Collin Raye’s Favorite Career Moments? Working With His ‘Heroes’
In August of 1991, Collin Raye released his debut album, All I Can Be, a project that included the chart-topping single "Love, Me" and the Top 5 single "Every Second." In the 25 years since, Raye has released more than 20 Top 10 tunes and half a dozen Top 20 records, but his favorite moments don't involve those accolades or other awards; rather, the singer-songwriter cherishes the relationships that he's made with fellow artists -- "heroes of mine," Raye calls them.
"I got to work with the Beach Boys, with Brian Wilson, all of them," Raye tells The Boot, referencing his contribution to the iconic band's Stars and Stripes Vol. 1 album, "Sloop John B." "That was pretty special ... How many people can say they got to do that? Carl Wilson was still alive, and I’ve always loved the Beach Boys, so that was a huge deal."
Raye has also had opportunities to interact with some of country music's biggest legends, including Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings. More important than playing with those big names, though, is how those artists "respected what I did," Raye says.
"I think that means more to me than trophies and awards, because these are the greats; these are the Mount Rushmores of music. And they are saying, ‘We like you. You’re one of us,'" Raye explains. "And I could never get comfortable with that idea."
As he approaches his musical quarter-century mark, Raye's touring schedule remains busy -- and he's grateful for that.
"The very fact that I still tour as much as I do and people still remember all the songs the way they do and I can still sing them the same way, I never expected that," Raye admits. "When I first got my record deal, I thought, ‘If I can have a 10-year career, I’ll be happy. I’ll be satisfied.' And here we are."
To mark the special occasion, Raye is also working on a new record: 25 of his biggest hits, re-recorded in their original keys. The songs, Raye says, sound "better than the original versions, sonically ... fresher and newer."
"People ask, ‘How do you beat the original?’" Raye acknowledges. "Well, when you’re first cutting a song, it’s brand-new to you. You’ve just learned it. You’re learning it as you go, and you’re reading the lyrics, and you’re trying to learn the melody. After you sing them all these years, you better sing them better because you know them so well."
Raye has not shared a track listing for the project, but chances are good that both "April Fool" and "Little Rock" will make it on there; the artist admits that those two tunes are still favorites of his to perform.
"It's a slice of absolute poetry," Raye says of "April Fool," adding that "Little Rock" is a song "that forces you to think about the lyrics when you're singing it ... You're always singing it like it's the first time."
Raye hopes to finish his new album in time for a summer release.