Cledus Serves Up A Six Pack of Judd

On the day their new CD is being released, country artists seldom spend the morning working at a construction site. While others may be toasted at CD release parties, Cledus T. Judd jokes, “I’m out here workin’ on a house when there’s 500,000 units of A Six Pack of Judd being shipped.”

Later on Tuesday (April 29), Judd unveils his new video on CMT during the special one-hour special, MWL — Cledus T. Judd. In the meantime, though, he’s working on the powder room as part of the series, CMT Ultimate Country Home.

Having relinquished his MWL hosting duties to return to the road as the court jester of Brooks & Dunn’s Neon Circus and Wild West Show tour, Judd is excited about the release of his new Monument Records project, A Six Pack of Judd. In an innovative move, the CD contains only six songs, but it’s being sold for less than $10.

“We’re gonna do two of these CDs this year,” Judd explains to CMT.com during a phone call from the CMT Ultimate Country Home site. “Hopefully, if the label keeps me long enough, we’ll eventually have A Case of Judd. Hopefully we’ll do three six packs and then do a Case with the greatest hits.”

With consumers complaining of the high cost of recorded music, Nashville labels might do well to consider dropping prices by releasing shorter music CDs. Judd says, “I know what we spent on this project, and I know a ‘guesstimation’ of how many we’ll sell. I think you can be very profitable.”

Explaining another motive for releasing just six songs at a time, Judd says, “It allows me to be very current. The key to doing parodies is being current. I mean, I can’t do ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’ now.”

Indeed, five of the six parodies are of recent hits, including “270 Somethin’” (inspired by Mark Wills ‘ “19 Somethin’”), “Riding With Inmate Jerome” (a take-off of David Ball ‘s “Riding With Private Malone”), “New Car” (a parody of Kenny Chesney ‘s “Big Star”) and “My Crowd” (spawned from Montgomery Gentry ‘s “My Town”).

During his MWL special, Judd will debut the video for “Where’s Your Mommy?” Judd had a guest role in the video for the song he’s now spoofing, Toby Keith ‘s “Who’s Your Daddy?” Judd says, “It’s probably the funniest video I’ve done. It’s definitely a Three Men and a Baby kind of thing because I’ve never had a child before. It’s got Montgomery Gentry in it, Andy Griggs , Tracy Byrd and, at the end, it’s got a little Toby Keith 8-by-10.”

The one oldie on the new CD is “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Pop,” a parody of the Barbara Mandrell hit, “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool.” On the track, Judd uses humor to point out the current state of country music. “That one definitely has the commentary,” he says. “To me, that’s the funniest one on there. That’s the truest one on there. I think it does make a statement.”

Judd even got some vocal assistance from George Jones, who also contributed a vocal tag to Mandrell’s original. “When I called George Jones and asked if he’d sing on it, he said, ‘What’d you call it?’ I said, ‘I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Pop.’ He said, ‘Hell, that’s the way it oughta been wrote to start with. I’ll do it.’”

Judd and Jones are longtime friends. “I did probably 50 shows with Possum,” Judd notes. “I lost thousands of dollars at the casino with George Jones , trust me.” As for getting him to sing on the CD, Judd explains, “He always told me if I ever needed him, he’d do it. He was just a phone call away.”

When asked if he had any concerns about the song’s lyrics angering the power brokers on Music Row, Judd said, “I don’t really care. It’s about the truth. I’m gonna come from that Toby Keith school for a while. It [country music] is what it is, and I don’t think there’s anybody on Music Row who can argue with it. Put their money where their mouth is.”

Now on the Brooks & Dunn tour for the third consecutive year, Judd is connecting with more fans than ever. “The markets I think I’m not going to be that big in — like a Green Bay or a Maine or Iowa — it always seems to amaze me. The MWL thing has been such a blessing to me, to get my character much more exposure.

“Last year, I’d go out and sign autographs between acts, and I’d attract a little girl who thought I was Lorrie Morgan and a couple of other people. And now, we go out and have to have a couple of security guys to get me to the table, and the line is wrapped around the building. That’s a big thrill.”

Calvin Gilbert has served as CMT.com’s managing editor since 2002. His background includes stints at the Nashville Banner, Radio & Records and Westwood One.