Exclusive Interview—It’s no accident that Bucky Covington’s sophomore CD Good Guys was released this week on Sept. 11, a date that Americans everywhere pause to remember and honor the thousands of innocents—including brave fire fighters, police and other first responders—who were lost on that tragic day in 2001. But Bucky’s appreciation goes deeper than just releasing his new album on 9/11; he also named the record in honor of the courageous fire fighters he supports through the International Association of Fire Fighters Charitable Foundation, Help The Good Guys. Proceeds from first-week sales will go to support the cause and fire fighters who put their lives on the line to keep the rest of us safe. And, if there is any justice, those sales should be substantial indeed, because Good Guys is an excellent CD. Building on earlier hits “A Different World,” “It’s Good To Be Us” and “I’ll Walk,” Covington has written and found an extremely eclectic mix of tunes, featuring some of the best writers in Nashville, as well as a guest appearance by Shooter Jennings on “Drinking Side Of Country.” And he absolutely nails the classic Lionel Richie tune, “Sail On.” Before the CD came out, the affable Covington took some time in the studio to chat with Nashville.com about the new music, his involvement with fire fighters and more. Here’s some of what he had to say.
Nash: Congrats on the record. You should be proud of it. And I love “Drinkin’ Side of Country,” the tune you did with Shooter, especially the chorus. You guys sound great together, and the way your voices go back and forth is there is just a cool arrangement.
Bucky: Man, thank you. You know something, I’m glad you brought that up. Mark Miller of Sawyer Brown produced my first album and damn near all of this one. But on “Drinkin’ Side of Country,” I went ahead and grabbed the ropes. And I’ll tell you one of the biggest reasons why. Once Shooter agreed to come in with me, I was trying to get everybody on the same date. I called Shooter about a particular date and told him, “I’m good, you’re good, but the producer can’t make it.” And in true Shooter Jennings fashion, he said, “Do you really need somebody in there to tell you what to do?” (big laugh) I said, “Come in that date; we’re doing it.” And it was the best decision I ever made, because the chorus used to be something completely different. (He sings) We rode . . . on down the highway. And it aggravated me because I loved the verses, and we were rockin’ and rollin’, and we’d get to the chorus and it didn’t pop. But after we got in the studio and Shooter got on it, we ended up changing it. (He sings again . . . with the call and response type arrangement on the record).
Nash: That section may be the highlight of the whole album for me. Really excellent. I love Mark, but I’m glad he wasn’t there that day!
Bucky: (laughs) Thank you, man. Thank you so much. We had a ball doing it.
I met Shooter about six years ago on his birthday. We hung out in Los Angeles. And that’s one of my favorite songs on the album, too. And Shooter’s somebody who says what’s on his mind and has a heart bigger than most anybody I know. But I was a fan of his music first. And one of the best moments I’ve had in Nashville to date was sitting in the studio and producing Shooter Jennings on a song that I wrote. I wrote it with my twin brother Rocky and my best friend from back home, Ducky Medlock.
Nash: Bucky, Rocky and Ducky. There’s a joke in there somewhere. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the old song, “The Name Game,” but there could be some problems if you tried it . . . at least for you and Ducky.
Bucky: (big laugh) It was the only time I was allowed to cuss when I was a kid, doing “The Name Game” with my name.
Nash: Let’s totally shift gears to “I Wanna Be That Feeling,” really a gorgeous tune. How many times in your life have you been someone’s feeling?
Bucky: You know, that’s a great question. And I gotta say, years ago, I don’t know if I woulda got that, you know? But where I am in my life now, I’ve got a wonderful fiancée, and I love her to death.
Nash: Is there a date?
Bucky: We don’t have a date. It’s wide open. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. (chuckles) But if it came down to it, we’d go down and get married tomorrow. She’s the light of my life, without a doubt. And she makes want to be that feeling.
Nash: Another of my favorites is “Only Got So Much Time.” And I love the opening lines about life’s too short to drink cheap wine, God don’t like you to waste sunshine. Is that sort of your philosophy of life?
Bucky: Without a doubt, man. I love that song. I’m glad you brought that up. When you get done hearing that song, you feel so positive about everything. There are so many great lines in it, of course I’ve been off for two years going through a bunch of absolute record label crap. But one of my favorite lines in the song for those crappy, crappy times is sit by the ocean and pretend that you own it. Anybody can do that, and that is the coolest line in there to me. But every time after I hear that song, I feel like I want to go do something good, you know?
