Luke Grimes On Loving Sad Country Songs And Willie Nelson: “That’s The Most Quintessential For Me”

Luke Grimes country music
Instagram/Luke Grimes

A man after my own heart…

I have to say, I’m possibly most intrigued to hear what Luke Grimes has coming on his debut country album more than any other project this year.

The Yellowstone star you may know best as Kayce Dutton in the hit Paramount series is in the process of working on his first full-length record, which he’d previously said was due out sometime in 2023.

Every single he’s released so far has been super solid, and it’s no secret that transitioning from the world of acting into country music is not easy, and something most people really can’t pull off to be honest.

It caught my attention immediately when he mentioned legends like Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson as musical inspirations, in addition to writing with some of the best Nashville has to offer, like Brent Cobb and Jessi Alexander.

And on a recent episode of Southern Accents Radio with Dave Cobb on Apple Music Country, Luke went very in-depth on some of his favorite country music with his producer, saying that while he wasn’t allowed to listen to a lot of secular music growing up because his dad was a a pastor, they always had on outlaw country:

“There was a kind of a playlist that we would play when we would go hunting before we weren’t really allowed to listen to secular music in the house.

We could listen to the oldies cuz they never said anything. They weren’t bad. Questionable.”

To which Cobb hilariously added:

“Yeah, ‘Tutti Fruiti’ wasn’t about sex.”

Luke also said that one of his all-time favorite, quintessential sad country songs is Willie Nelson’s “Always on My Mind,” which he called “sad as hell,” and I couldn’t agree with him more… it’s always been one of my favorites, too, so anyone who shares that love of the classic country hit is alright by me:

“Exactly. So I don’t, a little backstory, my dad was a pastor, so, you know, very religious household. We didn’t really listen to a lot of secular music, music that was on the radio.

It was mostly gospel stuff. But when we would go hunting once a year, my dad sort of had this kind of playlist of, you know, old outlaw country stuff that he would play.

And that song was always on there, ‘Always On My Mind’ and again, sad as hell, you know. Out of all of the Willie songs, that one’s just sort of the most quintessential for me.

I think there was about 20 songs that on that sort of country playlist, I was just thinking of the ones that stuck out the most.”

“Always On My Mind” is of course one of the red headed stranger’s signature songs, and was written by Wayne Carson, Johnny Christopher and Mark James. It was actually originally recorded by Gwen McCrae as “You Were Always on My Mind” in 1972.

It became the title track to Willie’s 1982 album, and a monster #1 single on the Billboard U.S. Hot Country Songs chart that year.

His version secured three wins at the 25th Grammy Awards in 1983, as Wayne, Johnny and Mark won Song of the Year and Best Country Song, and Willie won for Best Male Country Vocal Performance. More on that HERE.

Luke also said he remembered listening to Waylon’s “Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)” as a kid going on hunting trips with his dad and brothers, which shaped his love of classic, outlaw country:

“That’s the Willie and the, and the Luckenbach, the next one on the list, sort of the two that kind of stuck out the most.

And this, you know, we would all sing them together and, you know, ‘Luckenbach Texas’ was like a great song to sing with, like a car full of boys, you know.”

If nothing else, he clearly has a very deep respect and understanding of the genre, which is definitely a great starting point when it comes to writing and making music.

Included on his playlist for this episode with the uber-talented producer Dave Cobb was of course Willie Nelson, Jason Isbell, Jeff Buckley, and even Blaze Foley, who Luke previously covered with a rendition of “Clay Pigeons”:

A pretty impressive lineup and solid playlist, and like I said, I couldn’t be more intrigued to hear this full album hopefully sooner rather than later.

He’s been hitting the festival circuit this year too, playing Under The Big Sky Festival and Stagecoach already, with several more to come before it’s all said and done.

Luke has released four singles from his forthcoming (yet still unofficially announced) record so far, including “No Horse To Ride,” “Oh Ohio,” “Hold On,” and most recently, “Playin’ On The Tracks,” which was actually a co-write with Dave Cobb’s cousin, the very talented Brent Cobb.

“Playin’ On The Tracks”:

“Hold On”

“No Horse To Ride”

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock