meta-scriptJohn Prine Livestream Tribute To Feature Norah Jones, Warren Haynes, The Decemberists' Colin Meloy, Kevin Morby And More | GRAMMY.com
John Prine performs in 2019

John Prine performs in 2019

Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images

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John Prine Livestream Tribute To Feature Norah Jones, Warren Haynes, The Decemberists' Colin Meloy, Kevin Morby And More

Presented by Consequence of Sound, Angel From Maywood: A Livestream Tribute To John Prine will benefit three Nashville-based nonprofit organizations

GRAMMYs/Apr 12, 2020 - 01:19 am

Music and culture website Consequence Of Sound (CoS) has announced a livestream tribute benefit concert in honor of John Prine, the two-time GRAMMY-winning folk and Americana icon who died this week (April 7) at 73 due to COVID-19 complications. Dubbed the Angel From Maywood: A Livestream Tribute To John Prine, the online event will feature cover performances from Prine's friends, collaborators and artists who were influenced by the legend, including Warren Haynes, Norah Jones, Grace Potter, The Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy, Kevin Morby, Butch Walker, The Head And The Heart and many others. 

The tribute is streaming live today (April 11) on the CoS Instagram account starting at 2 p.m. EST and running until approximately 9 p.m. EST; the performances will be available online for 24 hours after the livestream. 

In accordance with the wishes of Prine's wife, Fiona Whelan Prine, the tribute event, which is open to the public for free, is raising donations to benefit three Nashville-based nonprofit organizations, including Nashville Rescue MissionRoom In The Inn and Thistle Farms.

A beloved singer-songwriter in the country folk and American roots genres, Prine was considered one of America's greatest songwriters and a master of lyrical craftsmanship. Counting 11 career GRAMMY nominations, he won two golden gramophones in the Best Contemporary Folk Album category for his albums The Missing Years (1991) and Fair & Square (2005). 

In 2016, Prine visited the GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles for an unforgettable event presented by the Recording Academy, which featured an in-depth conversation with the legend himself alongside GRAMMY winner Sturgill Simpson, led by acclaimed music writer and author of Songwriters On SongwritingPaul Zollo.

"Songs are different from the music business and music and even records," Prine said during the panel. "If people didn't have music, they'd come up with it. They'd just drone and moan in the kitchen at night, and music would come out of it. It's something that people need, and they need to get stuff out of them[selves], so people would write songs. Otherwise you'd never get it out of you."

John Prine Was The Master Of Lyrical Economy

Kevin Morby, one of the artists performing at Sound Mind Live 2024
Kevin Morby, one of the artists performing at Sound Mind Live 2024

Photo: Chantal Anderson

feature

Brooklyn's Sound Mind Live Festival Promotes Mental Health Awareness Through Performance, Panels & More

The annual Sound Mind Live festival is a celebration of "our shared humanity." Held May 18 in Bushwick, the annual event aims to highlight issues of mental health prevalent throughout the music industry.

GRAMMYs/May 13, 2024 - 08:47 pm

Plenty of music festivals have a benevolent component, from direct environmentalist actions or a well-intended, but vaguely-worded community initiative. Sound Mind Live, the concert branch of the nonprofit organization devoted to bolstering awareness around mental health and providing resources through music, puts doing good at the top of the marquee.

The 2024 iteration of Sound Mind will be held on May 18 in Brooklyn's Bushwick neighborhood. The day-long event will feature performances by Kevin Morby, Misterwives, SHAED, and Bailen, as well as an afterparty featuring Lady Gaga collaborator DJ White Shadow. There will also be an array of mental health-centric panels and workshops. Tickets can be reserved for free with a "Donate what you can" option, though there are some VIP perks for those who give more than $150. Proceeds will support the opening of a music and wellness center.

"A lot of the artists we work with are [participating] intentionality around creating impact beyond just performing at an event," says Chris Bullard, Sound Mind’s Executive Director and a former touring musician. "It’s [not] like a benefit concert gala, which sometimes for artists or musicians can feel a little stuffy. It’s a music festival vibe, but then it still has that intentionality built around it."

The festival falls during Mental Health Awareness Month and highlights that, while there are folks working to improve awareness and access, there's still a way to go. Although there have been significant strides in recognizing the frequency with which artists face mental health issues (Sound Mind’s puts this figure at 73 percent of musicians), the industry can be inherently detrimental to people prone to mental health issues. Grueling tour schedules, economic uncertainty, and more can lead to stress, depression, and anxiety — all of which make working in music far from a dream.

