BLESS THE BROKEN ROAD
By Norman Warwick
Yes, thank you son. Its all coming back to me, I have a copy of that Nitty Gritty Dirt Band album on which the song was first recorded in 1994 , and now I remember how much I liked the song at the time. I thought it sounded familiar when Whispering Bob Harris played it on his show the other night. I wish that a quarter of a century ago I had paid more attention,….taken some notes, perhaps, to protect it against the unreliable, chronologically challenged memory that mocks me today. There is though some compensatory joy whenever I ´re-discover some long forgotten, but much loved song, especially when I can take pleasure in learning, as though for the first time, the stories behind it, that I once used to be able to reel off in conversation for people who cared to listen. Usually nobody did care to listen but I would waffle on anyway.
Sorry, I am waffling ! The truth is that pride can sometimes get in the way. When my son fills me in on details I have forgotten I usually take some pride in the fact that he must have a t least taken some notice of my record collection (he has virtually replicated it, album for album) or must even have read some of my writings. He is invariably as reluctant to admit that as i am to confess i have forgotten most of it- On this occasion I wasn´t prepared to admit that I had never heard of the Hummon´ s own version on his 1995 album All in Good Time and I bluffed a few ´yes, of course´ like phrases as Andrew listed various other subsequent recordings of the song.
I tried not to sound surprised as he told me that since the mid-nineties, many artists have recorded the song with Rascal Flatts‘ version (the one I was raving about) being the highest-charting, becoming a number 1 hit on the Billboard country music charts in 2005 and earning the songwriters a Grammy Award for Best Country Song.
Now, more than fifteen years after his band´s success with the song, Gary LeVox has been speaking to Songfacts in an excellent interview, and I´m excited all over again.
The Songfracts journalist, Dan Macintosh, opened his article by saying ´LeVox has one of the most distinctive voices in all of country music, so whether he’s singing a Rascal Flatts song, or a new gospel music song, that voice stands out. LeVox is at a bit of a crossroads, as he released his first solo EP (One On One, a gospel project) and is working on a solo country album. Much like his favorite Rascal Flatts song, “Fast Cars And Freedom,” Levox is certainly not slowing down.
Rascal Flatts started out hesitantly, coming off like the country music answer to the boy-band trend of the late ’90s. Their image evolved with the quality of their music, though, as light pop songs like “Prayin’ For Daylight” progressed to deeper emotional sentiments like “I Melt” and “Bless The Broken Road.”
Rascal couldn’t have taken these giant steps without LeVox’s immediately recognizable voice. While high and sweet, his vocal instrument is deceptively powerful. Wherever that voice goes – whether within a group or on its own – that power marches with it.
Busy as he is, though, LeVox still found time to talk about his favorite songs, explain why Rascal Flatts split up, and talk about the possibility of a reunion.¨
So, let´s eavesdrop on Dan Macintosh Of Songfacts as he questions LeVox and let me see if I can pick up any facts my son Andrew Warwickpeadia might not know.
You’re now doing music that reflects your Christian faith. Do you feel more comfortable away from the group in doing more spiritual music, or were there other motivations that caused you to start exploring that side of your personality?
We always have put our faith in our music, as with “Bless The Broken Road,” so it’s had that temperature on our music. It’s been a dream of mine to put out a gospel record and make some gospel music, just because I love it and that’s who I am. So, the One On One album was something I always wanted to do.
I think that the best singers come from the gospel world. And I’ve always been firm in my faith. So, it was just awesome to be able to do that.
You know, my new single, “Working On Sunday,” is actually the first single off of my solo country record that’ll come out next year. I’ll be doing all of it. I love country music and I love my gospel music. Now that my gospel music EP is out and done, I’m doing a country record. “Working On Sunday” is the first single off of that, and I just did it on The Opry the other night. The response was incredible. I’m excited about it.
What can you tell me about “Working On Sunday”? Did you have a part in writing that one?
You know, I did. I wrote it with Cledus T. Judd, Wendell Mobley and Tony Martin. It was a song that we wrote probably five years ago. I never wanted to pitch it because I loved that idea. I loved that melody. Those songs with that cadence, like in the chorus, kind of those adult lullaby kind of [sings the song’s melody, play clip below to hear it] that kind of repeats itself, those seem to be the ones that always seem to hit.
