Sunday, January 30, 2011


This week, Joe Nichols released his first Greatest Hits collection. In honor of that, I spoke with him at his record label office in Nashville. Joe had just returned from singing the halftime show at the AFC Championship in Pittsburgh, and was about to take a vacation in Cancun. He was relaxed and very happy, as one can see in this interview.

What comes to mind when you see a Greatest Hits record: I look at that list of songs, and think about each song, each memory I have during the recording process, what each song means, and its really cool, I'm very proud of what we've accomplished and proud the fans have given me a chance to keep delivering songs to them all these years, it's been a roller coaster ride, ups and downs, but it's ended up in this first chapter, and I think it's a good way to close this first little book.

What did you expect your career to be like in 2002? I didn't know what to expect, I was just wide-eyed and overwhelmed, amazed at the opportunities, meeting my heros like Merle Haggard and George Jones, hearing they approved of what I do, it was priceless to me. That first year was OMG moments. To have songs go to #1 was amazing, it was what I always hoped I'd achieved and didn't think I'd accomplish.

Your album covers have changed over the years. The first four, you were looking very serious. But you're actually laughing in this new album cover. Talk about that: I look at the progression and it's not just photos, but if you look at my life personally it's probably a mirror image of how I've gone through life. It's no coincidence of the album covers, some were dark, some were guarded, and some felt cold, but Old Things New was first stone-faced, but then they changed the album cover. As my mind gets better, as my spiritual life gets happier, it shows in the pictures we take and the music we make, and with the Greatest Hits, that's probably the happiest pictures you'll see of me! (laughs)

Let's take about the current single, "The Shape I'm In." It's included on the Greatest Hits, and you just released a video for it that involves the soldiers. Why? One of the things that happened to me when I visited Iraq, my appreciation for them increased 20-fold. You don't have a lot of admirable people today. But these military folks I met in Iraq and Kuwait, that's whow I want my children to be. I want them to be disciplined, apprciative, and proud, to serve a greater purpose than themselves. So when I went to Iraq, this video made more sense. The song is about a break-up, but we wanted the video to be broader, about the guys who come back from overseas, that are missing a limb, those guys can overcome tremendous adversity and hold their heads up. That's bravery and courage.

As part of this you're working with The Boot Campaign. Explain that: Marcus Luttrell is a true American hero. The Boot Campaign is in Texas where they take celebrities to pose for pictures in military boots, to show we're walking in their shoes, to say thank you, so The Boot Campaign hooked us up with Marcus Luttell and he had to be in this video.

You're just back from Pittsburgh, where you sang at the AFC Championship. Have you warmed up yet? (Laughs) It took a while to get over that stinging sensation after the numbness. That was a cold game, I think it was 6 degrees, I've rarely played a show that cold. But it was a great game! All the things you want in a great game, but that cold bites you to the bone.

So who are you rooting for? I've always been a Tennessee Titans fan and Dallas Cowboys fan, those are my teams now, but Pittsburgh is a great town, and I enjoyed being there, so Go Steelers this year.

Have you ever been to a Super Bowl? I got to play the Super Bowl a few years ago when it was the Patriots & Giants in Phoenix. I didn't have a dog in the fight, but I had two tickets and I had a great time. My wife isn't much of a football fan, but she enjoyed it.

Did you meet any of the Steelers? No, they invited me to meet them, but it was way too cold.

So there aren't any new songs on the Greatest Hits, so what's next for you musically? We're in the studio right now working on our next record, and it'll be out in July. I don't want to say too much because it's not set in stone, but very excited about the first single, gonna be some tempo, some fun, some springtime fun, gonna be good.