Sound Mind’s namesake festival began in 2019, bringing Langhorne Slim, Torres, Rage Almighty, and comedians Aparna Nancherla and Gary Gulman to Brooklyn’s since-relocated Rough Trade venue. The org's "artist ambassadors" — which include My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way, Julien Baker, Alessia Cara, Serpentwithfeet, and Open Mike Eagle — span genres and experience, lending the credulity to an important cause. 

Bullard and the team kept their infant festival going during the COVID-19 pandemic, hosting a Los Angeles event in 2021 that featured All Time Low, Fitz and the Tantrums, and Ian Sweet playing intimate sets at a drive-in. In the years since Sound Mind has returned to Brooklyn;  artists such as Iron & Wine, Pom Pom Squad, Big Boi, Cold War Kids, and Allison Russell have all taken the stage. 

Of course, booking talent for a mission-driven event is different from more traditional talent buying. Bullard says Sound Mind wants to work with artists who, ideally, want to be involved with the organization in the long term.

"There's this other layer that we always take of who are the advocates for mental health, who really want to speak out, who are artists who have lived experience around this," he says. "Kevin Morby played one of our first events, and since we've stayed in touch with him and his team and just, he's been like, ‘Let me know when there's an opening where I can use my voice again and contribute to this.'"

That 2019 performance at Music Hall of Williamsburg made an impact on Morby, who says he was impressed with the group’s mission. He also felt that their efforts were sorely needed. "That was the first time I've heard of them," the singer/songwriter recalls. "I was really sort of excited to see an organization that was having this crossover of mental health and music, because I felt like that was something that was sort of a long-time coming." 

Morby has lived a dozen lives in the music industry. He began his career as part of indie darling Woods in the late 2000s, and became a critical favorite in recent years as a solo artist. In 2022, he performed at the GRAMMY Museum and discussed his most recent album,This Is A Photograph.

Speaking to GRAMMY.com, Morby discussed how grueling touring can be, especially because touring has become an ever-larger portion of many artist’s income."People hit the road three times as hard as they used to," he says. The taxing nature of life on the road can make musicians uniquely susceptible to issues like substance abuse, depression, and anxiety.

"[Music has] been so romanticized and glamorized throughout the years. All of these things are the tropes of just being a rock and roller and heavy drinker and doing drugs," Morby says.

These are all topics that Sound Mind seeks to tackle at the festival and in its ongoing programming. Beyond what’s on the main stage, Sound Mind Live will offer attendees restorative sound session experiences, panels including "Mental Health in the LGBTQ+ Community" and "Mental Health in the Music Industry," several of which feature the festival acts. Bullard notes that both SHAED and Bailen have been involved with Sound Mind previously, the former as part of a video series about the anxiety COVID-19 brought to the music industry, and the latter as guests on Sound Mind’s Untangling the Chords podcast.

"So many people listen to music as a way to cope with mental health struggles. Sound Mind amplifies this by highlighting musicians’ own journeys," SHAED writes. Adds Bailen, "Mental health is such an important topic to us, and a lot of our music focuses on it. We think it’s so important to connect with fans and listeners honestly about the subject, and we’re lucky to be able to do it at this amazing festival alongside these other incredible artists we look up to." Bailen adds.

Once the festival has concluded, Sound Mind wants to further its positive impact on artists, industry folks, and fans through the establishment of the Sound Mind Center, which is scheduled to open in October.

"A goal for us is using the festival as this hopefully celebratory moment around our humanity, our shared humanity. I think that's a lot of what mental health and vulnerability is all about," Bullard says. "The fact that we are all perfect in imperfection, whatever that is."

10 Artists Who Are Outspoken About Mental Health: Billie Eilish, Selena Gomez, Shawn Mendes & More

Johnny Cash in 1994
Johnny Cash in 1994.

Photo: Beth Gwinn/Redferns

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10 Ways Johnny Cash Revived His Career With 'American Recordings'

On the 30th anniversary of Johnny Cash's 'American Recordings' — the first of a six-part series that continued through 2010 — take a look at how the albums rejuvenated the country icon's career and helped his legacy live on after his passing.

GRAMMYs/Apr 26, 2024 - 05:05 pm

It's fair to say that the 1980s hadn't been particularly kind to country legend Johnny Cash. Once considered the Don of the Nashville scene, the singer/songwriter suddenly found himself dropped by Columbia Records, recording terrible parody songs (remember "The Chicken in Black"?), and addicted to painkillers after a bizarre accident in which he was kicked by an ostrich.

