Song of the Week

Song of the Week: The Cadillac Three’s “White Lightning”


(Courtesy: Big Machine Label Group)

I was lucky enough to spend some time with the Cadillac Three last year during the ACM Awards in Las Vegas. In fact, I interviewed and ran into them several times throughout the weekend that they joked that I should join the band. I should have taken them up on the offer!

The Cadillac Three, made up of Jaren Johnston, Neil Mason and Kelby Ray, have one of the best live shows out there. The Southern rock trio also happen to be the writers behind many of the hits you hear on the radio, including Jake Owen‘s “Beachin’,” Tim McGraw’s “Meanwhile Back At Mama’s” and Rascal Flatts’ “Payback.” It is their own music, though, that is now earning it’s fair slot on the radio.

I have woken up with the Cadillac Three’s new single “White Lightning” stuck in my head for the past several days. During my chat with the guys last year they were promoting their single “The South” but they mentioned that “White Lightning” was one single in particular that their fans overseas have been really into and that they were really excited to release in the States.

The song itself embodies the band’s Southern roots while at the same time manages to showcase their vulnerability. Johnston wrote the song about the first time he met his wife and paints metaphors to how fast she stole his heart. She also happens to star in the band’s music video for the song, which you can watch below.

Interviews Q&A

Top 25 Interviews of 2014: No. 24 Frankie Ballard


I was fortunate to interview country singer Frankie Ballard twice this year. The first time, we sat down and discussed his sophomore album Sunshine & Whiskey at our CBS office in New York where he told me how he felt the first time he heard what would become his first No. 1 single, “Helluva Life.”

“The first time I ever heard ‘Helluva Life,’ it really moved me because it’s very parallel with the journey I’ve been on,” he told me. On the chorus of the song Ballard sings, “The bad times make the good times better,” and he says those lyrics sum up his musical journey.

“I’m more mature,” he said of the years since his first collection songs was released. “I feel like a better artist because of those things that I’ve been through. Because I’ve played in bars and honky-tonks and things that I’ve learned. I was selling beer long before I was selling myself as the product.”

“Helluva Life” has become an anthem for many country fans too, which doesn’t surprise Ballard.

“I knew that it would be that way for a lot of people,” Ballard explained. “No matter what they are trying to achieve on their journey in life, it’s important to remember that those struggles, and the good times as well, everything together is what makes your life what it is. That statement of saying, ‘Man, it’s a helluva life,’ it just evokes some hope. It’s a coping mechanism for some people.”

Ballard spent the past two years working on the follow-up to his debut and has enjoyed watching the success “Helluva Life” has brought. It has in a way given him a second chance in music.

“It’s been cool to watch it take on a life of its own, people making it their own,” he said. “The lyrics mean different things to people’s journeys. It’s such a blessing to see it take on a life of its own.”


I wound up interviewing him again at the ACM Awards in Las Vegas and asked him how he celebrated when that same song went to No. 1. His answer: he bought a Manuel suit, tailored by the same man who created so many famous country outfits, including Johnny Cash‘s all-black suits and Elvis Presley‘s signature gold lamé suit.

“I had it made because I wanted to do something to commemorate having my first-ever No. 1 song, treat myself a little bit,” he told me. “I always wanted one of these. It’s a Native American theme. It has a big chief on the back and I thought, ‘Where are you going to wear this?’ Las Vegas was the first thing that came to mind.”