Oklahoma native Travis Linville’s love of music was ignited as a small child on the built-in stage in his grandparents’ music room, and since then, his thirty-something years of sweat equity have cemented him as “one of the most sought-after songwriters and collaborators in the Sooner State and beyond” (Wide Open Country) and “the Godfather of modern Oklahoma folk” (Oklahoma Gazette).
Fellow Oklahoman JD McPherson, who released one of the best roots albums of 2017 according to Rolling Stone Country, Guitar World, American Songwriter, Garden & Gun, and more, recollects,
“Growing up in Oklahoma, Travis was known everywhere as one of the most respected musicians and performers from a very large pool of talent.”
When it came time to record his new solo album,
I’m Still Here, Linville tapped McPherson to produce the project. Together they wove together a collection of contributions that highlight, in McPherson’s words, the “fantastic songs and consummate musicianship” for which Linville is known. One such contribution, premiering today exclusively on Cowboy Lifestyle Network, finds him paying homage to Willie Nelson while trading verses with longtime collaborator Hayes Carll and joined by friends and Tulsans John Fullbright and Jacob Tovar on the chorus.
The decision to include a Willie Nelson cover among a 10-song set of otherwise original songs was not fleeting. “When I was young, Willie Nelson was my musical hero,” says Linville. “I patterned everything about who I wanted to be as a musician after him. I think it’s unfortunate that modern culture puts him in the world of ‘weed memes.’ To me he is an incredible singer, songwriter, guitarist and humanitarian. By a huge stroke of luck, I played Willie’s 4th of July picnic in 1999 with country singer Claude Gray. While we were playing our early afternoon slot I heard the crowd roar and looked up to see Willie walking out onstage by surprise. I was 21 years old and onstage with my hero. I’ve done a whole lot of cool things since then but there will never be a moment like that. I was already playing music but that experience changed what I was doing. As soon as I got back to Oklahoma I started getting serious about making my own record of original songs and that’s what set me on the path I’m still on all these years later. Cutting this song is a full circle thing for me. I hope Willie likes it.”
It only seemed fitting to invite Carll to join him for this full circle moment, since the two of them have been sharing the stage for over fifteen years now. Carll, who most recently released his widely acclaimed sixth studio album
What It Is via Dualtone Records, has nothing but high praise for his friend and sideman:
“Travis is one of those rare artists that seem to be gifted at everything. His playing and singing appear to be just as natural as breathing to him. That ease has always stood out to me.”
“Yesterday’s Wine” is just one of many gems on
I’m Still Here, which releases this Friday, May 21, via Tulsa’s Black Mesa Records. The title track, a lament on the chasm between perception and reality, was penned in a single writing session with power songwriter Natalie Hemby, whose credits include songs for Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, Little Big Town, Blake Shelton, and Toby Keith, as well as her work in supergroup The Highwomen. Along with singles “ Feeling We Used To Know” and “ Blue Sky Bound,” it is already becoming a fan favorite at radio — landing the album on the Top 50 Americana Radio Chart ahead of release.