But as the new decade approached, Cash's reputation gradually started to recover. A 1988 tribute album, 'Til Things Are Brighter, alerted a much younger indie generation of his catalog of classics. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992. And then arguably the biggest band in the world at the time, U2, invited him to take lead vocals on Zooropa's post-apocalyptic closer "The Wanderer." The scene was set for a triumphant comeback, and on 1994's American Recordings, the Man in Black duly obliged.

The Rick Rubin-produced album was far from a one-off. Cash delivered three American follow-ups in his lifetime (1996's Unchained, 2000's Solitary Man, and 2002's The Man Comes Around). And two posthumous volumes (2006's A Hundred Highways, 2010's Ain't No Grave)  further bridged the gap between his statuses as country outlaw and elder statesman — and helped further his legacy as one of country's all-time greats.

As the first American Recordings installment celebrates its 30th anniversary, here's a look at how the series deservedly rejuvenated the career of an American recording legend.

It United Him With A New Muse 

Best known for his pioneering work with Run-D.M.C., Beastie Boys, and Public Enemy, Rick Rubin seemed an unusual fit for a sixty-something country singer whose glory days were considered decades behind him. But left spellbound by Cash's performance at a Bob Dylan anniversary gig in 1992, the superproducer offered to make the Nashville legend a superstar once more.

Cash took some persuading, but eventually agreed to join forces on the assurance he'd be in the creative driving seat, and a new unlikely dream team was born. Rubin lent his talents to all six volumes of American Recordings — co-producing the middle two with Cash's son John Carter Cash – and won the first GRAMMY of his career for his efforts. The Def Jam co-founder would also later work his magic with several other '60s heroes including Neil Diamond, Yusuf and Neil Young.

It Saw Cash Lean Into Contemporary Music More Than Ever

Cash had never been averse to tackling contemporary material. He covered Bruce Springsteen's "Highway Patrolman" in 1983, just a year after it appeared on The Boss' Nebraska. But the American Recordings series saw the Man in Black embrace the sounds du jour like never before, whether the grunge of Soundgarden's "Rusty Cage," electro-blues of Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus," or most famously, industrial rock of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt."

On paper, this could have been nothing short of a disaster, the sign of an aging artist desperately latching onto a much younger musical generation in a transparent bid for relevancy. But instead, Cash elevates the Gen X classics into modern hymns, his sonorous voice injecting a sense of gravitas and Rubin's production stripping things back to their bare but compelling essentials. Far from an embarrassing grandad act, this was the sound of a man respectfully making the source material his own.

It Returned Cash To The Charts 

Cash had reached the lower end of the Billboard 200 in the '80s as part of supergroups The Highwaymen and Class of '55. But you had to go all the way back to 1976's One Piece at a Time to find his last entry as a solo artist. The American Recordings series, however, slowly but surely restored the Man in Black to his former chart glories.

Indeed, while its first two volumes charted at numbers 110 and 170 respectively, the third peaked at a slightly more impressive 88 and the fourth at 22, his highest position since 1970's Hello, I'm Johnny Cash. The posthumous fifth entry, meanwhile, went all the way to No. 1, remarkably the first time ever the country legend had achieved such a feat with a studio effort (live album At San Quentin had previously topped the charts in 1971).

"Hurt" also became Cash's first solo US country hit in 14 years in 2003. And while it only landed at No. 56 on Billboard's Hot Country Songs chart, it remains Cash's most-streamed song to date with over 600 million streams on Spotify alone.

It Included Masterful Collaborators 

As well as handing over the producer reins to Rubin, Cash also surrounded himself with some of the rock world's finest musicians. Tom Petty, Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea, and Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood all lent their considerable talents to Unchained. Sheryl Crow and Will Oldham did the same on Solitary Man, while Nick Cave, Fiona Apple and Don Henley joined him in the studio on The Man Comes Around.

But Cash also kept things more traditional by recruiting fellow country legend Merle Haggard, 'fifth Beatle'Billy Preston, and "Ballad of a Teenage Queen" songwriter Jack Clement, while the presence of wifeJune Carter Cash and son John made the third American Recordings something of a family affair.

It Went Back To Basics 

While American Recordings was, in many respects, Cash's most forward-thinking album, it wasn't afraid to keep one foot in the past, either. For one, the star recorded most of its first volume in his Tennessee cabin armed with only a guitar, a throwback to his 1950s beginnings with first producer Sam Phillips.

Cash also trawled through his own back catalog for inspiration, re-recording several tracks he believed had unfairly gone under the radar including 1955 single "Mean Eyed Cat," murder ballad "Delia's Gone" from 1962's The Sound of Johnny Cash, and "I'm Leaving Now" from 1985's Rainbow.

