Brian Wright, known as Big City Brian Wright, just released the third single from his debut album “Honkytonkitis” that drops on March 31st. Originally written by Steve Young (who wrote Seven Bridges Road), “Lonesome, On’ry and Mean” was first cut by Waylon Jennings and came at a time when the music industry was being dominated by The Nashville Sound through Owen Bradley and Chet Atkins.
Waylon Jennings, along with other artists during this period in the 60s & early 70s (Willie Nelson, etc), were originally produced using the same pop arrangements familiar to that style. “Lonesome, On’ry and Mean” was a breakout song, commanding a new defiant direction for him musically, and arguably defined what would become the Outlaw Movement by these artists.
Ironically, nearly 40 years later today, one could suggest country music may again be at that sort of breaking point. Big City Brian Wright sure thinks so.
We sat down with Brian to discuss his version of the song, as well as his upcoming album and country music:
Why did you decide to cover “Lonesome On’ry and Mean”?
“Country music was created out of good times and bad. It’s real music about real life. To recognize an artist’s pain in a song is not coincidence. You have no reason to believe what they are singing…because it’s the damn truth. That’s the kind of music that will never go away. It’s the music that folks relate to. That’s country music. If you’re writing and creating anything other than that, you’re a gimmick. That’s why I added this last verse to “Lonesome, On’ry and Mean.” It’s a shot across the bow at the industry and their constant focus on money instead of artistic integrity. They don’t get it.”
How do you really feel about country music?
I think we’re at the same breaking point again that we’ve probably hit 2 or 3 times over the last 50 years. Right now, we have a lot of similar patterns and lyrics in pop, hip-hop oriented music with some country instruments added to make it sound country. Fans don’t like it, but that’s what we’re being force-fed by the dominant labels and radio. With the breakout of artists like Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, we’re starting to remember what real music is. The fans are responding.
Tell me about your album, “Honkytonkitis”
“Honkytonkitis” is collection of real songs about real life. I write alone, when I’m inspired from some life event, good or bad. I don’t force anything. When I feel the need to get it out, I pick up a guitar (or not if I don’t have one) and write it down. I literally can’t get it out of my head until I have some sort of recording. I’m haunted by lyrics and song, I guess. The album is a modern twist on a traditional sounding arrangement. I hear something modern because of my music background and taste. Fans hear traditional sounding country. Whatever it is, we both like it.
The album was recorded with an A-List band and Grammy Winning Producer, Matt McClure, at Ocean Way Studio here in Nashville. This sounds like a huge budget and label effort, but I just happen to be friends with all these guys and it was actually the most convenient way for me to record my songs. All I can say is I’m very lucky and having a damn good time making country music.
I heard you’re also an airline pilot?
Yeah, I actually moved to Nashville in the late 90s, fresh out of Auburn University, for my first aviation job of flight instructing at John C. Tune Airport here in town. That’s when I met over half of the guys that I currently record and play with, who were learning to fly at the time. I got an airline job in 1999 and have been doing that ever since.
Being a pilot is just the opposite of being a singer/songwriter. They are both on the opposite end of the spectrum, brain-wise. But, it’s really a great balance for me. I mean when people find out at work that I am Big City Brian Wright, they can’t even believe it’s me. And I get the same reaction from musicians who don’t know me. “You’re a pilot?” If I had to wish a life for myself, I’m doing it right now. It’s busy as hell, but I love every minute.
What’s coming from Big City Brian Wright?
I’ve been hearing for over 15 years of playing live shows that fans want to hear traditional sounding country music. There is a void and I’m here to fill it. We’re bringing real country music wherever we can. My friend, George Jones sang “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes.” That’s my job til I die.
For more music and news, go to www.bigcityrocks.com
The debut album “Honktytonkitis” will be available everywhere music is sold digitally on March 31st.
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