From September through December SI will be speaking to musicians of all genres about the intersection of music and sports.
This week, SI sits down with Chris Young, country music superstar and Dallas Cowboys superfan.
SI: For some of our readers who may not be familiar with your music, let’s start by having you describe yourself as an artist in a few words.
CY: I’m just a singer songwriter, and counting this record, a producer. If anybody is trying to figure out who I am, the first single off the new record, “I’m Comin’ Over” is a pretty good indictor of what my music sounds like.
SI: You just announced that your fifth studio album— I’m Comin’ Over—will launch on November 13. What can fans expect from your newest work?
CY: The single is indicative of what the rest of the album sounds like. Beyond just the music we cut, it’s also so much about the way we cut it. Going in with Corey Crowder was such a treat. I think that had a lot to do with the way we cut it and the tone we created. I think people are going to have a lot to dig into with this album. We’re doing stuff I’ve never done before. On this album we’ve got a duet with Cassadee Pope, too. In fact, we went over to Vince Gill’s studio and Vince plays on the album. It’s so much more than one single.
SI: We also know your 14-city tour is set to kick off on October 22 in Savannah, Ga. Is there anywhere on your itinerary that you’re particularly amped to play?
CY: I always love playing in Nashville. I think we’re ending in Green Bay, which is going to be really cool. Early on just seeing how ticket sales are going, I’m really happy and excited for it. I’ll be out there taking openers Eric Paslay and Clare Dunn for almost all the dates, which is great because I’ve known them a long time. Eric and I even went to college together. When I called him we were laughing about playing together again.
SI: If you could break into any other genre of music, which one would you choose? Or would you stick to your roots in country?
CY: I would probably stick with country. But if I had to choose, I actually did a lot of jazz growing up. We played at the Apollo and I just love jazz music.
SI: Let’s switch gears and talk about sports. Did you grow up loving to play anything?
CY: When I was growing up we didn’t have the [Tennessee] Titans so it was like just pick a team near you. I was always a diehard Cowboys fan.
SI: A little birdie told us that you loved the Cowboys and you were recently able to attend a day of Cowboys' training camp. How was the experience? Do you feel optimistic about your team’s season?
CY: It was awesome. First of all, they walked us over at the end and asked if we wanted jerseys. I denied it once, but when they offered again, I was like, ‘I’d love one of everything.’ You can’t deny that kind of swag twice. And getting to stand on the sidelines and see some of the players up close and see how everyone looks was great. With all the stuff going on with the Rams, that was really a big group of people for a normal day of training camp. Toward the end I even got to go around and go hang with Jason Witten. I’m a huge fan of his.
[On being optimistic for the season:] You have to think that if you’re a fan. Actually breaking it down and looking at how they’ve added depth behind [Joseph] Randle, they’re such a strong team. It’s arguably the best offensive line in pro football. Then on the defensive end with [Randy] Gregory looking really good, I think we’re going to be a force this year.
SI: Do you have any other favorite teams? Players? Coaches?
CY: I’ve randomly become buddies with Chase Headley of the Yankees. So when I’m in New York, we try to always go check them out. I didn’t follow hockey as a kid but once Nashville got the Predators, that was my first reason to get into the sport. I always become a fan by going and watching a sport live.
SI: Is there one player in all of sports right now that stands out to you as the best of his or her generation?
CY: Lebron is the player who you compare to Jordan. So once you start comparing one player to that guy, whether its arguing for or against it, if that’s the one name that keeps coming up, that’s another level of sports talk.
SI: What’s your most memorable sporting memory?
CY: My teams are kind of all over the place. I was actually living in Texas and watching the game go down when the Longhorns won the [NCAA football] championship. And the bar I was working at during the time was a huge bar, and when they won I was in the middle of a crowd of people and the band had just kicked off and they couldn’t find me. I popped up on stage and was like ‘Sorry! Just been celebrating too much!’
SI: If you could go back in history and attend one sporting event, which one would it be?
CY: If I’m going to say I’m a Cowboys fan, you have to choose any of those years with the ‘Triplets' [Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith]. Just being able to see Emmitt Smith on the field would be so amazing.
SI: Lastly, do you ever get a chance to connect your love of music and sports? Is there one game at which you’d kill to play a pre-show, halftime, etc.?
CY: Obviously I think there’s overlap, going back to when I’ve sung the anthem for games or anything like that. In terms of actually playing, we played Dega [Talladega Superspeedway] in the infield after a NASCAR race, which is a lot of fun for me. The pinnacle for me is of course the halftime at the Super Bowl. And as long as it was the Cowboys against someone else, I wouldn’t really care who else was playing!