Dustin Lynch Is Cranked Up for ACM Awards

Singer Talks About "Cowboys and Angels," New Single and Summer Tour

It won’t be the first time Dustin Lynch has attended the Academy of Country Music Awards , but Sunday (April 7) will mark the first time the “She Cranks My Tractor” singer steps foot on the show’s red carpet.

“I didn’t get to walk the carpet last year,” says Lynch through a sly grin. “Because there was no point in me being on the carpet!”

This year, things are different for the tradition-minded Tennessee native. One day prior to the ACM Awards, Lynch will perform at the ACM Party for a Cause in Las Vegas on a lineup that also includes Dierks Bentley , Hunter Hayes , the Eli Young Band and many more.

Lynch’s first single “Cowboys and Angels” introduced to him to millions of listeners, his self-titled album hit No. 1 and the follow-up single “She Cranks My Tractor” is currently chugging along in the same direction. Add to that an opening slot on Keith Urban and Little Big Town ’s tour this summer, and Lynch has plenty to talk about.

The ACM Awards are such a huge, glitzy event, and it all starts with the red carpet. What’s a red carpet experience like from an artist’s point of view?

It usually takes about two and a-half hours. It’s a huge line. It’s every media outlet you can possibly dream of. You usually get out of the limo and there are a lot of fans — which is my favorite part — then you walk inside and all of the press photographers are lined up, so you stand on a dot and then like 50 million people are yelling at you trying to get you to look at their camera. Then you move to the next dot and do the same thing for another group.

Then you start chatting with all the news outlets, which is really neat because you get a lot of outlets in Vegas that don’t know a whole lot about country music. So you get some interesting questions — some you’re not used to getting or you’re not supposed to get. They’ll ask like, “So, what do you think about Miley Cyrus’ new tattoo?” And I’m like, “What?” Just bizarre questions like that, so it’s fun to cut up and shoot from the hip. You’re worn out by the time you get to the show.

“Cowboys and Angels” was obviously really big for you, and I thought it showed off a sensitive side. Why was it important for you to start off your career like that?

A lot of people ask me why we did it. For me, I think “Cowboys and Angels” was a special song because I wrote it. I wrote it with my grandparents in mind because they were high school sweethearts. That’s really neat to me. I still think it’s kind of a tip of the hat back to classic country. My favorite country music is back to the mid ’90s — it had a little bit more country feel than a lot of stuff on the radio today.

Where do you think that sensitivity comes from?

Probably my mom, I’m a mama’s boy. (laughs) But I think that’s what’s so cool about music. Everybody shares the same emotion. That’s one thing we all have in common, and if you can capture that in a three-minute song, that’s a magical thing.

“She Cranks My Tractor” is totally the opposite end of the spectrum. Who could have sung that song back when you were listening in the ’90s?

Well, you look back, and “John Deere Green” by Joe Diffie was a big one. “Third Rock From the Sun,” “Papa Loved Mama” — there were a lot of those quick-tempo songs. It’s funny you said that because when we wrote that song we wanted something like “Ain’t Going Down (Til the Sun Comes Up)” by Garth Brooks , and I had that title. It’s just a fun song. “Cowboys and Angels” was a serious love song, but this was a fun love song.

Where did you get that title?

I have no idea. I had it for a while, but I was kind of scared because I was a new artist and didn’t have a lot of songwriting under my belt. To throw out a title like that is kind of embarrassing. But I finally got the nerve to say it around [producer] Brett Beavers and [songwriter] Tim Nichols, and they jumped all over it.

You’ve written a lot of songs, but what has been inspiring you for the most recent ones?

I’m writing like crazy. I’m always flying songwriters in and out to meet us on the road because it’s a new chapter for me. I’d never been west of the Mississippi River before we started doing radio tours. So I’m getting to see this whole new world I have never been exposed to, and this country has little pockets from different cultures, so it’s fun to draw from those things. I can’t talk about it because the album is so far in the future, but I’m very confident to say we have some very good stuff already on the second album that just makes me smile.

You’ll be opening shows on the upcoming tour with Keith Urban and Little Big Town. What was your immediate reaction when you found out about it?

I was actually on a sidewalk in Lexington, Ky., and I started running up and down and fist pumping. It was a cool moment obviously. But it was super way in advance before we could announce it, so it was tough to keep it secret. I couldn’t even tell my band because we couldn’t take the risk of letting it out, so I had to wait two and a-half months before I could even tell my band guys. Now that’s tough. But it was a cool experience when I got to sit everyone down as a band and said, “We’re going on tour with Little Big Town and Keith Urban.” Everybody just started screaming.

Writer/producer for CMT.com and CMT Edge. He's been to Georgia on a fast train. He wasn't born no yesterday.