Rodney Carrington: I Like It All
Rodney Carrington’s new CD and video combine great humor, strong melodies and a singing voice as good as most people on the charts.
“I’ve always thought if you can come up with a great melody and present it in a serious way, and let the comedy come through where it needs to, that’s really kind of a nice combination,” explains Rodney Carrington, relaxing in his Tulsa home on the June 16 release day of us latest CD—the all music, mostly hilarious El Nino Loco.
And that’s exactly what Rodney’s done on the new CD, a 10-song collection of tunes containing plenty of the naughty humor fans of his six previous albums have come to love, but delivering the comedy in melodies and rhythms that could hold their own on mainstream country radio. He took a few minutes to chat with CW about his CD, his buddy Toby Keith and other things. Here’s some of what Rodney had to say.
For more on Rodney, check out the July 13 issue of Country Weekly.
- I love the CD. Congrats.
- I’ve done comedy songs and standup . . . a combination. This was a different record than what I’ve done in the past. I wanted to do something I could do videos with. CMT had a couple people over there who had asked me to “bring us something, bring us a video, brings us something funny.” This album was really an opportunity to try to do something with that. And make the songs playable on radio. I’m 40. My mind’s different. I’ve got kids who are teenagers now.
- And you change because you grow. You hope that you do. With each record, it’s always been like a time capsule of where I was in each place of my life. And I wanted to do kind of a comedy, novelty song album . . . we were workin’ on the movie at the time [Beer for My Horses] . . . and I asked Toby if he wanted to help me with it. And he came on board and helped me and produced it and used a lot of the players that he uses on his projects.
- I didn’t have any grand visions of what this record’s gonna do. But it’s a part of what I do already. Usually I’d put four or five songs on a standup record. So this is just an extension of that without the standup and an ability to put together some music videos. And “I’m the Only One” was the first video, and I think it turned out pretty good.
- Every time I watch that, I see something I hadn’t noticed before. Was that intentional, to put a lot of little visuals in there?
- Yeah, to let folks discover it and have a chuckle . . . and go back, like on a comedy record, and hopefully find different things to laugh about. [FYI, if you haven’t seen the video, some of the following may not make sense. So watch it, then come back and read this again!]
- The song itself in the video is about this woman who just blatantly cheats on this guy. But he’s so ignorant. “Look, I don’t want to ruffle any feathers, but do you not find this wrong?” That sort of thing. “Don’t you know this is not how married people act?”
- And it just kinda gets worse and worse. And at the end, the little thing at the end is such a great little twist. It just makes it all okay.
- Yeah . . . right up until the time she gets off the bus, I’m thinkin’, “This is terrible!”
- (big laugh) That’s exactly right!
- But then you see the adoption thing on the refrigerator and you think, “Oh, well this is great.” It leaves you with a warm fuzzy.
- Yeah. And I’m tellin’ you I’ve gotten a lot of letters about that ending. And a lot of people have adopted . . . I have not adopted anybody. But I’ve gotten full custody of my niece in the past year, and she has a real chance at life. So, when you can really help somebody who otherwise is left to their own devices and doesn’t have anybody to take care of ’em, it’s a great thing. It just worked out that way.
- My good friend, Kirk Martindale, one of the producers on the video, actually pitched that ending idea to me and I fell in love with it. I thought it was just an awesome idea. I had all the comedy and we were tryin’ to figure out . . . ’cause when the little black boy runs out of the house at the end and you just think, “Good God Almighty! Does he not get it?” (laughs) How stupid is this guy?
- I could not hammer down how this thing was gonna wrap up and then Kirk called me about a week before we shot it and he said, “What do you think about this?” It was just a great idea to wrap it up.
- You’re singin’ great. Your vocals stand up against what I’m hearing on the radio these days, especially the last song, “Funny Man,” which doesn’t have the comedy component.
- Well, I appreciate it. The last song, that “Funny Man” song . . . my brother-in-law, who is a great singer/songwriter, he wrote that song durin’ the time I was doin’ the television show and I was livin’ in Los Angeles away from my wife and kids. It was a two-year run, 12-hour days and spendin’ time in the writers’ room. My nights consisted of stoppin’ by Ralph’s and pickin’ up a rotisserie chicken. Goin’ home to the empty house.
