DIARY - 16 JUNE 2009 - BILLY RAY CYRUS
RAY CYRUS OR BILLY B BAD
in Texas near the D.F.W/ among the shrubs and patios and BBQs/ was born
a suburban boy named Billy B Bad/ had a white bread mama and a rock '
n roll dad/ didn't have much soul or country roots/ but he looked cute
in his cowboy suit." - Billy B Bad - Bobby Braddock.
Ray Cyrus's life could have been a Hollyweird classic.
The grandson of a Kentucky senator soared to fame on the strength
of a refried dance ditty penned by a Vietnam veteran.
It shot him to chart tops in 1992 and made him one of the most pilloried
performers in the long history of the genre.
There was a plethora of parodies of Achy Breaky Heart, a brace
of cartoon pastiches in shows diverse as South Park & The Simpsons
and elitist sneers from pop puppets.
hit was a huge earner for Cyrus and war weary writer Don Van Tress but
it also became the albatross that almost choked the dancing dude.
The backlash persuaded Billy Ray to cure the Cyrus virus - he became an
actor and sired the most successful teenybopper belle of the new millennia.
Ray is laughing all his way to the bank - with a little hell from Disney
diva daughter Miley.
Cyrus, 47, played GP Dr. Clint Cassidy in long running TV series Doc
in his decade long hiatus from charts but is back in the music and movie
saddle with a vengeance.
"I went and auditioned for film director David Lynch's Mulholland
Drive," Cyrus recalled.
"They hired me, and a few weeks later, I went and auditioned for
Doc. Pretty soon, I had 88 episodes and four years of experience
as a full-time actor. It just prepared me for the next bridge that was
coming called Hannah Montana.
When Cyrus starred in Doc from 2001-04, he unsuccessfully tried
to have the show's production moved from Canada to Tennessee.
But he again relocated his family in 2006 to Los Angeles to star with
Miley in Disney TV series, Hannah Montana.
sounds like everyone on the radio/ he's building up his biceps for his
video/ the people at the label said we like to start em young/ we know
you're 23 but we'll say you're 21/ they played him some Strait, they played
him some Jones/ now he's got that country music down in his bones."
- Billy B Bad - Bobby Braddock
now he has returned to his rural roots in Miley movie Hannah
Montana, filmed in Tennessee, and also on albums cut to expand
his music career.
Veteran hit songwriter Bobby Braddock - the producer behind the
success of Blake Shelton (beau of Texan star Miranda Lambert) -
wrote the vitriolic Cyrus parody Billy B Bad.
Texan born legend George Jones cut it on his 1996 disc I Lived
To Tell It All that was accompanied by a biography of the Possum.
The late Waylon Jennings also took aim at Cyrus on his song Living
Legends Are A Dying Breed.
once criticised for writing and recording beyond the once narrow
confines of the genre, is now being lauded for introducing Miley
Cyrus to country music.
irony the chart topping Hannah Montana movie soundtrack has scored
flack for being listed as a country album.
I haven't heard it so I can't comment.
But the cast - Rascal Flatts, Taylor Swift, Billy Ray and Miley - would
suggest a pop country format.
Now in a recent interview by Cyrus to promote 11th album Back To Tennessee
he has revealed the Waylon-Miley mentoring.
Not quite the same influence Waylon and singing spouse Jessi Colter had
on their son Shooter who played Jennings in the Johnny Cash movie Walk
Tritt's got all the talent/ least it seems that way to me/ he's a little
brash and cocky/ but he's got a right to be/ now Billy Ray keeps right
on dancing/ outta tune and outta time/he drives Bubbas up the wall/and
girls out of their minds." - Living Legends Are A Dying Breed
Pt 2 - Waylon Jennings
is Cyrus's story to celebrate his performance with less famous son Trace
in the video of his song Somebody Said A Prayer on Nu Country TV.
Cyrus recalled first meeting with Jennings, who died at 64 on February
13, 2002, at Nashville radio station WKDF-FM with radio personality Carl
No mention was made of Waylon song Living Legends that name checked
a vast cast including Cyrus, Tritt, Clint Black, Garth Brooks, Madonna,
Tanya Tucker, Dolly Parton and fellow Highwaymen, Shotgun Willie, Johnny
Cash and Kris Kristofferson.
"Carl P. was also a friend of mine," Cyrus revealed.
