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Jason Byrd talks about ‘Better Life,’ his duet with George Jones

Country artist Jason Byrd chatted with Digital Journal’s Markos Papadatos about “Better Life,” his duet with country king George Jones.

Jason Byrd
Jason Byrd. Photo Courtesy of 2911 Media
Jason Byrd. Photo Courtesy of 2911 Media

Country artist Jason Byrd chatted with Digital Journal’s Markos Papadatos about “Better Life,” his duet with country king George Jones.

“Better Life” earned a positive review from Digital Journal. “Jason Byrd really tugs at the heart on the moving traditional country ballad ‘Better Life,’ and the inclusion of country king George Jones helps elevate it to a higher level. The listener can recall Joe Nichols, and this duet ballad is sensational,” this journalist commented.

Tell us about your relationship with George Jones, how did it start and how has it impacted your life and career?

I met George and Nancy through a friend of mine at country radio named Bill Kelly. George was in town with Vern Gosdin and Conway Twitty. I had just finished up a four-song demo and Bill ran into Nancy backstage. After telling her about me, she told Bill that she would like to hear it and asked him to mail her a copy.

She called me one night, after a few weeks had passed, and said that she and George had listened to my demo and were interested in meeting with me to discuss how they could help me move my career forward. I made the trip to Nashville a couple of weeks later and we all hit it off.

From that day, we hit the ground running. Nancy eventually became my manager and George my mentor. As the years passed, we became great friends and made a lot of memories together. George and Nancy opened so many doors for me that I would not have been able to do on my own. I’ve had the opportunity to do things that I never would have imagined possible thanks to them.

What is the best piece of advice George Jones has given you that you want to share?

George was always mentoring me and giving me advice when he saw that I could benefit from it. He taught me how to sing at my best. One thing he always drove home was that if you want to be a star, you have to always look like one. He believed in me and put a lot of effort into helping guide me through this crazy business.

When things were moving slow or not working like we had hoped, he would reassure me and tell me to keep my head up. He didn’t let me get down on myself and always told me “Son, you’re three minutes away from being a millionaire!”

“Better Life” certainly tugs at the heartstrings. What is the story/inspiration behind the song?

I originally got the idea for the song while attending my grandfather’s funeral. The preacher told a story about the markings on a tombstone and the importance that they had. He said that between the dates is a line that is very important because that is why we were all there. The line is who my grandfather was. That sermon stuck with me and a couple of years later, the song kind of wrote itself.

Your music delivers a classic country sound that we don’t hear very often anymore. Who are some of your country music heroes and how do you plan to stay true to these roots within your music?

My influences in country music run deep. I have always admired the legends like George, Merle, Waylon and, Johnny. Later in life, I learned from artists like Randy Travis, Kieth Whitley, Alan Jackson, Mark Chestnutt, Garth Brooks and, George Strait, just to name a few.

Each of these greats were faced with the same challenges, when their careers began, that traditional country artists face today. It’s definitely challenging in today’s environment to find radio success as a traditional artist. However, I believe that it can be done. All I can do is try my hardest and put out music that I feel is representative of the music I love and helps keep traditional country music alive.

Tell us about your own family, how do you resonate personally with “Better Life?”

I have a great family that is very supportive of me and keeps me grounded. My family is the most important thing in my life. I am married to my wife Lauren and have two children (Courtney and Mason).

“Better Life” is a very personal song to me. I strive every day to make the line between the dates as long and memorable as possible and be someone that my family and friends can be proud of. I’m not ready for the second date to be filled in yet but, I know that when that day comes, a Better Life is waiting for me.

What do you want listeners to take away after listening to “Better Life?”

“Better Life” is a song with a storyline that we will all face during our lives. Some may find it to be too sad while others find it therapeutic. Life is not always happy and fun. But, music plays a big role in helping people through some of the toughest times of their lives. I believe that this song can do just that.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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