- He sent me that song in an mp3. He had recorded it. It just described everything about what I was goin’ through at that time. It was such a meaningful song to me. I just never have limited myself in terms of what I do. Singin’ has always been a part of my show. And songs and writin’ comedy songs. Even during the time we did the sitcom, we had serious, heartfelt moments within the show. I do a combination of everything, but I like it all. It’s like in entertainment and tellin’ stories, whether it be through a song or a sitcom or a joke, if you can move people, whether you make ’em laugh or you make ’em cry . . . I enjoy all of that. I enjoy every bit of it.
- What was the writing process like with Toby on these songs?
- Oh yeah, we were at his house. During puttin’ together the movie and all the writin’ we were doin’ on that, we were sittin’ out by his big ridiculous Fantasy Island pool with a giant water slide smokin’ a cigar from another planet and drinkin’ a beer from Germany. I don’t know what it was.
- I can remember Toby goin’, “Rod, I can’t sing any of these songs in my show.” I put my hand on his hand and reassured him that it would not screw up my career if I sang ’em in mine! (big laugh) And so we had a lot of fun writin’ the movie, we had a lot of fun writin’ songs. It was just a great creative relationship. He’s a great guy and it was fun.
- Were there a lot of lyrics that’ll never see the light of day that got rejected?
- I think we tossed a few things out there just to make us both laugh. But ultimately I had explained to him what this record was about.
- After all these years of bein’ out on the road, no matter what I’ve done—whether some of the stuff in the standup has been clean, whether it be the Wal-Mart bit or another bit that’s a little more risqué—I’ve never, ever edited anything I’ve ever done. I’ve always felt, “Well, if it’s funny or entertaining or moving or this or that, and I liked it, then I stuck it out there.” But, for whatever reason, if people take a record, they want to pigeon hole . . . they want to pick out all the things you’ve ever done that they can really attack and . . . you’re that. “He’s just a blue comedian” and this and that. I do a little bit of everything, but they just pick that and that’s what they attack.
- But, even if it is, if you’re sellin’ a bunch of ’em and there’s three or four thousand people payin’ 50 bucks a ticket to come see you every night you’re out on the road, somethin’s right . . . and it really doesn’t matter. (chuckles)
- When I set out to do what I was doin’, I never thought I was gonna get everybody. I had this real simple plan. I said, “I just need a million people who really like me who are willin’ to put up 10 dollars a year for somethin’ I can make or produce, whether it be a ticket or a t-shirt or a CD or a book or a hat or beef jerky or whatever it be. I’m gonna go out and find the people who like what it is I do.” And that’s what I did.
- It was just, “I need somebody who likes my shoes I’m makin’.” I just treated it like a business. When I went out on the road, I never thought I was gonna get everybody. I ain’t ever gonna get everybody. Some people like Chris Rock. Some people like Ron White, Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall or Larry the Cable Guy or whatever. I never pretended I was gonna get everybody.
- But there shouldn’t be anybody surprised now by anything you do when they come to see you.
- Oh, no. After 20 years of bein’ out here, people who come in and buy a ticket know what they’re gettin’. And that’s the way I like it. My favorite part of the business is that personal exchange. The people make a decision to want to come see me and I show up and do what I do. And they get to laughin’ and then we all say good night and see you next time. That’s my favorite part of the business. The unknowns in that scenario are gone. You’re sharin’ somethin’ with people who want to be there to share it with you.
- I love “Best You’ll Do Tonight” That exchange of power that takes place.
- It’s one of those things . . . me and my good friend Mark Gross wrote that song together and that was a really fun song. I thought it was just a good song. It wasn’t necessarily all that funny, it was more kind of a cute turn in the song. You think you’re gonna get one thing and you actually end up gettin’ another. I like that song, too. I actually listened to the whole record yesterday drivin’ home from the golf course, after bein’ away from it (the record) for quite some time. I really like it. It’s fun.
For more from Rodney, go to the July 13 issue of Country Weekly.