Country megastar Jason Aldean doesn't front a tribute band insofar as we can tell. An argument could be made otherwise, considering the number of cover songs the crooner has performed and recorded during his storied career.
Whether or not fans are aware of it, some of Aldean's biggest hits were originally sung by someone else, which is a testament to the sheer pull and power that the back-to-back ACM Male Vocalist of the Year-winner has as a recording artist.
Amongst Aldean's numerous singles, b-sides, and songs that he's taken to the top of the charts with his distinct voice, guitar-heavy rhythms and multi-genre approach of blending diehard country music melodies with rock 'n' roll (and occasionally hip-hop) are several songs that originated from up-and-coming country artists or legendary old timers.
To wit: 2006's "Amarillo Sky" was first performed by McBride and the Ride, and he made a cover of Brantley Gilbert's "My Kind of Party." He's also known to offer up his take on Florida Georgia Line's "The Only Way I Know" and the Hank Williams, Jr. song "A Country Boy Can Survive." Aldean is quick to give credit where credit is due when performing or recording said songs, but ultimately takes each one and makes 'em his own, as well as oftentimes propelling 'em to greater popularity.
In the spirit of Country Thunder 2014, which kicks off today outside of Florence and will feature Aldean as one of its headliners, we're taking a look at the best songs he has covered over the years. Aldean, who is possibly the most electric performer of the four-day festival, is likely to perform at least one or two of 'em during his set on Sunday, April 13.
"Amarillo Sky" To cover another artist's song can be a great way to pay homage to your influences, and Aldean's 2006 single from his self-titled debut album was his first cover tune to rocket into the Top 10. This single came after he had established himself as the guy to keep an eye on with his first two songs "Hicktown" and "Why" from the same record. The lyrics of "Amarillo Sky" fit perfectly into the Aldean image of small town living and simple life influences--a common thread carried through his future albums.
The song was first recorded by McBride & the Ride in 2002 on their album Amarillo Sky, and has co-writing credits from the boys in Big & Rich along with Rodney Clawson and Bart Pursley.
"Johnny Cash" With the first single from his second album, 2007's Relentless, Aldean reached a whole new fan base with the faster and louder track "Johnny Cash". After flipping off his boss, Aldean gasses up his Pontiac and takes his lady love to Las Vegas with a Johnny Cash soundtrack for the ride.
Fellow country star Tracy Byrd originally recorded this song two years earlier for his Greatest Hits album, but it was Aldean who, again, brought the song into the ears of a mainstream audience.
"This I Gotta See"
There are a few noteworthy covers that Aldean has recorded over the years that didn't rank on the music charts, but are nonetheless impressive, such as his version of this Andy Griggs ballad from 2004.
Blake Shelton originated this ode to long haul truckers and their lonely life on the road, which was penned by Jeff Stevens and Kenny West. on his 2003 album The Dreamer. Two years later, Aldean covered the song on his 2005 self-titled debut, and the singer made it his own by offering a slightly faster tempo and higher-pitched vocals. He's even branded an official Resistol cowboy hat with the name of the song.
Two years after Relentless rose to #1 on the country charts, Aldean released his next album, Wide Open, and from it came the platinum single "The Truth". A slower introspective plea to his girlfriend, "The Truth" has a distinctive love ballad tone that Aldean embraces more and more in his later career, while still carrying that tell-tale drawl.
"The Truth" was originally heard on the Trent Willmon album Broken In, in 2008. Aldean has stated in the past that he wanted to record his own version of the song as soon as he heard it.
Just for the hell of it, I'm including this pretty cool live rendition that Aldean did of Kid Rock's 1999 mega-hit. Although Aldean's not the only country fried musician to cover the song (as both Kenny Chesney and Uncle Kracker have their own versions), he occasionally trots it out at concerts to the delight of his crowds and is buddies with the Detroit rap-rocker. Hell, Kid Rock himself joined Aldean onstage back in 2011 to perform the chart-topper.
"My Kinda Party"
And so begins the relationship between Jason Aldean and Brantley Gilbert. Both musicians are now part of the mainstream country sound currently coming out of the Georgia clay, but in 2010 when Aldean released his album My Kinda Party, Gilbert was still working to make a name for himself. And there is probably no better way to break out onto the scene than to have one of country music's hottest artists not only sing a song you wrote, but title his album after it as well.
"Dirt Road Anthem"
Next up on the Jason Aldean and Brantley Gilbert playlist is "Dirt Road Anthem", which was written by Gilbert and fellow Georgia comrade Colt Ford. It has been performed separately and in unison by all three artists. Plus, the original duet of the song with Ford and Gilbert has also become popular.
"He does his own thing with them," Gilbert told Up on the Sun last year when asked about the covers Jason Aldean does of his songs. "I think he did a great job with it. He's a super-nice dude; I have a lot of respect for Jason."
Aldean's version of "Dirt Road Anthem" has since gone quadruple platinum and he has now done another rendition of the hit with Ludacris.
Jason Aldean is scheduled to perform on Sunday, April 13, at Country Thunder 2014 in Florence.
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