It Proved He Was Still A Masterful Songwriter…

Although Cash's unlikely covers grabbed most of the attention, the American Recordings series showed that his stellar songwriting skills remained intact throughout his later years, too. "Meet Me in Heaven," for example, is a beautifully poignant tribute to the older brother who died at just 15, while the folksy "Let the Train Blow the Whistle" added to Cash's arsenal of railroad anthems.

"Drive On," meanwhile, is worthy of gracing any Best Of compilation, a powerful lament to those who came back from the Vietnam War with both emotional and physical scars ("And even now, every time I dream/ I hear the men and the monkeys in the jungle scream").

…And Still A Master Interpreter 

As well as putting new spins on his own songs and various contemporary rock favorites, Cash further displayed both his interpretive and curatorial skills by covering a variety of spirituals, standards and pop hits first released during his commercial heyday.

The likes of early 19th century gospel "Wayfaring Stranger," wartime favorite "We'll Meet Again," and Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" may have been firmly in Cash's wheelhouse. But more leftfield choices such as Loudon Wainwright III's offbeat morality tale "The Man Who Couldn't Cry" proved that even when outside his comfort zone, he could stamp his own identity with aplomb.

It Made Him An Unlikely MTV Star 

Cash was 62 years old when American Recordings hit the shelves — not exactly a prime age for MTV play. Yet thanks to some inspired creative decisions, the career-reviving series spawned two videos that received regular rotation on the network. Firstly, "Delia's Gone" caught attention for two major reasons: it was directed by Anton Corbijn, the man renowned for his long-running creative partnership with Depeche Mode, and it starred Kate Moss, the world's biggest supermodel at the time, as the titular victim.  

Then nine years later, Cash picked up six nominations — winning Best Cinematography — at the MTV Video Music Awards thanks to Mark Romanek's emotionally devastating treatment for "Hurt." Interspersing clips of the clearly fragile country singer at the rundown Museum of Cash with footage from his earlier days and artistic shots of decaying fruits and flowers, the promo perfectly embodied the transient nature of life. And it had the capacity to reduce even the hardest of hearts to tears.

It Added To His GRAMMY Haul 

Cash won almost as many GRAMMYs with his American Recordings series as he had during the previous 40 years of his career. The Man in Black first added to his trophy collection in 1995 when the first volume won Best Contemporary Folk Album. This was the first time he'd been recognized at the ceremony for his musical talents since the June Carter Cash duet "If I Were A Carpenter" won Best Country Performance for a Duo or Group with Vocal back in 1971  

Three years later, Unchained was crowned Best Country Album. And after picking up a Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999, Cash won 2001's Best Male Country Vocal Performance for "Solitary Man," then again in the same Category for "Give My Love to Rose"in 2003. He posthumously won two more GRAMMYs for Best Short Form Video, in 2004 for "Hurt" and in 2008 for "God's Gonna Cut You Down." In total, the American Recordings series won Cash six more GRAMMYs, bringing his overall count to 13. 

It Was A Powerful Epitaph

In 1997, Cash was told he'd just 18 months to live after being misdiagnosed with neurodegenerative condition Shy-Drager syndrome (later changed to autonomic neuropathy). He ended up outliving this prognosis by a good four years, but during this period, he lost the love of his life and was forced to record his swansong in-between lengthy stints in the hospital.  

Little wonder, therefore, that the American Recordings series is defined by the theme of mortality: see "The Man Comes Around," a biblical ode to the Grim Reaper ("And I looked, and behold a pale horse/ And his name that sat on him was death, and hell followed with him"), Death Row anthem "The Mercy Seat," and funeral favorite "Danny Boy." As with David Bowie's Blackstar, Cash was able to reflect on his impermanence in his own terms in a sobering, yet compelling manner that continues to resonate decades on. 

8 Artists Bringing Traditional Country Music Back: Zach Top, Randall King, Emily Nenni & More On Why "What's Old Becomes Beloved Again"

Wyatt Flores Press Photo 2024
Wyatt Flores

Photo: Matt Paskert

interview

Wyatt Flores On Speaking His Truth & Using Fame For Good: "I Want People To See That I've Gone Through It"

On his new EP, 'Half Life,' Wyatt Flores tackles everything from mental health to his complicated relationship with fame and religion. Ahead of his Stagecoach Festival debut, the rising country star discusses expressing "wherever I am in my heart."

