Josh Turner Celebrates Family, Faith and Love on New Release
Everyone has heard that old expression "art imitates life," and with one listen to Josh Turner's new CD, 'Haywire,' it's easy to see the South Carolina-born hitmaker has found inspiration right under his own roof. The new project is a track-by-track reflection of the singer's happy marriage and the joy he finds in being a father to sons Hampton, 3, and Colby, 7 months.
"We ended up with a lot of love songs," Josh tells The Boot. "I guess it was just meant for me to record love songs and the funny thing is, it is coming out five days before Valentine's Day. Everything happens for a reason."
Sitting in the conference room at his manager's office, Josh is relaxed and happy, periodically glancing out the window at the Nashville skyline, remarking how much he enjoys the view. His long-awaited 'Haywire' releases on Feb. 9. The standard edition features 11 songs, among them the soulful, romantic 'Lovin' You on My Mind,' a sultry cover of the Don Williams classic 'I Wouldn't Be A Man' and the poignant 'I'll Be There,' a father's declaration of devotion to his children.
"Who's not a fan of Don Williams? He's the gentle giant," Josh says of the veteran artist. "A lot of artists emulate what he has done because he just had a knack for picking great songs that were timeless. I don't know when exactly this song was recorded, but it's still relevant today. When I listened to it, I got thinking I could really make my own version. I was very confident that I could go in and completely reinvent this song, and that's what we did. I'm very proud of it."
Another song Josh is particularly proud of is the final track, 'The Answer.' "Sometimes I can't believe I wrote it, but I wrote it with one of my best friends, Mark Narmore. He's a great writer," Josh says. "He and I are both strong in our faith, and we both love country music. I had the title 'Jesus Is the Answer' written down for a long time, and I really didn't have anything beyond that etched out. I threw the title idea at him, and he loved it. I told him the way I look at it, everybody in the world seems to always be looking for an answer to something, some sort of problem or challenge they have in their life. They are looking for the answer, and they can't seem to find it. So I just felt like it was a really profound statement to tell people, 'Hey, Jesus is the answer!' The first time I heard it -- after the choir was added and it was mixed, it just brought tears to my eyes."
Another song that puts a lump in Josh's throat is 'I'll Be There.' "I don't know if it's a song that I'm going to be able to pull off live every night, just because it just hits close to home," he says of the heartfelt ballad. "It makes me think about myself as a daddy, and when I'm up on stage that's the furthest thing from my mind because I try to separate the two. When I'm up on stage, I'm thinking more about my fans and about myself as a singer and an artist. When I'm at home being a daddy, the last thing I'm thinking about is being an artist. It is two things that I never really put together."
When asked if Hampton realizes yet what his dad does for a living, Josh replies, "He's three and he knows that I'm in music and that I sing a lot, but I don't think he realizes that that's my job. He sees that it's cool and fun. He's always wanting to get up on stage with me, but we don't allow that. It's mainly a privacy issue, but I know there is going to come a day when he's old enough to make his own decisions. If he wants to be a country singer and he shows me he's serious about it, then we'll go from there, but that's definitely not something that I'm encouraging."
Josh made his debut in 2003 and immediately garnered attention with his smooth, rich, deep voice as his first single, 'Long, Black Train,' ascended the charts. Since then he's released three top-selling albums and scored such No. 1 hits as 'Your Man' and 'Would You Go With Me.' Though he loves his life as a country artist, he's not sure he wants his young sons to follow in his footsteps.
"You have to make a lot of sacrifices, and the main thing you have to sacrifice is your privacy," he admits. "It's funny because when I was growing up, my daddy was and still is an insurance agent in our home town. He couldn't go anywhere without somebody recognizing him or needing something from him. My daddy has never been a celebrity, but he was so good at what he did, and was such a great businessman, and he knew how to treat people that when he went out, people wanted to come talk to him. They were drawn to him, and I guess in some ways that prepared me for what I'm doing now. I'll never forget my mama would always jokingly say nobody knew her first name, they always knew her as 'Joe's wife.' So that's kind of how [my wife] Jennifer is a lot of times with me, and I know my boys see that when I go out in public."
As a member of Josh's band, Jennifer does share some of the spotlight with her husband, and makes touring a family affair. "I wouldn't have it any other way," Josh says with a big smile. "Just having them right there on the road with me, gives me a keyboard player and a background vocalist on stage and at the same time it gives me companionship. We have a nanny out on the road, because we have to have somebody looking after them when we do sound check and everything else, but the boys are just free entertainment. It's fun having them out there."
Though life on the road can be hectic, the Turners always make time for family activities and try to provide a sense of normalcy for their two young sons, despite the family's unconventional lifestyle. "We always try to get out and do something different or something fun," Josh says. "A lot of times when we go somewhere where it's really, really cold, it's kind of hard to do that, but normally when the weather is good, we try to get out and go to a zoo or park or even just go out and take a walk. One thing that Hampton loves is aquariums. He also likes anything with tractors or monster trucks."
When the time comes for Hampton to start school, Josh admits there will be changes, but he's not worried about that now. "We'll cross that bridge when we get there," he says. "We're just taking one day at a time. I want him to have that social development too and be able to submit to authority other than his parents."
In addition to the standard version of 'Haywire,' MCA Records is also issuing a deluxe version that will include the music video for 'Why Don't We Just Dance' and behind-the-scenes footage of Josh in the recording studio talking about each song on the album. There will also be two additional new tracks, as well as live versions of two of Josh's most beloved hits.
"We were able to include live concert audio for 'Long Black Train' and 'Your Man,' as well as two previously unreleased songs," says Josh. "'Lets Find A Church' was recorded during the 'Long Black Train' sessions. I wanted it to be on the first record, but we didn't have enough room. It was one of the first songs I wrote when I got my publishing deal. Jennifer and I were engaged, and it was kind of like an anxious-to-get-married song. 'This Kind Of Love' was recorded during the 'Haywire' sessions. We over cut for this record and were lucky enough to keep this song on this record after all."
Josh is proud of the new album and feels it represents where he is in life. "'Haywire'is full of different kinds of love songs. It's definitely country and a little something for everybody," he says. "I feel like the subject matter goes a little deeper about love and relationships."
Releasing shortly before Valentine's Day, the love songs on 'Haywire' are sure to provide a soundtrack for the romantic holiday. How does Josh plan to spend Valentine's Day? "Hopefully, celebrating a No. 1 album," he says, "with Jennifer and everybody else I love."