Lyrics Uncovered: Trace Adkins, ‘Jesus and Jones’
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Trace Adkins‘ “Jesus and Jones” lyrics are bringing a very different vibe to country radio, exploring the sometimes thin line between transgression and redemption in a way that we haven’t seen before.
Written by Casey Beathard, Tyler Farr and Jim McCormick, the song came about from the normal course of a writing appointment. According to McCormick, the title was Beathard’s idea. “Tyler and I responded to it immediately,” he tells Taste of Country. “I totally related to what he had in mind, throwing that title out. Of course, both those guys are great writers, and it helps to have great co-writers. We got after it real fast, we really did.”
He recalls that once the idea for the title and melody were on the table, the “Jesus and Jones” lyrics were easy to write. “I certainly can relate to the idea behind the song, and I got it,” he relates. “We started throwing lines out that would fit, and seemed true to the struggle of the singer of the song. It wasn’t long before we had more good choices than we needed on a lot of those lines. It was a kick to write it. I won’t say it was very difficult, because I think the three of us felt what we were trying to say, and we all came from a place that could speak to it honestly.”
Since Farr was a co-writer on the song, and since he was gathering songs for his next studio project, “I’d be lying if I said we didn’t have him in mind,” McCormick admits. “But that idea was so strong, it took on a life of its own. It wasn’t like we were searching through Tyler’s autobiography for the lyric of the song. I think all three of us felt a lot of different things about it. We didn’t have anybody in mind besides the man sitting next to us. It’s his song as much as it is Casey’s and mine, and I’m sure it was up for consideration. But those decisions, I have no idea really what goes into them. Who know what happens in all of that?”
"I think the three of us felt what we were trying to say, and we all came from a place that could speak to it honestly."
Instead, the songs made its way to Adkins via Daniel Lee at BMG Music Publishing, who sent it to Benny Brown, the head BBR Music Group, which is the parent company of Wheelhouse Records, where Adkins has a new deal. “Jesus and Jones” is the first single from a new album the singer will release under the auspices of that contract. Though he didn’t write it, the song is autobiographical for Adkins, who has struggled publicly with alcohol, most recently returning to rehab in early 2014.
“When I’m up on the wagon I’m a hell of a saint / But I’ll be damned if there ain’t another town to paint / Just down the road, man it’s a game that I can’t win,” the “Jesus and Jones” lyrics proclaim, followed by a chorus that ends with, “Been a tug o’war since I was a kid between Jesus and Jones.”
“I’m so fired up for this song to be his new single at this time, on a new label,” McCormick states. “It absolutely was exciting to hear that he wanted it, and to find out that he wanted it for a single is just excellent.”
He hopes the message of the song will resonate with a wide cross-section of listeners.
“You’re not alone if you’re going through it. You’re not alone in that struggle,” McCormick says. “I think it’s just learning how to balance your life and find moderation, and get a hold of your wild side without letting go of having a great time in life. And living a life of balance, which is an ongoing process.”
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