum. To me, that shows you what a good ear he has and what a good dude he is, giving me a ton of credit. Because it was my song that I performed on my first record and when Brantley [Gilbert] and I wrote it, we didn’t know that anybody would care anything about it. So it’s been awesome to see that song get to that level of success because again… it’s not about the artist, it’s about the song.
Jason was able to take that song to another platform and look what the song did. The song is what will live on and to me that’s what has been lost in this town, unfortunately. People are all about jeans and hair color and how pretty your teeth are instead of just trying to cut the best songs you can cut. I don’t give a shit who wrote them, it could be some kid sitting in a basement in the middle of Ohio. It doesn’t matter. Great songs are great songs.
So, in a way… you do have radio success. But more as a songwriter than an artist.
Yeah, I get frustrated sometimes because I would love to be heard more on the radio. When Erich Church’s Chief came out we had been playing some shows together, he could tell I was frustrated not getting those opportunities so he sent me a text that said, “Don’t get frustrated. I know you have hit songs because we’ve played them in front of thousands of people this year. Don’t be frustrated. Songs and music will win in the end.”
Where does your style of mixing rap and country come from?
Truthfully, go back and listen to “Smoke Smoke That Cigarette” by Tex Williams. Or some old Johnny Cash and listen to what they were doing– talking, recitation, call it whatever you want… they weren’t singing all of those songs. Listen to Toby Keith’s, “I Want To Talk About Me.” Bobby Braddick wrote that.
I’m inspired by Waylon Jennings and I’m inspired by Run DMC. It’s funny when people act like I’ve created something new because this stuff has been around since before I was born. I met Wyclef Jean, one of the great hip-hop producers of all time. He grew up in the islands where they only had two stations– reggae and country. He says the first rap song he ever heard was, “Devil Went Down To Georgia.” Do I have my own twist on it? Sure I do. But isn’t that what I’m supposed to do? I’m an artist, right? I should have my own individual style.
I can’t end the conversation without talking about golf. Songwriting and golf– any similarities?
Yeah, sometimes there are. It just depends. Sometimes you’re writing with yourself and sometimes you’re writing with a buddy. And that’s kind of like playing in a tournament, having your caddy. It’s you and him and y’all are trying to decide on what’s the right shot given the circumstances and that’s no different than songwriting when you’re trying to decide on the right word. Sometimes you play it safe and then sometimes you do what Jamey Johnson did and say, “But I traded all that for cocaine and a whore.”
Colt Ford’s fourth studio album, Declaration of Independence comes out August 7 and features collaborations with Jason Aldean, Wanya Morris of Boyz II Men, Kix Brooks, Montgomery Gentry, Jake Owen, Darius Rucker, and more.
Colt will be listening to songs as a judge for Ronnie Milsap’s Country Cut Contest happening now through August 10, 2012 at American Songspace.
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