Forever Country

Album: Single release only (2016)
Charted: 21
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • The Country Music Association commissioned this song to honor 50 years of the CMA Awards. It was recorded over three days in Nashville during June 2016 with Shane McAnally as producer. The single was released on September 16, 2016.
  • The song is a newly-recorded mashup of John Denver's "Take Me Home Country Roads," Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again" and Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You." Denver passed away in 1997, but Parton and Nelson are both featured on the track, along with 28 other artists from across generations of the country genre. They are:

    Alabama, Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, Brooks & Dunn, Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Brett Eldredge, Vince Gill, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Martina McBride, Tim McGraw, Ronnie Milsap, Kacey Musgraves, Brad Paisley, Charley Pride, Rascal Flatts, Reba, Darius Rucker, Blake Shelton, George Strait, Randy Travis, Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, and Trisha Yearwood.
  • All profits from the sale and streaming of the song went toward music education causes supported by the CMA Foundation.
  • Lady Antebellum's Charles Kelley discussed the three songs that make up the recording: "What I thought was really cool was that all these songs represented are country songs that have also kind of crossed over in a way. They're big, popular songs. 'Country Roads' was actually more of a pop song that turned into a country song and then you've got, of course, 'I Will Always Love You' which was a country song that then turned into a big pop song so I think that's very representative too of where country music is right now – a genre that really does skirt the line and it is such a broad appeal and it always has been but it's really cool to kind of be singing songs that weren't just country songs. These are just iconic, massive songs."
  • The video was directed by Joseph Kahn, who has also has helmed clips for such stars as Mariah Carey, Eminem, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Taylor Swift and U2.
  • The song debuted at #1 on the country chart. It was the third single to achieve that feat following Garth Brooks' "More Than a Memory" and Craig Wayne Boyd's "My Baby's Got a Smile on Her Face."
  • The song was produced and co-arranged by Shane McAnally, who has worked with the likes of Kacey Musgraves, Kelly Clarkson, Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan and Miranda Lambert. McAnally told Nash Country Daily that once they'd decided on a mash-up there were several other tunes in contention for the project. He explained:

    "We had Glen Campbell's 'Gentle On My Mind' with "On the Road Again" at one point. We also tried Kenny Rogers' 'The Gambler.' Ultimately, everyone felt like 'I Will Always Love You' was the centerpiece that we needed.

    I was having a hard time figuring out how that song could sing with any other song because it's such a personal song … When it's sung over 'Take Me Home,' it takes on a new life. It feels like you're singing to the music. That was just insight others had that I couldn't see because I was too in the middle of it.

    Being able to end on Dolly singing "I Will Always Love You" feels like you are looking back over the history of country music. I was literally laying in bed thinking about these songs and how to make it work and got up and sang the idea into my phone one night."
  • The music clip won Video of the Year at the 2017 ACM Awards.
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