GRAMMYs/Apr 26, 2024 - 03:42 pm

When Wyatt Flores released his second EP, Half Life, on April 19, he ended his celebratory Instagram post with one simple wish: "I hope these songs make you feel something."

That's been Flores' mantra since the rising country singer first began releasing music just three years ago. Hailed as one of the genre's most honest new stars, Flores speaks his truth in his red dirt music, on stage, and on social media. As Half Life showcases, he's unafraid to broach life's toughest topics, from suicidal thoughts on "Devil" to a complicated relationship with religion on "I Believe In God."

"I like to keep it very based on what I felt, and just try and go for that emotion," Flores says of his music. "If you can somehow captivate [listeners] in the story and make them feel the emotion through the song, then you've done your job. I guess that's all I'm after."

His unabashed vulnerability has made his music resonate widely — and fast. In 2023, Flores went from playing for hundreds to thousands in a matter of months, garnering more than 325 million global streams and more than 13 million TikTok likes along the way. He consistently uses his rapidly growing platform to champion self-care and mental health, even taking a brief tour hiatus in February to get himself back on track.

Two months later, Flores assures that he's feeling rejuvenated and healthier than ever, sparking some happier tunes that even caught him by surprise (more on that later). He'll spend the summer playing a mix of headlining shows, festival stages and a few supporting slots for Mitski, first kicking things off with his debut at Stagecoach on April 26.

As Flores gears up for tour, he sat down with GRAMMY.com during some time off in his native Oklahoma to chat about his remarkable rise, the complexities of being so vulnerable, and how he feels like he's getting the "best of both worlds."

Do you remember the first show that you were like, "What is happening?"

Yeah, it was Asheville, North Carolina. It was either the last week of April last year or the first week of May, I can't quite remember. But that was my first ever sold-out headline show. I think the venue cap was like 550, and they were screaming so loud that I got off stage and I was like, "Did anyone feel like there was a trash can going off in their ear?" And then my bass player, Bill, was like, "No, that's the last time you'll hear that frequency." 

That was where everything changed. It kind of started making me realize how real this was getting. Then, everywhere we went, [it was a] sold-out crowd, and they're excited as all get out. I literally thought that I was living a dream. 

I played at, you know, the s—iest hole in the walls you could ever imagine. I just thought I was gonna be there forever. Honestly, I was still having fun doing that. But I just couldn't believe the dramatic change that happened.

At what point did it actually feel real?

It was probably when we played Dallas [in December of] last year. That was the biggest room that we'd ever played. I was like, 3,000 people bought tickets to show up to my show. And then I just kind of had to kind of process like what was actually going on. I kept questioning it for the longest time, but that night it was just different.

We had just played in Fort Worth, like, three months [before that], and that was 600 people. So when we played Dallas, that was when I just looked at the crowd and I was like, Okay, this is it.

That's interesting, because you had to cancel a stretch of shows not long after that. Was that kind of all correlating — taking it in, but being overwhelmed from all of it?

Yeah, because there's a lot of things that went on in my life that I never took the time to process, and that was one of the first things — being like, This is my life from now on. And I think that's what I liked about the Life Lessons project so much, was giving listeners an inside view on what it looks like to be on this side of the fence. Because everyone thinks that it's gotta be the most wild thing to be an artist, but I don't think they realize what comes with it. 

I'm still sitting here going, I shouldn't be on this interview with you. I don't deserve it. Like, I don't have the cool style, I show up in sweatshirts and s—ty Adidas shoes. I don't put myself on a pedestal.

I've never wanted to become something I'm not, and that's kind of been the hard point. Because, you know, you got folks from the hometown [saying], "Don't forget who you are!" And then all of a sudden you get lost in all of it. And then you're sitting there going, Do I even know who I am? 

Making some healthier changes kind of opened up some other wounds that I bottled up. I never processed my grandpa's death, and at the same time that that was all going down, I was also firing management — which, they say in Nashville, the manager should be the one person that you do trust. 

I took one week off so I could come back for [my grandpa's] funeral, and had to delay some shows there. And then I was homeless for two weeks from another situation. But I was like, Nope, I'm just gonna work my ass off. I'm just gonna show up, do what I need to do. And I never took the time to actually look at anything that had happened. And that's kind of where the falloff went, because I was just trying to survive the chaos.

I'm sure it's hard being in the spotlight period while  going through so much  at the same time.

For a while, there were certain things that I did not like about myself. [I felt like I was] changing personalities. I know most people can't see it, but that was something that I was struggling with. Everyone was seeing how happy I was through social media — because I'm not afraid to post the silly s— that goes down on the road; me being a jackass in the van or something like that — but then people expected that from me. 

