Shelton joined Nichols on his song "I Got Friends That Do" from Nichols' new album "Good Day for Living." The song is a blue-collar anthem that celebrates having fun and generous friends. "I Got Friends That Do" spotlights two of country music's most distinct voices from the last 20 years and pairs them with production from Mickey Jack Cones and Derek George that could flourish just as easily in 2000 as it does today.
"Blake didn't have to do this duet," Nichols told PEOPLE. "He probably had people on his team that were saying, 'Do you really need to do a duet with Joe Nichols?' But he did it. He jumped on it. And that's a good dude."
Nichols said "I Got Friends That Do" is a bit of art imitating life. The pair started in Nashville about the same time more than two decades ago. They used to sit around in Shelton's house, drink beer, and complain about the music industry.
"We would talk about the normal stuff you do when you're an artist, and you haven't had a single out, and you're all impatient," Nichols said.
When it came time to record the song, their longstanding friendship came into play again. Shelton and Nichols talked about the music over the phone and then sent their vocals back and forth.
"We were able to feed off of each other, even though we were a thousand miles apart," Nichols said.
Nichols laughed that people used to mistake him for Shelton in the early days all the time. That doesn't happen anymore, but he marvels at the antics Shelton gets away with.
"It's fascinating to me that as outrageous as he is and in the times we live in, that guy can say some stuff that I could never say," Nichols said. "If that stuff came out of my mouth, people would say I sound like a jerk. But if it comes out of him, it's hilarious."