The late country singer and rodeo star is survived by five kids, but his son Ned, 39, is the only one who has been following in his dad’s footsteps.
“I’ve always known music was the path I wanted to take,” he told me. “And I’m grateful every day that I can say I play country music for a living.”
On Friday (Dec. 2), Ned released a new five-song EP Forever a Cowboy, and on it is one very special song. It was one his father started, and he finished.
It goes like this.
A few years after Chris died in 2005, his wife ran across some papers with his song ideas on them. Those papers eventually made their way to Ned.
“They were all handwritten, and they were basically just like poems,” he said. “Only two or three lines, and some of the lines were crossed out, like he didn’t want to use them. There were no patterns. Just lines like, ‘I drive a rusted pickup truck,’ and one about rusted barbed wire. He must’ve been working on it and then put it away.”
Once Ned and singer/songwriter/producer Mac McAnally sat down with the unfinished songs, they filled in the blanks and came up with “We Ain’t Got It All.”
“We tried to hone in on what dad must’ve been trying to do with that one,” he said. “I’d like to think he’d be happy with the way it turned out. Because we didn’t go too far off the path that he was on.”
An earlier tribute to LeDoux was released shortly after he died in 2005. Garth Brooks recorded a song called “Good Ride Cowboy,” all about the rodeo and music life that Chris was living, and what it must’ve been like when he got to heaven: “I bet he crossed that River Jordan/With St. Peter on the other side, singing good ride, cowboy, good ride.”
“’Good Ride Cowboy’ was such a great tribute to dad,” he said. “It was neat how they incorporate different song titles of dad’s. I get a big ol’ grin on my face every time I hear it. Garth’s always been very supportive of dad and his music. They were pretty good buddies.”
Brooks had been a fan of Chris’ for years, even though he was relatively unknown until Brook’s 1989 debut single “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)” mentioned him in the third verse: “The worn out tape of Chris LeDoux, lonely women, and bad booze seem to be the only friends I’ve left at all.” In a live version of the song, Brooks screams out, “God bless Chris LeDoux.”
As for his own music, Ned is trying to pick up where his dad left off, and to stay true to the life he’s living.
“I’m just trying to put the cowboy back in country,” he said. “I’m a terrible pretender, so I just stick to my guns.”