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article imageCountry legend John Anderson struck gold in 2015 Special

By Adrian Peel     Dec 17, 2015 in Music
This year, one of the finest vocalists of the last 40 years - in any genre - put out his first studio album in nearly a decade and, as one would hope, it's a worthy addition to his impressive back catalogue. He filled Digital Journal in on the details.
In May, Goldmine, released via the artist's own company, Bayou Boys Music Group, peaked at a very respectable - certainly in this day and age - 36 on the American Country Chart. The album has been lauded by fans and critics as something of a return to form and was recently included in Rolling Stone's 40 Best Country Albums of 2015.
How does the 61-year-old Florida native, deservedly inducted into the Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 2014, feel about the favourable reaction to his new music? "Well it's always a pleasant surprise when the records start receiving good praise," he replies.
"I didn't expect it. It had been nine years since we released a studio album and to be honest, that release was very insignificant. I mean we had a good record, but the record company at the time was very dysfunctional here in Nashville and we shouldn't even have put it out...
"It took a little while to get over that, just kinda regroup and get things together, and since then we've formed our own record label so we've got nobody to blame but ourselves."
As a way of building on the positive energy generated by Goldmine, I wondered whether the owner of one of country music's most distinctive voices had already started thinking about a follow-up. "It's strange you'd ask... I've got another project that I'm fixin' to go finish, been working on it for a while, and it's called John Anderson Solo.
"It's gonna be just me and a guitar and several songs I've written. It's a very open, empty kind of performance, but I find that the songs really get to stand out. A lot of my fans who've followed us through the years seem to really like that approach.
"We've been doing some acoustic shows lately and they've gone over so well that I think I'm gonna do a whole album of just me and the guitar... It should be out during 2016, but probably later in the year as we still have a lot of life left on this Goldmine record."
John Anderson
John Anderson
Jim Shea
Reflecting on the title, the award-winning singer/songwriter, who has had 20 Top 10 hits and five number ones during his 40-year career, states, "We titled it after a song on the album that Josh Turner and I wrote...
"We had a few different titles in mind but when 'Goldmine' came up, friends of mine and people whose opinions I value, said, 'You might call it 'Goldmine' just because it seems to be a treasure of country music.' With that in mind I thought, 'It won't hurt' and it's worked out well for us."
Unsurprisingly for such a prolific writer, the former roofer (he worked on The Grand Ole Opry, though not in his current capacity, back in the early 1970s) wrote or co-wrote all but one of the album's 13 tracks. The sole exception is track two, the uptempo "Magic Mama," penned by the great Merle Haggard.
"Merle called me one afternoon and said, 'I'm writing this song and the more I write it, the more it sounds like you,' recalls John, revealing that the tune was written especially for him. "I said, 'Wow, I'm impressed you would even think about me.' I said, 'You just finish it and I'll do it!' I'm so glad I said that because it's a wonderful song and Merle, to me, is the King."
"I've got a couple of favourites," he continues, discussing other standout moments on the new LP. "I like 'Song the Mountain Sings' that I wrote with Buddy Cannon. I also like 'On and On and On' that I wrote with Jimmy Fortune - that's a fine song. The single that's out now, 'Don't Forget to Thank the Lord,' is one I'm proud of... We have a lot of good music and singles still yet to come from the Goldmine CD."
I expressed my admiration for "I Work a Lot Better" (the first single, released in May) and "Back Home," a deeply moving tale about a marine turning up at a hospital one night to collect his dying mother (though all is not quite as it seems). "Ah, well bless your heart. I love 'Back Home' too..."
The articles and reports I'd read while preparing for this interview all stated how happy John Anderson was with his new-found freedom, i.e. not being tied to a label. "Oh for me it's about the only way to go these days...
"Even when I was a young man I wasn't very good at being told what to do, especially with the music. In fact if they told me one way to do a song, I would go in and change it just for spite... So having my own label and being able to do the songs we want to do, without having to ask someone else if it's okay, is a wonderful feeling."
One of John Anderson's most popular songs from yesteryear is "Straight Tequila Night" (others include "Wild and Blue," "1959," "Seminole Wind," "Money in the Bank" and "Swingin'") and I concluded by asking the constantly touring star, a long-time resident of Smithville, Tennessee, whether he had a preferred brand of Mexico's most famous alcoholic tipple.
"Actually, I pretty much swore off tequila and moonshine a few years back," he says with a chuckle, clearly a little surprised at my line of questioning. "When I did drink it, I used to drink that Jose (Cuervo) pretty good."
Goldmine is out now and can be purchased from iTunes.
For more information on John Anderson, visit his official website.
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