I had to fully come to terms with, wherever I am in my heart, that's who I am right there in that moment. I don't have to portray this image that people see just because we post it on social media.

I also think it's amazing to have the platform you do and be so honest about how you're feeling. Because it's probably healing for you, but also going to be healing for the people who see it — even if it's challenging and really personal to admit.

I put down my phone for a really long time, which was one of the best things ever. [Laughs.] I came back and I went through my DMs. People were like, "Thank you for saying something because I finally had the encouragement to say something to my wife" or something else. I'm glad that it gave people the encouragement to speak up, because if I don't, then how will they? 

I look at my fans, and I'm blessed. There's no better fan base, they're the sweetest people ever. They are diehard fans, but they talk to me like I'm their friend, like they've known me forever. For them to trust someone enough to say something [about] how they feel or what's going on in their lives, that means the absolute world to me.

Clearly that means that what you bring to the table is what your fans are also going to bring to the table for you.

One of the things that I've been trying to work through, is realizing that I can listen to their problems, but I can't take their problems with me. And that was something that I had to learn. I was like, I can't do that to myself, or I'm gonna plummet.

There was a time when we were in Colorado, and someone had sent me these messages [about this girl], and I ended up looking [her] up. She was an eighth grade girl, and the last video she had posted on TikTok was of "Please Don't Go." She'd committed suicide a month after she had posted that. Her mom was trying to raise attention towards bullying and things like that. 

It was hard for us. But we had to look at it through a new perspective. And it's like, we can't change someone's decision, as badly as you want to. And we try and look at it from this perspective of, How long did that song keep them here? Time is valuable, and even if it was for another month, at least it kept them here just a little bit longer, kept them through the fight. Even though you don't always win.

We're not just out here playing music. I still love the party songs. "West of Tulsa" is always fun to look out in the crowd, and they're having a great time. But we're not just playing music because we're here to distract people from their problems. We're lucky enough that we do get to save lives, and we get to do it through music. But it's also one of those things where I'm sitting there going, I'm a 22-year-old kid from Oklahoma, and I have this power. Am I going to use it correctly?

Now that you know that your music is so powerful to so many people, has it changed the way that you approach your songwriting?

A little bit. You know, the songs that I write are songs that I feel. I'm ADHD as all get out, so when I show up to write, it's whatever I'm feeling that day. But yeah, there's a little bit in the back of my head that says, Watch out for something like this, you don't want to say the wrong message here

I want to write these songs that are sad, that are very dark, and lost is kind of the feeling. Because I want people to see that I've gone through it, so that way, they can get a better understanding that they're not the only one. 

My inspiration was to be the artist that had those songs that kind of pulled me through my stuff. There's all sorts of jokes and like memes about when the song doesn't hit you hard enough the first time so you play it again, or, like, when you're sitting in a vehicle after you've already gotten home but you sit there until the song ends. That was always kind of a goal for me. I was like, I want to be that song that kind of helps them get through the next day. 

That's the way I kind of look at it when I play these shows. And I sit back and I look at the crowd, and I'm like, I get to be a part of y'all's lives every single day, and that is the coolest thing that I've ever done.

It's funny, there's always that interview question like, "What are your goals?" but it sounds like you've already accomplished the main one. 

Oh, absolutely. I've been having to find new goals because I've lived my dream. Like, if I died tomorrow, I'd hang my hat proudly. I've helped people, I've played all the venues — well, I guess I haven't played Red Rocks yet. That's coming up, though.

I'm still thinking, because it's just now finally hit me that, like, You've kind of done the damn thing. So it's like, What do you want to do now? I have all these wild ideas. I usually throw out some out of pocket s— and then I let someone else come up with if it's gonna work or not. My business manager hates me. [Laughs.]

Were you raised to be so connected with your feelings, or was it just kind of an innate thing for you?

I think I always felt out of place wherever I was. I was always kind of the weird kid. My friends hated me because I started talking about sappy s—. I'd want to have deep, meaningful conversations and sometimes they'd be like, "Would you just shut up?" [Laughs.]

But what I realized is that I'm very big on connection. At some point, not fitting in and being different kind of all changed for me. I was like, I can't change it, so I might as well be it.

Have you ever questioned how honest you're being in your music? 

For the most part, I don't try and hold back. In some ways, it is scary, but in other ways, it's kind of just telling your truth so people don't get shocked by something that you do.

