“It was very intriguing for me to sit here and go, ‘OK, one of the biggest television shows in the history of television is wanting to pay you a ton of money' ... And 10 years ago, I'd probably took two or three days to think about it or a week and then probably done it,” he said.
“In about five seconds, it was like, ‘I need to say no right now before I change my mind.' Because I know two or three weeks into that grind ... I'd be going, ‘I cannot believe that I'm stuck here working like this for money.' 'Cause my heart wouldn't be in it. So I politely declined and was very happy with my decision.”
For “Hope on the Rocks,” he wrote or co-wrote with his longtime collaborators all 10 tracks on the standard edition.
“Writing is not work. In fact, there's nothing better,” he said. “Writing is something that if the music business went completely away tomorrow — radio stations quit existing and music quit being popular and it was old hat — I would still write songs. It doesn't matter. When you've got an extra gear in your head where that's all you do, you've constantly got a little radar up. ... And when something hits that strikes that beeper, hits that radar, it's like my song skills kick right in and go, ‘Oh, OK, there's a song in that.' And then I start trying to figure it out.”
As he has discovered over the years, inspiration can come from anywhere. The new collection's first single, “I Like Girls That Drink Beer,” is dedicated to a friend's wife who orders Coronas instead of cocktails at his country club, while the title track, which he called his favorite on the album, developed after someone mentioned a former neighbor who drifted away years ago.
A couple of funny sayings his dad favored actually inspired two tracks: the playfully bawdy “The Size I Wear” and the colorful story-song “Scat Cat.”
“When somebody would sneeze, instead of saying ‘God bless,' he'd say ‘scat cat, you got gravy on your tail.' But I just incorporated it (to) paint a picture: Way out in the sticks, last of the moonshiners ... and it made it a nice tie for it. What it means or what it stands for, I don't know.”
That's a creative writer for you.