Charlie Worsham’s “Cut Your Groove” from his forthcoming album Beginning of Things (out April 21) is a solid reminder that no matter what happens in life, the world keeps spinning. Be glad in it. Co-written with Oscar Charles, strings and surprise horns provide an uplifting accompaniment to the song’s positive message.
Worsham sings, “A lot of the time you won’t be on top/When you fall off the charts don’t let it stop you/It’s part of the charm as the crackle and the pop and the hiss/There’s a song for the taste of your first kiss/A tune for the blues you feel when you miss/The one you love but can’t be with/It’s a crazy trip, it’s a crazy trip.”
“The new album will be on vinyl and ‘Cut Your Groove’ kicks off side B,” Worsham told CMT.com. “It’s sort of a sister song to track No. 2 ‘Please People Please.’ I think those songs are a little psychological bloodletting and a lot of my getting the frustrations from that first album cycle out. … It’s about happiness being attached to expectations. And expectations being the driving force is not really a good way to go long term.”
For our CMT.com interview, the Granada, Mississippi, native picked an afternoon of barbecue at Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint and record shopping at one of his favorite Nashville music places, Ernest Tubb Record Shop. He considers the store’s section of pre-loved vinyl from Marty Stuart’s personal collection the most important record shopping in country music.
“Growing up, I used to think ‘Walking the Floor Over You’ was talking about the upstairs of the shop like Ernest Tubb lived up above it or something,” Worsham admitted, referring to the Country Music Hall of Fame member’s signature song. “And Ernest Tubb — six degrees of separation — had a very strong connection to Mississippi. Even though he was from Texas, Jimmie Rodgers was his guy. It wasn’t until he got a tonsillectomy that messed up his voice that he stopped singing like Jimmie Rodgers and started singing like Ernest. It turns out it was a blessing in disguise.”
Worsham picked up some Merle Haggard and Flatt & Scruggs. By the end of the chat, the scent of Martin’s Big Brother Sampler and old vinyl lingered on our hands. It’s not a bad way to spend a sleepy afternoon on Lower Broadway. Across the street, passersbys walked past his first Nashville stage — the street corner in front of the former home of Gruhn Guitars. The building is currently under construction and turning into a new Nashville location of Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row bar and restaurant.
He remembers playing the corner growing up while visiting town for music lessons over summer vacations. At age 10, he picked banjo for tips in front of Gruhn’s to make an extra $100 to add to the $500 he had saved to buy his first Fender Telecaster guitar at the store. Folks were apparently suckers for his version of the bluegrass instrumental, “Shuckin’ the Corn.”
“When you’re a chubby kid playing banjo back in the ‘90s on Lower Broadway, you could clean up $50 an hour in tips easy,” Worsham said with a laugh.
Although he wouldn’t mind spending his elder years pub crawling in Edinburgh, Scotland, Worhsam considers himself a Nashville lifer for now. His sophomore album Beginning of Things was mostly recorded at Southern Ground Studios off Music Row with producers Frank Liddell, Eric Masse and Arturo Buenahora Jr. before Liddell and Masse worked together on Miranda Lambert’s The Weight of These Wings.
Both Lambert and Worsham’s collections share similarities in their sonic experimentation and offer accurate snapshots of each artist in their respective creative spaces. Wings is a journey in self-acceptance, while Worsham’s Beginning of Things is an exploration in the musical geography that raised him. However, he’s careful not to label his new project a straight-up roots record.
“It’s not a hydroponic record,” he said with a laugh. “We dug up my ground, planted some shit, and it grew. It definitely recalls all the styles that make up the foundation of who I am in music. But for a guy who is kind of associated as being more country, there are definitely parts of the record that are out there.
“I grew up 100 miles south of Memphis,” he added. “Muscle Shoals is not that far down the road. With the influences of Roger Miller and John Mayer, it’s more nostalgic than throwback. I think there’s a slight difference but an important one.
“What it isn’t is a bunch of songs that we all thought sounded like would be hits. Nobody wants a No. 1 song more than I do. But in this whole process of the record we made, Frank got me out of thinking along those lines. It became about telling the truth and getting to the heart of that emotion.”
The title track along with four additional new songs, including “Cut Your Groove,” will be available with digital pre-orders of the album starting Friday (Jan. 27).