Exclusive: Joe Nichols Talks Returning To Traditional, Adding Country Spin To “Baby Got Back” On New Album

Joe Nichols performs acoustically for MusicRow.

Joe Nichols’ latest album for BBR Music Group/Red Bow Records, Never Gets Old, is aptly named. The project, which releases today (July 28) finds Nichols doing what he does best—wrapping his warm, welcoming baritone around evocative lyrics and traditional country melodies.

The new album balances stunners such as the comforting, romantic title track (produced by Brent Rowan), and the empathetic “We All Carry Something,” with more light-hearted fare including “I’ll Sing About You” and “So You’re Saying.” Nichols fans will recognize “Billy Graham’s Bible,” produced by Tony Brown and Mickey Jack Cones, from Nichols’ previous album, 2013’s Crickets.

During a visit to MusicRow, Nichols performed several tracks from the album, including “Tall Boys,” and “Diamonds Make Babies,” which astute country fans will remember from Dierks Bentley’s 2012 album Home.

Though there is a nearly four-year span between Crickets and Never Gets Old, it is not due to a lack of hard work. Nichols and producer Mickey Jack Cones undertook the arduous task of building, dismantling, and reconstructing the project until it presented a unified sound.

“We started working on this album about six months after Crickets was released,” Nichols says. “We started cutting different kinds of songs, progressive stuff similar to ‘Sunny & 75’ and then some traditional stuff.”

Joe Nichols with MusicRow owner/publisher Sherod Robertson. Photo: Haley Crow/MusicRow

Once Nichols and Cones were nearly eight cuts into the making of the album, they realized some songs were leaning more progressive, while others harkened back to the more staunchly traditional songs found on Nichols’ earliest albums.

“We decided this needs to be a country record,” Nichols says. “It feels like the country music climate is shifting back toward accepting traditional country more than it had been, so as we cut away some of the more progressive stuff that we had already spent a lot of time on, we had to go back and record more country stuff.”

Nichols and company were still in the process of listening to, selecting, and recording new songs for the album in mid-2017. Some of the last songs to make the album, “Diamonds Make Babies” and the title track, were recorded in May.

“It was a quick turnaround on those,” says Nichols, who notes the song selection process for Never Gets Old resembles the one he went through for his 2002 album Man With A Memory, which yielded hits such as “The Impossible” and “Brokenheartsville.”

While Never Gets Old might be one of Nichols’ most traditional-leaning albums to date, listeners might do a double-take upon hearing the album’s closer, Nichols’ countrified revamp of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s 1992 hit “Baby Got Back,” which topped the Billboard Hot 100.

The song has been part of Nichols’ live show for a few years, and began as a joke on his band members.

Joe Nichols with MusicRow staffers.

“I thought it would be funny,” Nichols says. “During my shows, I would do a song or two by myself on acoustic guitar. I thought it would be funny to do a joke on the band, cause sometimes they would come join me on the last song of that short set list. So to mess with them, I started singing ‘I like big butts and I cannot lie,’ really country, but they played right along, so the joke was on me. I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’ve got to act like I know the song.’”

Fans and the band took to the twangy remix, so Nichols and his band added the song as a standalone in his set, before deciding to add it to the album, along with hilarious improvisations from comedian Darren Knight, who brings his popular “Southern Mama” character to the track.

“He’s so funny,” Nichols says. “He made it more ridiculous, just icing on the cake.”

Nichols’ rendition of “Baby Got Back” even earned Sir Mix-a-Lot’s stamp of approval.

“We met with Sir Mix-a-Lot last week actually, and he’s a really cool guy. He said, ‘I love this version of the song, and the reason is because it’s your song. You took it and covered it nothing like me so I respect it because you basically just used the words.’ I thought that was a really cool compliment.”

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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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