Billy Ray Cyrus Releases Rootsy, Rockin’ New Version of ‘Achy Breaky Heart’ [Listen]
Billy Ray Cyrus is celebrating the 25th anniversary of his biggest hit by re-inventing it, and himself.
The country singer -- who announced on Friday (April 28) that he is changing his name to simply Cyrus in August -- also dropped an unexpected new recording of his signature song, "Achy Breaky Heart," on Friday, pulling back the tempo and delivering the track with a Stones-y swagger that's closer to songwriter Don Von Tress' original intent for the song.
Cyrus lowers the key for the new version, and sings it in a growling voice that gives it more of a rock edge than the line-dance classic original. Von Tress joined with Cyrus in Muscle Shoals, Ala., to cut the new track with members of the famous Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, the Swampers. Ronnie Milsap sat in on keyboards on the track.
"When the song was released in the spring of '92 the world, believe it or not, felt much like it does right now,” Cyrus says in a press release. "There were wars and rumors of wars. Famine and darkness was revealing itself much around the globe. People were divided. And politically it felt as crazy across America as it does now. Basically, it felt like a good time for a happy song. Something simple that everyone could sing and yes, even dance to. Take your mind off all the heavy stuff for 3 minutes and 27 seconds!"
Country Stars Who Changed Their Names Mid-Career
Cyrus tells Rolling Stone Country he's also gearing up to release a Spanglish version of "Achy Breaky Heart," and there's also an EDM version of the song coming that he recorded with Bootsy Collins.
He previously joined rapper Buck 22 in 2014 to record a hip-hop version of the song titled "Achy Breaky 2" that was accompanied by an eye-popping video.
The decision for him to change his name has been a long time coming.
"I always went by Cyrus, and I begged Mercury Records to call me Cyrus in the beginning because that's what I was comfortable with. I'm going to the hospital where I was born in Bellefonte, Kentucky, and legally changing my name," he tells RSC.
Cyrus is also working on a new album and preparing for the Season Two premiere of Still the King on CMT in the summer of 2017.
Billy Ray Was Part of One of Country's Nastiest Feuds
Learn the Real Names of Country's Biggest Stars