Chris Janson Looks Back on His Long, Awkward Road to Success
When Chris Janson’s new song “Buy Me a Boat” blew up on iTunes last month, it was a highlight at the end of a long, long journey for the native Missourian. “I’m a 10th year senior this year,” he says, joking around with Taste of Country Nights about how long he's been in Nashville.
Janson moved to Nashville at age 19, wrote a few songs, signed a record deal, lost that record deal before tasting success, kept writing and performing and grinding to make his dream a reality. Along the way the father and husband to wife Kelly began playing the Grand Ole Opry, and has since played it 90 times.
“When I moved here, of course I wanted to be on the radio and wanted to do several things, but my biggest goal ever was to play the Grand Ole Opry,” he tells Sam Alex.
He literally got a chance to look back to the good old days during the interview. A photo of Janson from the Walk the Line movie premiere surfaced, showing the young singer with a very different haircut. He's not proud of the look, which he says was the result of not really caring.
"I would just call that, 'I-didn’t-really-care-but-I-thought-I-looked-really-cool," he explains. "I mean, I’d take the outfit and wear that today but I would never wear that hair. And look at my face — I look like a little butterball baby.”
His style was a product of age and feeling a little too cool for school. The movie premiere 10 years ago was one of Janson's first outings in the business, and he didn't yet know how to handle himself.
“True story: that is on the black carpet of the Walk the Line premiere that movie that came out and I was seven days fresh out of Tootsie’s at that point," Janson explains. "You gotta understand now I’d never been ... it’s like taking a tiger out of the zoo and putting him into the real world and expecting him to work with civilians. I was a normal dude, but I had no idea what it was like to be around any stars or anything at that point — I was just a crummy bar singer doing my deal."
Now his priorities are straight. The humble singer is quick to thank God and his fans. In fact, he makes it a point to settle his nervous long enough for an Opry tradition each time he takes the stage.
“My wife and I pray, thank the Lord for the blessings and that’s what we do,” Janson says. Afterwards they may hit the Waffle House. Surely the Big Man would approve of some smothered and covered.
Look for Janson’s song “Buy Me a Boat” at iTunes. “Every little bit of this song is pretty legit, it’s kind of how we do things,” he says. The singer is lining up spring and summer tour dates now, but plans to be at Country Jam in Colorado on June 21.
Sam Alex is the host of Taste of Country Nights radio, a syndicated night show which airs on more than 60 Townsquare Media Group stations nationwide.