Over the past 12 years, Billy Currington has racked up seven No. 1 singles on the country charts. Hits like “Hey Girl,” “People Are Crazy,” “Let Me Down Easy” and “Pretty Good at Drinking Beer” have all become country anthems on stations across the nation.
It’s sweet revenge for a kid from Georgia who failed four years in a row at auditions for a song-and-dance routine at the Opryland theme park in Nashville.
“Finally, after the last year, the guy pulled me aside and said, ‘You’re a good singer, but, man, your dancing … It just ain’t gonna work.’ ”
Still getting the last laugh, before he plays the Sonoma County Fair on Aug. 5, the curly-headed, 40-year-old singer took a tour break in North Dakota to talk about fan mementos, song advice and his utter disdain for footwear:
Q: I’m guessing you’re not wearing shoes right now?
A: No, no way. But I will have to put them on in a few hours when I go for a run. About two months ago, I kinda learned my lesson. I went on a run at 2 in the afternoon and the pavement was super hot and, man, I just completely tore off the bottom of my feet.
Q: What’s it like playing shows barefoot?
A: I can feel the stage and the earth, so to speak, so much better. It’s a feeling of freedom. Then when I put shoes on, I feel like I stand still and don’t move much.
Q: What’s the weirdest thing a fan’s ever given you at a show?
A: Well, they throw their panties. They take them off right there and fling them up on stage.
Q: I noticed you sell “Let Me Down Easy” underwear on your website - they ever throw those up on stage?
A: Well, those they have to buy, but if we have time, we’ll sign them for them.
Q: What are you looking for in a demo when you’re looking for a new song to record?
A: I always close my eyes and pretend that I’m on stage singing that song right now. Is it gonna work with fans? Does the majority of the world feel this way? I had a roommate once, he was an older songwriter. His name was Frank Dycus. He wrote songs for George Strait and some of the older greats. He said, “If a song doesn’t make you wanna fight, make love, wanna laugh or wanna dance - then don’t record it, Billy.” He’s passed away, but those words still ring in my head.
Bay Area freelancer John Beck writes about entertainment for The Press Democrat. You can reach him at 280-8014 or firstname.lastname@example.org.