Jake Owen on the After-Effects of Vegas: ‘I’m a Changed Guy’
Seven months after the deadly Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting in Las Vegas, Jake Owen acknowledges that he will never, ever be the same.
“I’m a changed guy ... 100 percent,” Owen tells Taste of Country. He was hanging out on the side of the stage on Oct. 1, watching Jason Aldean's festival-closing set when the shooting began.
"I have met many of the victims from Vegas in the last few weeks. They are just innocent people who came out to see a show and hear music that night, and now they are in a wheelchair and can’t walk. I was there with those people," he says, "Why wasn't it me?"
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The pain seeps the telephone line — evidence that the incidence has haunted him since the night a lone shooter killed 58 country music fans and injured more than 800 more. But while the pain might not subside for Owen or any of the artists who were there that night, he's found a glimmer of light in the darkness. He now understands his purpose.
"The whole Vegas thing gave me so much perspective, personally," Owen says. "Now I look out into the crowd of people coming out to enjoy a show differently. They are not only coming out to see an artist they like, but some of them are coming out to escape a little from everyday life. They are there to create memories with the people they love."
"It’s not that I didn’t understand that before — I did," he insists, "But now, more than ever before, my job is to go out there and entertain."
Owen will do just that on his upcoming Life’s Whatcha Make It Tour, which takes him to baseball stadiums across the country alongside special guests Chris Janson and rising star Jordan Davis. The tour is set to kick off on May 18 in Tennessee.
“As entertainers, that’s what all of us signed up for,” he insists. "We signed up to entertain those people who paid for a ticket and paid for parking and paid for a babysitter and paid $10 for a beer. I want to make sure those people have the time of their life via my live performance. I'm really approaching every show like it was my last. It's not that I think something is going to happen, but I’m never going to take it for granted again that I’m going to do this show tonight and do another one tomorrow."
"If they are being truthful, every entertainer would say that, at some point in their career, they took it for granted," Owen continues. "I just appreciate what I do now more than ever before. I consciously think about it each and every time."
It’s a transformation that Owen says has been a long time coming.
"I’ve been doing this for a long time," the "I Was Jack (You Were Diane)" singer says. “I mean, I’ve had a record deal for 10 years. I'm not old — I don’t feel old at all, but I have had a lot of time to grow up. It’s all in how you decide to look at it. When you are positive, it attracts positivity. You can hear that through my music and I swear that positivity is contagious. I try to wake up every day and make sure I make it a great day from now on."
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