Nash: It sort of makes you think about “bucket list” type things. Do you have anything you want to do before time runs out?
Bucky: I do. I have not been to Hawaii yet, and I have not skydived. SCUBA diving, I don’t care to do. There’s things down there . . . if I’m falling out of a plane, there’s only one thing that’s gonna happen. Well, one of two things. I’m either going to come down and hit the ground, or I’m just going to float down and hit the ground. But in the ocean, your oxygen tank can go out. A freakin’ shark can bite you. Too many things can go wrong under the sea.
Nash: Have you done any regional versions of this song? I noticed the Steelers are mentioned. Have you done a version for the Titans or any other teams?
Bucky: I gotta be honest with you. When it was written, it was the Steelers. We had planned to go with regional versions of the song was a single, but I’m not sure it’s going to be a single. So we didn’t do one for the Titans.
Nash: Another of my favorites is “Mama Must Be Prayin’” and I’m wondering how many times in your life you’ve been doing things when you thought, “Well, if she’s not praying, she probably should be”?
Bucky: That’s my mom without a doubt. I did that song because that is my mom. I’ve never broken a bone in my body—knock on wood—and I’ve done some pretty stupid things. But when I do something and I’m almost trying to get in trouble, for some odd reason, it’ll fall through. My mom’s a very religious lady, and she’s heavy on the prayers. So I think what really keeps me out of trouble is Mama. I think the reason I am who I am today is because of Mama’s prayers. Somebody’s lookin’ out for me.
Nash: Are you a praying guy yourself?
Bucky: I am. Now I don’t go to church every Sunday.
Nash: If you had to pick out just two songs from this record—one a pedal to the metal rocker and one a bit more thought-provoking or introspective—what would they be?
Bucky: I love the song “I’m Alright.” And the way we recorded it, it sounds like I’m just hammered, and we just captured it. Now when it comes to a rockin’ tune, “Mama Must Be Prayin’” of course is a very electric song. But I’m a spokesman for Help The Good Guys, and we raise awareness and immediate financial relief for fire fighters who have been injured on duty, and their families. If you go to helpthegoodguys.com and order the album, there are two bonus tracks on the album, and proceeds will go to Help The Good Guys. You get “Evil Knievel,” which is an absolute rockin’ song. And then a song called “Ole Kentuck,” which is a very rockin’ song. We’ve actually got a video of it on YouTube. Very amateur, but it’s one of my favorite videos I’ve done. And it’s Bucky.
Nash: Was there a specific incident that prompted you to get involved with fire fighters?
Bucky: There really is. We got involved about a year ago. And I really wanted an organization where I could be a part of something. Country music does a lot of charities, and I’d go get up onstage and sing my songs and get on my bus and be on my way. And I helped somebody, but I don’t know what, why or how. The name of the organization was on my set list, that was all I knew about it. But I wanted to be a part of something.
Sort of like Pamela Anderson. When you hear the name Pamela Anderson, you think: PETA.
Nash: Well, among other things.
Bucky: (laughs) True. You don’t think just PETA. But I wanted to be a part of something. And I knew a guy who knew a guy connected with fire fighters, and the first thing I went to was down in Birmingham, Alabama. This fire fighter walks into a building and the ceiling collapses and burns up 50 percent of his body, from the waist down. So this guy’s a carpenter and he’s on the volunteer fire department. So he can’t work, and his wife has to nurse him ‘cause he can’t move. Then they can’t pay the mortgage, and there was nobody to turn to. And they had kids who were about to change schools, and everybody’s life was about to change. Because he made the right decision. And that shouldn’t happen in this country. He ought to be rewarded and at least hold onto what you got. So we got involved and went down to Birmingham and did a Bowling With Bucky, then I did a live show and we raised over $14,000 for him and his family. And that felt good. So now I go to fire fighter conventions and do all kinds of things for fire houses and that kind of stuff. So I’m in it pretty deep now. And fire fighters are wonderful guys. I’m absolutely loving the fit and it’s a great organization to be a part of.
Nash: I know you’re getting “Drinkin’ Side of Country” out to radio. What’s the early response been?
Bucky: Absolutely through the roof. We’re getting a bunch of ads and it feels great, especially since I was so involved in all of it.
Nash: Good luck with it.
Bucky: Thanks, man. I enjoyed it.