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At the time CW sat down with Josh in Las Vegas, he was opening for George Strait. Josh is now on the road with Carrie Underwood. Here's part of what he had to say in his most revealing interview ever with CW.
CW: What's a cool thing about being out with George?
JT: Well, the fans that are in attendance are there to hear country music. They're true country music fans. And that's what they've come there to hear. That's what they spend their money on. And so, for me, it's a perfect situation because I get to go out there and I know they're gonna like what I do, because I'm all about country music. And I know there's gonna be, probably an eclectic mix of people there—as far as ages especially—and my style of music is traditional, but at the same time it has a fresh approach so it appeals to a lot of the younger generation and the older generation, too.
CW: Are you thinking in terms of headliningÂ and do you learn things from George and others about the way you want to run things when you are the headliner?
JT: I'm definitely watchin' and learnin'. I've always been a very observant person, ever since I was really young. I've always just been one to talk less and listen more. And that's the person I've always been. I'd rather watch and learn from somebody else's mistakes than my own! (he laughs) And I wish I could say that I've always done that, but I have learned from my own mistakes, and I've risen above that.
It was kinda cool, the last couple dates, cause I was in Sacramento and then Fresno. And I saw some radio guys that have actually been there for many years. And I remember goin' on my first radio tour and seein' these guys and goin' out to a steakhouse and eatin' a steak with 'em. And now, I'm openin' for George Strait. I've got a great group of guys around me and we're just continuing to take it to that next level. That's our goal every year.
CW: Is your approach gonna change at all . . . even your set list . . . opening for Carrie as opposed to opening for George?
JT: A little bit. I've got a great lighting guy now. We're gonna be bringing out some lights. We've moved up to three buses now, we're bringing out front of house console. You know, stuff like that that fans don't really think about. We're continuin' to get any piece of equipment that makes our show better. We're trying to do that just one piece at a time. And, like I say, as far as the positions out on the road, I think I have them filled so far—especially for the moment. And I think we're making great strides in improvin' our show and bringin' the fans a different kind of show.
This year we'll be goin' back to some markets I've played many times. And I want to be able to go there, play some new stuff . . . throw a surprise or two at 'em . . . and I think this new set and this new approach that we've got is gonna accomplish that.
CW: Last time we talked, you told me you'd never had a beer. I'm sure you found yourself at a party or two in college where someone probably offered you a beer. Did you ever think, "You know, I'm just curious to find out what drinkin' a beer feels like or tastes like?"
JT: (He laughs) That's never been a problem for me—thank goodness. That's never been a problem for me because I was in high school and I went to a party. And just about everybody there was drunk off their butt. And these were people that I went to school with. And the people I saw at the party that night were completely different than the people I want to school with. And I was like, "You know, if that's what alcohol does to you, I don't want it.7quot; And I've never had a desire to try it. The smell turns me off. I mean, it doesn't bother me to where I'm gonna walk out of a room, but I've just never had the desire to try it and I don't have a reason to drink it.
CW: As long as there's water and Dr. Pepper to get you through the day?
JT: Yeah, exactly . . . sweet tea does more for me!
CW: In your CMT special, you talked about your dad and his intervening when the man was hitting his child. You said seeing that taught you a lot about being a man. What other things did he teach you about being a man? How to hammer a nail? I know you built your doghouse. Are there things every man should know that you learned from him?
JT: Yeah, and he always taught me—I guess one of the most important lessons he ever taught me was "just pay attention." And I guess that's where I got a lot of my "observancy" from. If you go through life and you never pay attention to your surroundings, you're never gonna learn anything. And so from a very early age, I was just so enthralled by people that were older than me and had lived a full life and had been through so many experiences. And he was one of 'em.
He's got such a great sense of humor, he's worked a variety of different kinds of jobs. He's been through so many different experiences. He's a smart man, he's a wise man, he's very determined . . . sometimes hard headed.
CW: Did you inherit any of that?
b>JT: Oh yeah, definitely. He was just knowledgeable about so many different things. That just intrigued me. And we had a barn out back behind our house. He and I just spent so many days and nights out there in that barn workin' on different projects or doin' stuff around the house or whatever. My wife, Jennifer, is always impressed by what I can fix around the house. I'm a jack of all trades and master of none, basically. But whether it's electrical or plumbin' or this or that around the house, I've dabbled in it. I enjoy that.
And like I say, he's taught me lessons about life, dreams and how to achieve your goals.
One of the worst experiences of my life was goin' through high school basketball. 'Cause I had the worst coach in the world and I just never got a fair shake at it. And basketball's my favorite sport. I always loved basketball, but I never had a chance to prove to anybody that I was good. I was the hardest worker on the team, I was always on time for practice. There were times when a bunch of other guys didn't have a ride to go home, so I would take 'em home. Then I went home, then I'd do my homework, then I'd go to bed and get up the next day and do it all over again. And I just worked and worked and worked because I wanted to be a starter.
He started me one time, and I went out and scored the first four points of the game and then he took me out for no apparent reason, and never put me back in. And to make a long story short, I quit during that game. I got up off the bench, walked to the locker room, changed my clothes, walked out and when I did, in the whole gym, you could've heard a pin drop.
CW: So the fans knew what was goin' on?
JT: Yeah, exactly. This was my junior year, which was my fourth year of being on the varsity team, because I ended up making the varsity team in the 8th grade. I just started questioning why I was even here to begin with if he's not gonna give me a fair shake? My daddy taught me a lot of lessons through that. He was like, "This is gonna build a lot of character. There's things that happen to you that you don't understand, but you have to learn from it." It's things like that that I have learned from. Defeat and rejection don't really bother me. I just get right back up and I keep swingin'.
CW: Is there a fine line between leavin' yourself in a position where you're taking abuse you shouldn't take . . . and maybe being thought of as a quitter because you signed up for something you didn't finish?
JT: It always depends on the situation.
CW: "Good Ole Boys Like Me" is one of my favorite songs. And in the lyrics a line says, "And he talked about honor and things I should know." Did your dad ever talk with you about those things, or was it more by example that he taught you?
JT: It was a little of both. I really took to heart a lot of what he said. He had a great way of expressin' things to me. There were days I'd come home from sports or school or church or whatever and I'd be dejected for whatever reason, and he and I would just sit in the bedroom and sit down and talk about it. And I would come away from that experience with a better perspective and a better attitude.
For more on Josh Turner, got to the March 10 Country Weekly.