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Billy Ray Cyrus - Wanna Be Your Joe 
By: George Peden, CSO Staff Journalist

“I want my mullet back/my ole Camaro and my 8 track/fuzzy dice hangin' proud/ ZZ Top they’re playin’ loud…”

There’s’ no doubting Billy Ray Cyrus has moved beyond the frantic days of “Achy, Breaky Heart”. The then hip tossing and stage prancing chartbuster, who nailed Billboard in ’92 with his line dancing anthem, a tune that when it strikes its first urgent opening chord either creates ready acceptance or morbid dislike, shaped a craze hard to live down.

There was a time when good ol’ Billy Ray couldn’t put a foot wrong. Literally. The Chest of the West, The Mullet Man, call him what you will, he was big. He was bigger than big. The tune catapulted him into country consciousness. His debut album, Some Gave All, from which the tune came, sat chart topside for an impressive 17 weeks and sold 9 million copies – outselling Garth in that year. The single was also a CMT staple. The rugged Kentuckian – he keeps his form sharp with rumored six hour daily work-outs -- was here, he was there -- he was the identifiable persona of country music. But as soon as one hero arrives, another’s needed. The public move on, and with Billy Ray, quickly. He never really regained the local popularly and widespread adulation that came from a song that was as annoying as it was unforgettable.

But while the defining moment for Billy Ray came and went, the singer with the catchiest tune in country continued to deliver. Albums such as It Won’t Be The Last, Storm in the Heartland, and the revealing Trail of Tears, with other latter-day releases, have all kept the fan base happy. The applauded role of a rural doctor making the city life transition in TV’s Doc kept the profile high, too.

And while the dizzy days of fleeting fame may have passed, Cyrus has still been able to record and offer worthwhile music. His latest album, the mainly co-written Wanna Be Your Joe proves beyond doubt Billy Ray Cyrus isn’t a manufactured idol from the past. His fans may be older, sure, and the stage moves a little more controlled, but that’s fine. Billy Ray’s music has mellowed into something far removed from the lust-filled frenzy that once was part of the BRC theatrics.

“Wanna Be your Joe” is a point in proof. There’s no tush-pushin’ here. The tune, mellow with the revealing truth that ”Joe may never be a rich man, a lawyer or a movie star,” no worries; his contentment comes from the domestic pride of a loving wife and the chance to watch his babies grow. And while the sedate side of life might be an ideal album opener, the tongue-in-cheek ‘I Want My Mullet Back” is a hankering for times past. Billy Ray, who holds the title of Mullet God on a dedicated web site, rocks out with a tune pointing fun at a style cut he made an art form.

Well-known performers George Jones and Loretta Lynn are guest vocalists on “Country Music Has The Blues”. The tuneful trio ponder, on a tune Cyrus wrote with his son, Trace, just what’s to become of country music now the legends have passed. Further reflection on life’s fragility plays on “The Man” (Tribute to Dale Earnhardt), and on the crafted remembrance to Lynyrd Skynyrd, “The Freebird Fell”.

Keeping the music in the family, daughter Miley joins Dad on a tale of human values and personal commitments with “Stand”, while a wish is granted on “Hey Daddy”. The song is a tribute to Cyrus’ father, who, sadly, died earlier this year. As Billy Ray shares in the liner, his father only heard the song a week before he passed. He asked that he not be the only one to ever hear it.

“Lonely Wins” is a rock-out radio track for sure, while “Ole What’s Her Name” pokes fun at the love game, while the bonus cut” A Pain In The Gas” pumps octane realities with its barbed social commentary on rising prices. 

Forget the mullet. Forget the push and pull of a line-dancing train. Forget the past. Making music with lasting meaning, not for notoriety and not for quick passing chart success, is where this average Joe now finds himself. And there are many who couldn’t be happier. 

Click on the picture above to order your copy now!

1: Wanna Be Your Joe
2: I Want My Mullet Back
3: The Man
4: I Wouldn't Be Me
5: What About Us
6: Country Music Has the Blues - (with George Jones/Loretta Lynn)
7: The Freebird Fell
8: I Wonder.
9: Lonely Wins
10: How’ve Ya Been
11: Ole What's Her Name
12: Hey Daddy
13: Stand - (with Miley Cyrus)
14:A.Pain In the Gas - (bonus track)

Related Links:
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George Peden ROCKS! That is THE best review ever about BRC. Rock on, George. You are awesome.
~ Fans from Texas


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