Colt Ford has been a part of some memorable performances over the years, but the singer admits that his appearance as part of the Chattanooga Rising benefit with Brantley Gilbert last month was definitely one for the ages. The two performed “Dirt Road Anthem,” the hit they wrote together for Jason Aldean, and to call it a dramatic moment would be something of an understatement.
“When you start thinking about what happened, the reality of it hit me, as well for Brantley, it was very powerful. The men and women that serve our country that are very important to both of us. My dad was in the service. Some people don’t realize the impact that it makes. You start talking about someone losing their life – that’s somebody’s child, somebody’s brother, somebody’s father, somebody’s husband. There’s a lot of people that are affected by it. I always think of the families, because it’s not just the solider going to war and defending our country. Their families have to deal with this stuff. When Chattanooga came about, I knew Brantley wanted to do something. I had some shows out in California, and he asked me to come. Chattanooga was one of those places we played when we had nothing – no record deal or anything like that, but we had fans. So, it was an easy decision.”
Ford told CMChatLive that he has the utmost respect for Gilbert’s heart and his artistic vision.
“It was a special event. What Brantley is doing as an artist right now is so special. He’s one of the best songwriters I have ever written with. He’s so creative, and always has an interesting twist on things. It was just a magical night.”
Ford released Answer To No One – The Colt Ford Classics, his very first Best-Of compilation on October 23. Though he didn’t have the hit of “Dirt Road” as a recording artist, he says the chart-topping success of the song was a humbling experience.
“I thought about all of the amazing songwriters who never had a number one who are better than me, and deserve it. I thought a lot about those guys and girls. Once again, you realize how incredibly lucky you are.”
He admits that the song was a little bit different.
“Thanks to Jason and Michael Knox for producing it. I don’t think that anyone else in town would have had the balls to do it. He did. He produced it in a way that made it sound like Jason. Then, Benny and Broken Bow had to let go in a way, because he was coming off of ‘Big Green Tractor,’ ‘She’s Country,’ and the duet with Kelly Clarkson. I guarantee not everybody on his team was thinking ‘We’re gonna kill it with this.’ That’s not what everybody was thinking. I was humbled that people care so much. I’ve had soldiers tell me that the song made them want to come back home. I’ve had dozens of families who have told me about bringing their children home, and playing that at their funeral. To think about something being part of their happiest and saddest times, and you wrote it – and it means that much to them, you just think ‘I’d love to be on the charts bad. I’d love to have a hit single, but I must be doing something right.’”
Whether it be at the Chattanooga performance with Gilbert, a benefit concert, or his own charity golf tournament, the Georgia native says that giving back isn’t just something that feels good – it’s also expected.
“I look at it very simply. I was raised that way by my mom and dad – to always give back. They always did. My dad will be 80 on October 25, and every morning at 4:30, he was out the door going to Dunkin’ Donuts to pick up the day old donuts that they were just going to throw away, and takes them to the homeless shelters, as well as food from the grocery stores. He doesn’t have any money himself, but that’s what he does. The way I look at it is if you are having some success, and you’re not giving back – you’re flat out losing in life. I don’t care who you are. If you’re successful, and have the opportunity to give back, that’s the definition of a loser in my mind.”
That working man mentality is something that has helped make Ford a fan favorite over the years.
“I don’t think I’ve changed. That’s why I call the company Average Joe’s. That’s what I am. We don’t have a fancy big-ass office. We’re sitting in a back room with mismatched chairs. That’s not what we’re here on this earth for. I want to continue to be that.”
Talk any amount of time with Ford, and you will find that media training is something he doesn’t really worry about. He simply is who he is – and it works.
“Don’t get me wrong. Some people need it. I just don’t think I do. I know how to talk, and I know how to act. I’ve got Claire and Kristen here at the label now, and I was very blessed to have worked with Ebie McFarland. She was starting her own company, and working with me was probably a little dangerous for her. But, she believed in me. She spent a lot of time working with me. She helped me out a lot along the way.”
With Answer To No One out, what’s next for Ford? He says that regardless of which path he goes down, it’s going to be emotionally driven.
“There’s things musically that I’d like to try that I probably will at some point. Whether I let somebody hear it or not, I don’t know. Something like ‘She’s Got A Way’ by Billy Joel, that I think people would be shocked by. I tear up by old movies, little things. When I think about people I love or that have been good to me, I have a hard time holding it together.”
He says that he is still driven by the love and support of a childhood friend that is no longer with us.
“My best friend David, that I talk about in ‘Back,’ he grew up in a wheelchair. I’d give a million bucks if he was still here. I’d gladly push him. If we played hide and seek, we pushed him, or baseball in the front yard – we’d play till he hit it, and then we’d roll his ass to first base. He was one of our friends, and wasn’t supposed to live to 18 years old. He died when he was 30, and I knew him my whole life. He thought I was the greatest thing since white bread. I have no idea why. I was certainly not worthy of the pedestal he put me on, but everything I did – he thought was great. I’d give anything if he could see all this now. My whole life, I never knew his middle name. He was just David. At the funeral home the night before we buried him, I found out his middle name was Reynolds – David Reynolds McGill. I had a son a month away from being born, and his name is Reynolds.”
Colt Ford – proof that good guys do finish first!
Pick Up Answer to No One – The Colt Ford Classics on iTunes.