DIARY - 12 MAY 2004 - BILLY CURRINTON FEATURE
AND BAYWATCH BABE
country singer and heart-throb Billy Currington received plenty of
decent and indecent exposure for his new single I Got A Feelin.'
Baywatch babe Gena Lee Nolin, a former real life romantic interest
for Currington plays his character's lover in the hit video.
But Gena doesn't perform with as much passion as on a Paris Hilton
style video with her estranged husband Greg Fahlman.
is being hawked on the net by one of Greg's spurned spouses for a
< Gena Lee Nolin
day belle for Nashville Predators hockey star Cale Hulse, frocks up in
more modest clobber in the video for Currington's self titled debut disc
Currington grew up in Rincon - a small town 30 miles south of Savannah
was at a friend's church that Currington got his first chance to
sing in public - and to be appreciated for it.
The pastor of the church was so impressed with Billy's performing
ability that he drove him to Nashville to audition for a singing
job at now defunct Opryland amusement park.
Currington, then at high school, didn't make the cut, but he did
keep the dream of being a performer.
after he had finished high school, Currington moved to Nashville. He stayed
there for eight months before retreating to home. He came back about six
months later, and this time he stayed on.
"I played in several different clubs around Nashville with a band,"
"I always put a band together. Then, when I started writing songs
for a living, when I got my publishing deal, I started doing songwriter
nights with just an acoustic guitar, which was something new to me. At
the same time that I got my publishing deal, I also started doing demos."
first publishing contract was with Major Bob Music, the company that gave
Garth Brooks his songwriting start.
"I've done demos for several songs that have been cut but which have
never been singles," Currington recalled.
"I did two that George Strait recorded. Marty Raybon of Shenandoah
cut one. There was one that I wrote myself that Tracy Byrd cut. It was
my first cut, called Crazy Every Time.
The song appears on Byrd's Ten Rounds album. Just here lately,
Kenny Rogers recorded a song I demoed about five years ago, Home Depot
Singing demos did more for Currington than provide him an income. It also
taught him lessons in songwriting and vocal styling.
"You learn so many different people's melodies," he says, "and
you actually get to practice singing melodies you never sang before. So
it opens you up to new things, new ideas."
One of the significant figures Currington encountered as he threaded his
way through the Music Row labyrinth was Frank Dycus, the writer of such
hits as Unwound, Down And Out, Marina Del Ray and I Don't Need Your Rockin'
"Frank ended up becoming a roommate of mine," Currington says.
"Me and him and another guy, Mike Taliaferro, who helps manage Tracy
Byrd, became roommates in this big old house, bigger than anything we
needed. We lived together for about two years. Frank is one of the smartest
guys I've ever met, not only as a songwriter but as an all-around human
being. My granddaddy taught me how to fish as a kid, but Frank Dycus taught
me how to really fish - to go out and catch the big ones."
RCA PASSED OVER
For a while,
it looked like Currington might end up on one of the RCA labels.
"RCA Label Group chairman Joe Galante gave me my first shot at a
record contract," Billy said.
"He gave me enough money to go cut three songs, and I did that. And
he gave me money to do a showcase. Eventually, after all that was done,
he passed on the situation. He decided not to give me a full record deal
and let me go on my own. During that time - it took six months or so to
go through that whole process - I met so many important people. He never
treated me like he didn't like it or anything. He just said it wasn't
Fortunately, Currington had by this time made another label connection.
It came about through songwriter and producer Carson Chamberlain.
"Carson and I met because he had put a hold on a song of mine for
Mark Wills, who he was producing at the time. I happened to run into him
at a local restaurant, and I said, 'Hey, man, I want to thank you for
putting that song on hold, and I'm glad you liked it.'
We talked about writing together one day, and we did. We wrote some of
the songs that ended up on this record. But those songs ended up on demos
first, and those demos were taken to Mercury Records chief Luke Lewis,
who liked what he heard."
Chamberlain got the job of producing Currington's first album, and he
co-wrote six of its songs.
BILLY CURRINGTON (MERCURY-UNIVERSAL)
WALKING STRAIGHT TO CHART TOPS
"I'd be waiting at the door when he got home at night/ he'd pass
me by to pass out in his chair." - Walk A Little Straighter -
Billy Currington-Cason Chamberlain-Casey Beathard.
When Georgian Billy Currington was abused as a child by drunken stepfather
Larry he didn't get angry - he sat early for his literacy licence.
At the age of 12 the vigilant victim wrote the chorus for a song that
became his first hit just 27 years down the lost highway.
Currington, now 30, penned Walk A Little Straighter - one of the
10 originals on his self- titled debut disc on Mercury-Universal.
"He'd get drunk and a little crazy," Currington says. "He
eventually died of drinking and cancer."
Currington finished the song with producer Cason Chamberlain and Casey
Beathard but holds no grudge against his stepfather who introduced him
to the music of heroes Willie Nelson and the late Waylon Jennings.
The singer drew on small town memories in Rincon, south of Savannah, for
much of his material.
Good examples are Growin' Up Down There, Where The Girls Are and
That's Just Me.
But it was a two-year house share with stone country hit man Frank Dycus
- frequent co-writer with Dean Dillon and Buddy Cannon - that helped him
turn throwaway phrases and lines into song fodder.
I spent several hours with Dycus in 1983 as he recounted the embryo of
George Strait hits Her Goodbye Hit Me In The Heart, Honky Tonk Crazy,
Unwound, Down And Out and Marina Del Ray.
The basic message - lines spun in anger, joy or reflection are phosphate
of all great songs.
That's what the best writers excel in - turning personal tragedy into
It's also why artists hardcore as Steve Earle or teen targeted as Currington
don't hesitate to turn their misery into musical mirth.
There is little similarity in the artists but a desire to bare pain publicly
to illustrate their music.
to liner notes where Currington thanks childhood friend, Matt Thompson,
"for buying my lunch in school when I couldn't."
"I never found lunch money on the table on my way to school,"
he explains. "That wasn't because my mom didn't want to. She just
didn't have it."
Fiddle flavoured new hit I Got A Feeling, accompanied by a video
on Nu Country TV, swing laced Off My Rocker and When She Gets
Close To Me are radio friendly ear candy.
More reflective are Time With You, Hangin' Around and Next Time
- the only cover is the Tony Martin- Mark Nesler social comment finale
Ain't What It Used To Be.
The story of Currington is familiar - left his home town for Nashville
as a teenager at the behest of a local preacher, ran into doors while
working as a tradesman so he could work bars at night.
A brief stint at home enable him to recharge batteries and return to Music
City where his original songs were cut by Texans Tracy Byrd and Kenny
Rogers and Mark Wills.
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