Cody Johnson teamed up with the legendary Reba McEntire for a stellar duet version of his new single “Dear Rodeo.” Reba, whose father was a rodeo champion, grew up on the rodeo circuit and spent many years competing herself. And of course Cody was a bull rider before he left the rodeo to pursue a career in country music.
So naturally, when she heard Cody’s “Dear Rodeo,” it immediately resonated with her. In an exclusive preview event, Cody and Reba discussed what the song meant to them. Reba called the song “so heartfelt.”
“(This song) is so heartfelt. People can think on the very surface that it is about rodeo, but then when a person listens to it, it could be a girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife, relationship, or life in general. So it has got legs. It’s like throwing a rock in a pond and the ripples are taking effect. I was thrilled to pieces, and I fell in love with it because of my rodeo background. I did have to say goodbye to the rodeo, and so this really settled in my bones.”
And the first time she heard it, it instantly transported her back to her childhood.
“It took me to the 70s, when I realized that my rodeo career was going absolutely nowhere. And that I did have a God-given talent and I needed to be using it. My daddy used to always say, “Reba, why do you always want to do things you’re not good at?” I know he was trying to get me back to my music, my God-given gift. And so this was kind of a reminder that it’s going to be okay, that if you do leave rodeo for the music, you’re going to be okay. I knew I was going to miss it. And I was mad because I love that life of rodeo. I’m a third generation rodeo brat. Were you angry to leave the rodeo for music?”
And while Cody had to come to terms with his regret and sadness while he was writing it, he has now found a sense of peace with the song. Even though is isn’t riding bulls anymore, there’s nothing left to prove.
“The story behind ‘Dear Rodeo’ is more a story about life and less about rodeo. I feel like everybody has their own ‘Dear Rodeo’ story and when I found out that Reba was impacted by this song enough to want to do a duet, it was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my career. Reba adds a certain level of authenticity to this song that makes it so special. I love it when people sing songs about rodeo and cowboys, but there’s a little bit of a different feel when you know that somebody can walk the walk they’re talking. Neither one of us has a problem saying ‘Hey, this is where I come from, you can check the credentials, we’ve got the scars to prove it.’ I think that the honesty is really going to speak to people, and hopefully we can help people with this song.”
Like I said earlier, CoJo and Reba… it doesn’t get much better than that.