"Carl P. felt that Waylon and I had a lot in common. He wanted to
get us together, so we met live on Carl P.'s radio show one morning. From
that moment on, we just really became very. I want to say kind of like
a brother. There was a feeling about Waylon that was sort of like a best
friend, but there was more. I really loved him and, as a matter of fact,
we left that radio station and went to his house, and he put on a pot
of coffee. We sat there by Buddy Holly's motorcycle and drank coffee and
just talked for hours and laughed a lot. I remember that laughter and
the stories he would tell. Just one thing led to another."
Not just bizarre buddies but also an extraneous spark.
"A few days later, he came out to my house," Cyrus added.
"I remember Miley sitting beside him. Waylon showed her the chords
to Good Hearted Woman, and she had her little guitar out there.
I look at Miley now, and I think about the influences that she's been
around. You can't sit and talk to Waylon and have him teach you the chords
to Good Hearted Woman and some of that not rub off on you in some
Cyrus performed Amazing Grace acoustic at Waylon's memorial service
at the famed Ryman with a little help from Travis Tritt and Kristofferson.
cars and diamond rings, I seen all kinds of shiny things/ I should be
feeling like a king, but lord I don't/ great big towns, so full of users,
make a million, still a loser/ some may bet on you to win, most hope you
won't/ I'm on the road now, I know just what I need/ to find my way back
to Tennessee." - Back To Tennessee - Billy Ray Cyrus
Ray Cyrus with Miley
also recalls the late country and rockabilly icon Carl Perkins taking
Miley out hunting rabbits.
"I feel the same way about Carl Perkins," Cyrus recalled.
"Carl came out, and he and I walked with Miley on the property
as he was letting his rabbit dogs run. Neither one of us were hunters.
We didn't carry guns, but he just liked to hear his dogs chase rabbits.
At one point he looked at Miley - and the dogs were barking and going
through the field - and he said, 'Now, honey, I want you to always
remember this: Me and your daddy ain't out here to kill a rabbit.
It ain't about that. It's about the chase.' And for Miley, it's art
imitating life. Now she's sings this song that's all about the climb.
The Climb is the chase. It's exactly what Carl Perkins was
talking about. It's not about necessarily arriving at a place, it's
about what it was like getting there. What did you have to do to get
to that spot?
many broken promises/ too many trail of tears/ too many times you were
left cold/ for so many years." - Trail Of Tears - Billy Ray Cyrus
But it wasn't
Waylon or Carl who inspired Cyrus's artistic rebirth with the bluegrass
tune Trail Of Tears - title track of his 1996 acoustic album that
he produced with his guitarist Terry Shelton.
Shelton, leader of Cyrus's road band Sly Dog since 1987, collaborated
with the singer as a writer and arranger from his debut disc Some Gave
Cyrus wrote Trail of Tears about the plight of a displaced Indian
nation, written from the soul of the artist.
"It's the saga of the Native American Cherokee and their forced march
and relocation from Georgia to Oklahoma in 1838, under terms of a congressional
"Indian Removal Act," CMT Nashville Skyline columnist and author
Chet Flippo wrote.
"An estimated 4,000 people died in the Army-driven Trail of Tears
march, which was so termed in a direct translation from the Cherokee -
The Trail Where They Cried ("Nunna daul Tsuny").
The single Trail of Tears peaked at #69 and was a salient signpost
to Cyrus and his creative challenges in the post achy era.
SAID A PRAYER
a single mom raisin up the kids/ little Tommy's seven now and her daughter
Justine just turned ten/ pinching every cent laughing and loving and content/
you would never think a couple years ago she almost let her job, her kids,
her mind, her life go up in smoke/ right there on the edge right before
the fall." - Somebody Said A Prayer - Billy Ray Cyrus.
may have felt the noose of his Achy Breaky Heart albatross
loosen when he cut suicide inspired spiritual song Somebody Said
A Prayer as a single and filmed a video for it.
"It's a powerful, powerful song," Cyrus explained.
"I know of one life it's already saved. I can't go into details,
but I know of one kid that happened to hear the song because my
son Trace was in the video for that song. If that's the only one
it touches, it's good enough for me. That's why I cut the song.
I know it touched my life."
But the song was not a huge radio hit.
"I thought Somebody Said a Prayer was going to be huge,"
see anyway that song wouldn't have gone to No. 1. People at the record
company thought it was going to be the song of the year. I'm hoping the
depth of the album will be realised, because the proof is in the pudding.
That song resonated with the people who heard it, but getting radio stations
to play it was a different story.
Cyrus's 2007 comeback album, Home At Last, was a hybrid of classic-rock
covers and contemporary country originals.
