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Joe Diffie
Broken Bow Records
Current album: Tougher Than Nails

Despite his intense touring schedule to promote his new CD, Joe Diffie took a few minutes to sit down with us during the CMA Fest/Fan Fair in Nashville and answer a couple of questions.

When Diffie's contract with Sony ended, he decided to take his career involvement to another level and signed with one of Nashville's top independent labels, Broken Bow Records. Tougher Than Nails is the first time in his career that he is donning the producer's hat and if you have heard the album, it is plainly evident that the hat fits perfectly and is one that he should definitely wear on future albums. There is a new energy in his demeanor when he talks about this project and it is also apparent in his voice when you listen to the CD.

When I asked him what musical achievement he was most proud of to date, his immediate response was, "Becoming a member of the Grand Ole Opry. It was such a milestone. There is a great tradition there and so it means a lot to me to be able to say that I'm a member of the Opry."  He says that although he had always hoped that some day he could be a member, it wasn't necessarily a conscious goal but when the opportunity to join was offered him, his immediate response was an enthusiastic and instantaneous, "Well, heck yeah."

He says that if he had to name one favorite song on the new CD, it would be truly difficult but he really likes "Good News, Bad News" because it is, "so country and so well written." He told me that when he first heard the demo of that song, he played it over and over at least fifty times. In fact, he says that he was on his tour bus and long after everyone else had gone to bed, he was still listening to that song. "There was just something about it that I really liked," he says "and I really wasn't sure what it was. But I knew I liked it. It was just a feelin'." His passion for this song can be heard in his voice when he sings it; he packs an amazing amount of emotion into only three minutes and forty-six seconds.

Diffie says that this CD is a real reflection of him and the way he was raised and the songs are, for the most part, indicative of where he is at this point in his life. All I can say is if that is true than he is at a really good place because this album is sure to add some more number one hits to the ten he already has. He wrote many of the songs on this CD and says that he has always preferred "substance over sizzle" and he is confident that this album has plenty of substance -- and it does. But to balance the substance, it also has some great up-tempo tunes and one song title that would surely make the country song title hall of fame, if there was one. Diffie says that "The More You Drink, The Better I Look" started out to be a ballad that he was writing with Shawn Camp and, lucky for us, they "just got to having some fun with it." This great toe-tapper was the end result and when you hear it, be sure to listen closely to the pick up lines at the end; obviously Diffie has eaves dropped on a few honky tonk conversations.

In my review of Tougher Than Nails I wrote, "when the vocals mesh with the instrumentals so perfectly, and the ambiance of the music is so real that you reach for a cold brew and some peanuts, you KNOW you are in honky-tonk heaven." But after listening to the album a few more times before doing this interview, and observing the excitement Diffie conveyed as he talked about it's content, I feel compelled to expand on my initial observations. Diffie said during this interview what I should have said in my album review. This album, and Joe Diffie, are about substance; quality substance and plenty of it. But I did get it right when I said that there are no rough edges, just fluid, flawless, fantastic, from the heart music and by the end of our interview it was extremely gratifying to have my observations confirmed.

You can prop me up next to a Joe Diffie jukebox any ole time you want. He has perfected classic country and the emphasis is on class.


Feature article by Cheryl Harvey Hill

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