For the first time, I'm writing happier songs. And I'm skeptical to see how people take that. I mean, I've had Life Lessons and stuff like that, but yeah, this is definitely a weird time in my life where I'm like, I'm writing happy songs, and I don't even know how to feel about it. Now, I'm like, How do I share happiness? How do I contain that idea, and that emotion, and put it into a song so it comes out to the listener and they feel it?

You're allowed to be happy! And with everything that's been happening for you lately, I'm not surprised you're happy.

[Fans] always say "We made the right person famous." It's been two short years of really doing this thing. And we're blessed.

I freakin' love playing live, I just had other things going on in the background that I never took time [to process]. For a while, I wanted to blame a lot of things that wasn't it. And then, I went to Onsite [Workshops, a therapy, counseling and wellness retreat center in Tennessee] for like a week and got my head back to normal. 

Playing live is what makes it all worth it. I knew that I was going to have to work for this, and I'm getting to see the fruits of my labor. I'm finally getting some time off. I'm getting to actually spend some quality time, but I at least now know how to have quality time in the healthiest way. Because for a while, I couldn't shut the other brain off. I'd come home and I was still somewhere else. 

I can't believe that I get the best of both worlds. That usually doesn't happen where you get your cake and eat it too. S—, I might go fishing later! I get to be on the road, play to thousands of people, and then I get to go fishing? I think the only thing that's missing is I don't have a boat. Man, I just might have to weld me one.  

Meet Charles Wesley Godwin, The Rising Country Singer Who's Turning "A Very Human Story" Into Stardom

Post Malone holds and acoustic guitar and looks at the crown during his Super Bowl LVIII performance
Post Malone performs during Super Bowl LVIII in February 2024.

Photo: Perry Knotts/Getty Images

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Post Malone's Country Roots: 8 Key Moments In Covers and Collaborations

Ahead of Posty's upcoming performance at the Stagecoach Festival, catch up on the many ways he's been dabbling in country music since the beginning of his career.

GRAMMYs/Apr 24, 2024 - 07:25 pm

Since Post Malone burst onto the mainstream nearly a decade ago, he has continued to flaunt his genre-defying brand of musical brilliance. For his latest venture, it’s time for gold grills and cowboy hats: Posty’s going country.

Though his musical origins are in rap, Malone has seamlessly traversed pop, R&B, and blues, always hinting at his deep-seated country roots along the way. In the last year, his long-standing affinity for country music has moved to the forefront, with appearances at the CMA Awards, a country-tinged Super Bowl LVIII performance, and a feature on Beyoncé’s COWBOY CARTER. Next up, he’ll make his debut at California's Stagecoach Festival alongside some of country music’s biggest names — and pay tribute to some of the genre greats.

While it’s unclear exactly what the Texas-raised hitmaker will be singing, his 45-minute set on Saturday, April 27 is labeled “Post Malone: Performs a special set of country covers.” After years of performing covers for and alongside country stars, the performance is arguably one of the most full-circle moments of his career thus far.

Ahead of his Stagecoach premiere, read on for some of Posty's biggest nods and contributions to the country music scene over the years — that could culminate in his own country album soon enough. 

A Slew Of Classic Country Music Covers

Malone has a history of channeling his musical heroes, often pulling on his boots to deliver heartfelt covers. He's paid tribute to country icons many times, including covers of Hank Williams Jr.'s classic, "There's A Tear In My Beer” in a 2018 fan-favorite video

During a 2022 Billy Strings tour stop at The Observatory in Los Angeles, Malone made a surprise appearance and used the moment to honor Johnny Cash alongside Strings. The pair delivered an acoustic duet of Cash's infamous murder ballad, "Cocaine Blues."

And just this year, Malone covered Hank Williams Sr. during a surprise performance at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. On April 3, he closed out the annual Bobby Bones' Million Dollar Show with a rendition of Williams' "Honky Tonk Blues." 

A Longtime Kinship With Dwight Yoakam

Malone has long collaborated with Dwight Yoakam, marking a friendship and professional partnership that spans his career. Yoakam is a GRAMMY-winning trailblazer known for his pioneering blend of honky tonk, rock and punk that shook up the country scene in the 80's with his blend of "cowpunk." 

The pair frequently joined forces on Yoakam's SiriusXM Radio spot "Greater Bakersfield," where one standout 2018 appearance features Malone covering Yoakam's own “Thousand Miles From Nowhere” as the two laugh, strum and belt out the lyrics together in perfect harmony. 

On April Fool's Day in 2021, they playfully teased fans with the prospect of a double country album release — which may not seem so far-fetched three years later.