I love the premise of a guy going through a relationship and his girl’s not calling him back and he’s like, “Look, I know it’s been a while, but I don’t think I can make it until Monday if you don’t call me back.”
And you know what’s crazy too, man, is now that the song’s been out, I’ve been getting a ton of people who have taken pictures and put them in these collages with that as their music bed. Bedside visuals of people in the hospital with COVID, soldiers in Afghanistan, firefighters. People are taking it as their prayer. “Look, I know how you feel about working on Sundays. I need a miracle in a bad way. I don’t think I can wait. I don’t think I can make it till Monday. So how do you feel about working on Sunday?”
So, everybody’s just kind of taking it as their own, and it’s really been powerful.
Of the hits you wrote for Rascal Flatts, which do you connect with the most?
Probably “Fast Cars And Freedom.” And “Changed.” That was actually written about myself, my wife, my daughter and my mom. We all got baptized together. I wrote it with Neil Thrasher, and at that time, Neil’s daughter had gotten baptized, so that all came from that.I wrote a song called “Summer Nights” that was part of where I was at that point in my life. “I Melt,” we were newly married at that point
.You live with part of every song, but I connect most with Fast Cars And Freedom. Because I was young, newly married. I just became a new dad. The story of that song was how I didn’t know what was going on in life. I was a new artist and had just gotten married and just became a dad, so everything was new. It was like, “Wow, I’m an adult now! I sure want back to when it was just about fast cars.'”
One of your biggest songs is actually a cover, “Life Is A Highway,” which I think you guys did a great version of. That introduced you to a whole new audience, with the feature film and everything.
Yeah, it really did. You know, John Lasseter, the head of Pixar at the time, we were such good friends with John and he told us about this movie Cars that he was doing. We were, like, “Well, that sounds weird. So, the cars are gonna talk?”
And he was, like, “Yeah.”
“Toy Story worked, so you know what you’re doing, John.”
So he came to a show, and afterward he told us about it and showed us some drawings and stuff. We were, like, “Man, that’s awesome!”
You know, there’s certain songs you just wanna leave alone. You’re, like, “How can you re-do that?” There are staples of music history, and “Life Is A Highway” is one of them with Tom Cochrane. But he was like, “I want you guys to do ‘Life Is A Highway.'” And we were, like, “Wow! Really?”
And you know, that was the first song Dann Huff ever recorded on us. He helped us get our record deal because he was such good friends with our producers at that time.
Dan Macintosh (left) then turned to the subject of the new album due out from Gary LeVox, asking Gary to tell him about and what songs we should particularly look for.
It’s pretty close. There’s a song called “It Never Rains In A Bar.” I love that one. I think this record’s a little more country-er. It’s a little bit different than what I did with Flatts. It’s just kind of my own thing. I love a song called “I Know There’s A God.” The whole title is “I Know There’s A God Because There’s A You.”
This led Dan Macintosh to ask what life is like as a solo artist without the security of being a part of a group.
It feels really natural. Being the frontman for Rascal Flatts for 20 years, that was my job. I knew what my position was. We all knew what our lanes were. It was almost like being a solo artist at times.
It was a transition I wasn’t expecting. I didn’t think Joe Don would want to retire and leave. You gotta play the hand you’re dealt sometimes. You just gotta believe that God’s timing is perfect.
So here we are, off and running. The tour kicks off in two weeks (October 14, 2021), so I’m excited and ready to go.
As far as the band’s farewell tour, (scheduled but then cancelled due to the pandemic ) is that still something that could happen or is it basically tabled for now?
It’s tabled for now. Now that I’m on my solo career and Jay’s got an independent Christian label here in town that he owns.2 So, they’re doing their thing and I’m doing mine. Who knows what the future holds, but I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. It’s a new season for all of us.
The primary source for this article was written by Dan Macintosh for theexcellent Songfacts service.
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This article was collated by Norman Warwick, a weekly columnist with Lanzarote Information and owner and editor of this daily blog at Sidetracks And Detours. Norman has also been a long serving broadcaster, co-presenting the weekly all across the arts programme on Crescent Community Radio for many years with Steve, and his own show on Sherwood Community Tadio. He has been a regular guest on BBC Radio Manchester, BBC Radio Lancashire, BBC Radio Merseyside and BBC Radio 4.
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