Jake Owen’s current single, “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” seems to be living up to the song’s lyrics — “shining like a lighter in the middle of a rock show.” After all, it’s already reached gold status for selling more than 500,000 digital downloads and continues to climb the Billboard country charts, currently sitting at No. 2.
It’s the title track of his just-released third album. With catchy hooks and a few poignant ballads thrown in the mix, it’s filled with tracks he likes to call “good-feelin’ songs that touch you.”
During a recent interview with CMT.com, Owen talked about his summertime anthem, the recurring woman in his music videos and life on the road with Keith Urban.
CMT: It seems as though “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” was written with you in mind. How did it come to be that you got it? What did you think when you first heard it?
Jake Owen: It’s just one of those songs that instantly when I heard it, I was like, “Man, that’s pretty much me,” you know? I mean, now the only reason I’ve got shoes on is because they make me have them in here. (laughs) But I can take off my sandals and kick back in barefoot. When I heard the song, it was just one of those nostalgic kind of feeling songs that was easy to sing along to. That’s what music is anyway. If you can give somebody something that feels good, the melody sounds great and then vocally, and it’s easy to sing along with, that usually works.
The music video looks just as fun, too. What do you remember the most from that day you shot it?
Just the fun time that I had. It really did not feel at all like I was making a video.
And you were wakeboarding in it.
Did that make you nervous?
No. I broke my board. I did a big flip. The first flip I did, I didn’t land it, and it snapped my board in half. We actually took the board and I signed it, and the label’s going to give it away or do something with it. [Editor’s note: The board landed at CMT and is up for grabs during an exclusive CMT Sweepstakes running through Sept. 25.]
“Anywhere With You” talks about going to great lengths for the woman you love. What’s the wildest thing you’ve ever done to impress a woman?
I don’t really know. I mean, recently, I threw my girlfriend a birthday party that I thought was pretty cool. It took a lot of effort on my part, I mean, as busy as I am on the road. And she actually is the girl in the “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” video. But she had never had a birthday [party] before. I wanted to make sure it was a fun time, so I got a band, I rented a photo booth and a bar and just had a bunch of people there. It was a lot of fun. It was one of the most fun times I’ve had in a long time. I knew she was happy. … My music really parallels my life in the fact that it’s what I do. The things I do are really within my lyrics — whether I wrote it or not.
Was she your girlfriend before the video shoot or did you meet her on the set?
She was in the “Eight Second Ride” video I had two years ago, and so we just kept in touch. I mean, she was definitely not my girlfriend. I don’t even really like to call her — she doesn’t even like — I don’t really even like to call her my girlfriend now. But I mean, we are. We’ve been dating for a while. It’s kind of one of those cool things where it just works out, you know? Like, years pass. Two years passed, and we somehow came back together. And here we are.
In “Journey of Your Life,” you sing about a grandfather giving words of wisdom and advice. Who has been that person in your life?
My granddad. My granddad, for sure, is the rock of my family, which is why when I heard that song, it just really hit home to me. My granddad’s one of those guys, whatever he says, you listen. He doesn’t just talk to talk, which maybe I could learn from that a little bit. I tend to just run my mouth sometimes. That song really is just a profound song with a lot of really, really deep lyrics, and I’m proud that no one had recorded that before me and I got the chance to do it.
You’re currently on tour with Keith Urban. What’s that experience been like for you?
It’s been awesome. He’s just such a good guy. I mean, what you see is what you get. The guy is really truly a humble, laid-back guy that’s unbelievably talented on his guitar and singing and songwriting. And he’s just been really gracious to me and made my life a lot more pleasant. Just to know that he’s really supportive of what I’m doing. He’s so great at what he does that it’s really humbling to feel accepted out there.
What have you learned from him that’s been the most valuable?
The most valuable thing I’ve learned from him is how to stay positive and just to keep a positive attitude and always look at the bright side of things and to be — they were commenting on this the other day out there — how you can be the climate, not the thermometer. Where you can control what the thermometer says just by being the climate. You know, if you’re angry or not having a good day and you show that, the people around you are going to be affected like a thermometer would, you know? But if you’re making it feel good, then it will show.
How has he been different from other big acts you’ve toured with?
The big difference is that it’s just the two of us out there. There’s no third act. Where most tours I’ve ever been on, I was the opening act of three, so I only got to play for like 15 or 20 minutes. Whereas now, I play for 40 minutes, and it’s just the two of us, and I’m really well accepted out there. People are really enjoying our show. We get a full 40 minutes with them — with lights and arena. That’s a huge, big step for me.
I read that you said, “If you want to get better at your craft, you have to push yourself, take risks and try something different.” So what kind of risks have you had to take to get to where you are now?
I put aside a lot of my own songs that I had written and started recording some outside songs that I thought were better. That’s kind of risky when it comes to your own. Most people think in order to validate yourself as an artist, you have to write your own songs. I commend the guys that do. I’ve done it. But I also think that you can pick great songs outside that you didn’t write that can help your career.