CMT Insider Interview: Josh Turner (Part Two of Two)

Singer-Songwriter Talks About Fatherhood, Love Songs and Freezer Food

In the second half of an interview with CMT Insider’s Allison DeMarcus, Josh Turner talks more about his new album, Haywire, about getting choked up during one of the recording sessions, discovering his son’s talent for music and celebrating his record deal with a frozen dinner.

DeMarcus: “I’ll Be There,” one of the songs on the new album, was a really special song for you as a father, right?

Turner: Yeah. That was written by Steven Dale Jones and Phillip White. I’m a big fan of theirs. … Steven has kind of an interesting style of writing. He’s one of the guys who really writes from the heart, whether you like it or not. He’s not out there trying to write this typical manufactured kind of stuff. He’s really writing stuff that means something. And so he wrote it about his son. When I heard it, I could just tell it was a genuinely-written song.

And you could certainly relate.

Oh, absolutely. But even as much as I could relate to the song, I still didn’t foresee how it was going to hit me when I went in and made my own record on it. I went in to the studio, and the father in me came out for the first time. It was hard for me to just get through the song because all I could see in my mind was the picture of my boys. [Turner’s son are Hampton, 3, and Colby, 7 months.] It was a tough song to sing but I think those are the best kinds of songs — the kind that really make you feel something.

What’s it like being a father to two boys now instead of just one?

It’s fun. I’m going to have a lot of help on the farm pretty soon. Thank goodness! I love my boys. I love watching them growing up. I love seeing them develop, and I’m always looking forward to seeing what they’re going to become and what they’re going to be interested in later in life. I want to teach them to appreciate the important things in life and to take responsibility for their actions and to strive to be the best at whatever they want to do. But, yeah, they’re great entertainment. They keep us laughing all the time, but then there’s other times they’ll rip your heart out with things they say because they’re just so honest and so bold. It’s just uninhibited. So it’s cool being a parent. You hear people say all the time you’ll learn more from your children than they’ll learn from you. That’s the God’s honest truth right there.

Do you think that either one of them is going to be musical?

Hampton’s already musical. He sings all the time and he loves pretending to play instruments, banging on the piano or the drums or whatever it may be. But children go from one thing to another when they’re really young, so it’ll be interesting to see if that sticks with him or if it doesn’t. But he’s got great rhythm, a great sense of pitch.

You’re really known for love songs. Is that a lot of pressure, or do you love singing them, too?

Oh, that’s not hard for me because I know people love “love songs,” and that’s such a big part of people’s lives. That’s just part of who I am. Everything I do, I do it 100 percent, whether it’s fishing or loving my wife. It’s something I’m going to put all of myself into. I love deeply, and when it comes to singing love songs and something that I have no problem doing, I put all of my heart and soul into these love songs. I know my fans out there are listening, taking these songs to heart. Like I say, they’re relating these songs to their lives, too, and their relationships.

You hit the ground running with “Long Black Train,” and things haven’t calmed down since. Can you believe that you’ve been an artist now for nine years?

Sometimes it feels like I’ve been in the business forever, but then other times, it feels like kind of a flash. Growing up, all I wanted to do was sing. All I wanted to do was get on a bus and ride around the country and sing for people and be a household name. I didn’t really know how I was going to get there. I just knew that I could. I knew that it was going to be a day-to-day process. So there was a lot of stuff that I did on my own. I mean, I did have help along the way, but a lot of stuff — as far as getting away from Hannah, S.C., to Nashville, Tenn. — a lot of that stuff I had to figure out on my own. And so one story that I’ve told in the past is the day that I signed my record deal with MCA Records. What I did to celebrate was I went home to my 535-square-foot apartment by myself and ate supper by myself. That was how I celebrated getting a record deal.

Do you remember what you ate?

I don’t know. Probably Stouffer’s lasagna.

Whatever was in the freezer that didn’t have freezer burn on it?

Yeah, exactly. That was probably it. I felt like that was kind of symbolic to me. To look back on these nine years almost, it’s kind of crazy because I’ve gone so many places and done so many things and rubbed so many elbows — presidents and leaders and famous people. It’s hard to believe … because when I get around your average everyday person or when I go home back to South Carolina, I hear people talking about certain celebrities, and I’m over there with my mouth shut, saying, “Yeah, if you could only be in a room with them.” Or, “If you only knew the truth.” But you just start learning things about people and learn a lot about life, too. You learn what fame does to people. So not only did I have success and making records for nine years, but I’ve learned a lot about people and about family and about life — and about what’s really important in life, too.

Read the first part of the interview with Josh Turner.