The two reminisced and shared thoughts on country music’s finest and came to a quick mutual agreement that the pendulum seems to be swinging back towards traditional country music in the mainstream.
They both had a lot of praise for Ernest as well.
Tracy Lawrence shared with Billy that when he first began his radio show in 2015, one of the major reasons was because of the lack of music from his generation being played on the radio.
He shared with Dean:
“The whole premise of [the radio show] was that we didn’t feel like we were hearing the music of our era very much… it had just basically stopped.
Everything was all about bro country and ridin’ around with the tailgate down.”
Billy Dean shared his own struggles with the transitions of country music. He thought he was really shifting the meter when he released “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” with its unique sound and fiddle backdrop.
Billy recalled later hearing Big and Rich’s “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” and thinking:
“I heard that and I went, oh my God, someone’s just moved the entire production box of country music. And I thought… I need something like that if I’m ever gonna get back on the radio… and I just didn’t write that kinda stuff.”
It’s hard to imagine “Only Here for a Little While” singer, Billy Dean, feeling inadequate in a genre he helped to develop. But the constant shifts of country music’s sound are hard to deny.
“It just seems like the culture has changed so much,”
Tracy said before asking Billy if he ever listened to the radio anymore, or if there was even anyone he liked in the current country era.
Billy hesitated, and the two laughed before he candidly admitted that only one in about every five songs stands out to him on today’s radio.
“I like Eric Church, ya know I like authenticity… but ya know, I like Ernest.”
Dean even shared that he once took Ernest to the Pancake Pantry when he was just a kid. He went on to explain that his connection to Ernest’s sound wasn’t from his familiarity to him, it actually stemmed from much more.
“The reason I like these guys, like Ernest, he pays tribute to the past. He’s very respectful of guys like us.”
“Ya know he’s a student like we were, he appreciates the culture of where it came from… he’s a true songwriter.
And I think some of that’s starting to swing back. There’s a young culture of these guys that are bringing that passion and love for the craft back… and they’re not chasing that pop thing.”
As the rhythm of country music sways back and forth, as it has for generations, both Billy Dean and Tracy Lawrence shared the same thoughts… the resurgence of an older traditional sound is fantastic to hear.