It's fitting that Malone would find such deep inspiration in folks like Yoakam, a man who first rode onto the country scene with a new take on a traditional sound. Much like Yoakam bridged generations with his music, Malone brings a new yet familiar energy to the country scene, embodying the spirit of a modern cowboy in both style and sound.

A Country Tribute To Elvis

Malone teamed up with Keith Urban for a duet rendition of "Baby, What You Want Me to Do" during the "Elvis All-Star Tribute Special," which aired on NBC in 2019. Originally written and performed by blues musician and songwriter Jimmy Reed, "Baby, What You Want Me to Do" was famously covered by Presley and commemorated through Urban and Malone's unique blend of modern guitar-slapping country-rock charisma. 

That wasn't Malone's only country collab that night, either. He also covered Presley's "Blue Suede Shoes" alongside Blake Shelton, Little Big Town and Mac Davis.

A Celebration Of Texas With Country Legends

In March 2021, Matthew McConaughey and his wife, Camila, hosted the "We’re Texas" virtual benefit concert, to help Texans coping with that year's disastrous winter storms during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Following performances by George Strait, Kacey Musgraves, Willie Nelson, and Miranda Lambert, Malone — who moved to Dallas when he was 10 — served as the night's final entertainer. He performed Brad Paisley's "I'm Gonna Miss Her" followed by Sturgill Simpson's "You Can Have The Crown" backed by Dwight Yoakam.

A Rousing Tribute At The 2023 CMA Awards

At the 2023 CMA Awards, Malone joined country stars Morgan Wallen and HARDY on stage to cover late icon Joe Diffie‘s “Pickup Man” and "John Deere Green." Malone's first-ever performance at the CMAs felt more like a reunion than a debut, with Malone right at home among his collaborators.

“I’ve manifested this for years," HARDY told Audacy's Katie Neal. "Slight flex here, but I started following [Post Malone] when he had like, 300k Instagram followers. I was on the 'White Iverson' terrain, like the first thing that he ever put out and I was like, ‘this is dope,’ and I've been with him ever since.” 

After the performance, Malone hinted to Access Hollywood that it might be the start of a new chapter. When asked if a forthcoming country album would be in the works, he answered, “I think so. Yes, ma'am.” (More on that later.)

A Countrified Appearance At Super Bowl LVIII

Before Beyoncé announced COWBOY CARTER in a Verizon Super Bowl ad, Malone offered Super Bowl Sunday's first country-themed clue at the top of the night with his tender rendition of "America The Beautiful." Sporting a bolo tie and brown suede, Malone delivered his patriotic performance with a characteristically country drawl while strumming along on acoustic guitar before Reba McIntire's star-spangled rendition of the national anthem. 

Malone's performance followed in the footsteps of a long line of country artists who have kicked off the national sporting event, which started with Charley Pride in 1974 and has included Shania Twain, Faith Hill and Garth Brooks

A Tip Of The Hat To Toby Keith

During a performance at the American Rodeo in Arlington, Texas, on March 9, Malone paid tribute to the late Toby Keith, who passed away in February. After pouring one out and taking a sip from a red solo cup (an homage to Keith's playful hit of the same name), Malone performed a cover of "As Good As I Once Was" for the Texas rodeo crowd.

His TikTok video of the performance quickly garnered over 4 million views, sparking enthusiasm among fans for more country music from him. "Sir. I'm now begging for a country album," wrote one user in a comment that has received over 11,000 hearts.

A (Potential) Full-On Country Album

His much-teased country album may not be too yonder. After confirming that a country album was in the works during a live Twitch stream on his channel, Malone has spent much of this year teasing forthcoming new work. There is no scheduled album release date as of press time, but Malone has shared snippets of new songs including “Missin’ You Like This” and dropped sneak peeks of collaborations with Morgan Wallen, HARDY, Ernest, and Luke Combs

In February, Malone posted a sample of a collaboration with Combs, "I Ain't Got A Guy For That," the first in a series of song snippets shared across his social channels. 

On March 20, Malone posted a reel to Instagram featuring a video of himself seated on a stool, smoking a cigarette and singing along to a track that opens with Wallen singing, “It takes two to break a heart in two,” as Malone comes in to deliver a blow with the line, “Baby you blame me, and baby I’ll blame you." The track, shared with the caption (and supposed song title) "I had some help," was first announced in a now-deleted social media post by Wallen at the end of 2023. 

No matter when the album may come, Post Malone’s Stagecoach set will only up the anticipation for some original country music from the star — and from the looks of it, fans and genre stars alike are more than ready for it.

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