Back To Tennessee has far more focus despite a duet with Miley on Butterfly,
Fly Away - from the soundtrack of Hannah Montana: the Movie.
The singer has also been moonlighting in a super group Brother Clyde with
former Boy Howdy icon Jeffrey Steele, singer Phil Vassar and John Waite,
once front man for rock band The Babys.
Waite, also a member of Bad English, branched out in recent times to record
a duet with Alison Krauss on historic hit Missing You.
Steele and Tom Hambridge wrote Give it To Somebody for the new
He covered Sheryl Crow song Real Gone and wrote I'm Just as
Country as Country Can Be and the title track.
"You have to remember Back to Tennessee is a song that I wrote
about coming home," Cyrus says.
"Tennessee isn't just a place I live, it's a part of who I am."
AS COUNTRY CAN BE
up on Jones and Tammy Wynette/ blue collar dollars and the sun on my neck/
Nascar and Earnhart, still miss number three/ hey, I'm just as country
as country can be/ wide open spaces fit me like a glove/ still live for
my truck to be covered in mud/
I got hard workin hands, I got boots on my feet." - Country As
Country Can Be - Billy Ray and Nick Cyrus-Casey Beathard.
Country as Country Can Be with hit country songwriter Casey Beathard
and the singer's brother Nick.
"We were sitting around the fire talking about my life and this journey,"
"Did you know I wrote that with my little brother? I've got a brother
named Nick, and he's been around Nashville a lot. He and I were sittin'
up by the fire right before I was gettin' ready to go in the studio and
I'd just came out of Hollyweird to go in there and make this record. And
I was just tellin' him how great it felt to be back in Tennessee and how
much I loved and missed the land and the music. And we were talkin' about
NASCAR. And we were both talkin' about how much we still love Dale Earnhardt.
And my brother looked up and said, "I ain't apologising for it, man.
I'm just as country as country can be." And I snapped my finger and
said, "Country as country can be. I need to write that before I go
to make this record tomorrow." And lo and behold I sat down that
night and got a good start on it. And the next morning I finished it over
coffee. Then the next morning I called Casey Beathard, who wrote Ready,
Set Don't Go with me. So Casey comes over to the house and he puts the
icing on the cake. And I went in and cut it like two days later. It's
really the way Nashville used to be, when artists were absolutely living
what they were singing and singing what they were living. And it developed
in front of society because it was real. And that's what this record,
Back to Tennessee, is. For better or for worse it's my life. And I'm wearing
my emotions on my sleeve. I am Billy Ray Cyrus from Flatwoods, Kentucky
and I am country as country can be. I wanted this album to be all of me,
all of who I am and all that I've been through. And all that I am and
all that I'll be is somewhere within this body of work known as Back
POSTIVE FOR MORE MOVIES - NOT BRANSON
poor old Billy's at the end of the line/ he's over the hill cause he's
pushing 29/ he's not as young and he's not that handsome/ he's just tested
positive for Branson." - Billy B Bad - Bobby Braddock.
has landed a supporting role in Kung-Fu star Jackie Chan's new movie,
The Spy Next Door.
Chan plays a man fighting off secret agents after a kid he's babysitting
accidentally downloads a secret governmental code.
Cyrus says he plays a "cool character" who luckily doesn't
have to do as many stunts as Chan.
"Mostly, when he really needs to be forceful, my guy carries
a gun," Cyrus confessed.
"So I let Jackie do all the high-energy karate chops and stuff.
And then when it's my turn, I just pull out my piece and do my thing."
The Spy Next Door will also star comedian/actor George Lopez,
who plays the bad guy.
The film is currently being shot in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
roles include Bait Shop, Death And Texas, Wish You Were Dead, 18 Wheels
of Justice, Radical Jack, Elvis Has Left The Building and Flying
It's a far cry from his humble career start when was living out of his
car on the banks of the Cumberland River.
It was where his record label took the cover photos for his debut album
Some Gave All.
"Man!" I had on a blue jean jacket on the cover," Cyrus
"It started getting cool, so I just threw that jacket on, and that
became the cover of that album. I remember my car being parked there because
that's where I lived. That's where all my stuff was, so it wasn't like
I had wardrobe. That was my closet. If you look on that album cover, you'll
see old factories and stuff back in the background. They're gone now.
The stadium's there."
Cyrus has bounced back from the oblivion of the character in the Braddock
There but for the grace of acting and his sprint along a trail of tears
he's back in the saddle.
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