Country Spotlight: David Nail: Let Him Reign

January 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm , by

Photo: David McClister.

After occupying the country radio charts for a marathon 48-week stint, David Nail has finally been rewarded with his first, well-deserved number-one song: “Let It Rain,” the first single off of his The Sound of a Million Dreams CD. Now that he’s top of the heap, though, don’t expect him to lose the perspective he’s been given on his rise to that position. “There have been a lot of times over the course of my career that it didn’t look like I’d be able to make a record, much less have two out and get to travel the country and tour with people,” the Missouri native told me on a recent visit to the Journal. “My short-term and long-term goals are always one in the same. I hope to do something today that allows me a tomorrow. I hope to do something this year that allows me another year. I do not take things for granted.”

Case in point was his reaction to his Grammy nod last year for his vocals on “Turning Home,” off of 2009’s I’m About to Come Alive. “I can’t remember anything in my life being more unexpected,” Nail says of the moment he got the call about his nomination in the Best Male Country Vocal category. “It was just a whirlwind. I remember literally dropping to my knees and just being overcome with surprise and emotion. I kind of teared up a little bit, went and hugged my wife and said, ‘Baby, I’ve spent a long time trying to get people to like what I do. And evidently the people in this town like what I do.’ ”

Hear Nail sing three stripped-down songs for the LHJ staff after the jump.

His fans across the country aren’t complaining much, either. If you follow him on Twitter you’ll see that he not only talks the talk, he (excuse the word and phrase play) twalks the twalk of gratitude by maintaining one of the most engaging and appreciative conversations with his supporters—the Nail Nation—of any artist through that medium. Entertaining proof of this came when someone recently pondered about whether Nail himself actually signs the promo CDs that go out. Nail, in turn, tweeted back a photo of the stacks he was signing at that very moment as he watched TV, no doubt doubly endearing himself to anyone who might have been having the same doubts. (The bonus, by the way, of following Nail on Twitter is that you’ll get such in-depth college and pro sports analysis that by sheer osmosis you’ll be qualified for most on-air positions at ESPN.)

So, with a killer voice, his first number-one under his belt, a nation of loyal fans and a second album chock full of high-charting potential, Nail seems poised to make Nashville’s all-star team in 2012. That turns to speculation over what the follow-up single to “Let It Rain” will be, so in an homage to Nail’s athletic leanings (and, well, because I’m a dork) I couldn’t help but create my own next-single sports bracket for what I’m thinking/hoping for in terms of his second release. Check my brackets out after the jump and let me know if you agree. You’ll also find the video of Nail’s in-office LHJ performance after the jump, as well as to his takes on everything from where he fits into the current Nashville music scene and what charitable effort he’s passionate about, to why Taylor Swift reminds him of Garth Brooks, and more.

Here’s my dream next-single-release bracket for Nail’s follow-up single to “Let It Rain.” What’s your dream bracket look like?

On whether he was concerned about backlash from female fans over the cheating subject matter of TSOAMD’s first single, “Let It Rain” …
Man, people definitely questioned whether or not it was a good idea. I think at the end of the day, it’s not like this is the first cheating song ever to be written or recorded. You know, I’d like to think that at least in this guy’s position, he’s not running away from the guilt. He’s more or less saying, whatever it is that I need to go through, experience or whatever it’s going to take, I’m willing to go to that extreme to prove that I’m remorseful.

On not having a rough-hewn sound or image in the good ol’ boys’ club of Nashville …
With me, a guy by the name of Glen Campbell has always been a huge influence on me and he was every bit in real life an outlaw that maybe the supposed outlaws were, but his sound was a little different. I think there’s a place for everybody. I feel like [the other artists] respect and appreciate what I do. I was an athlete for a long time and I’m competitive in that regard, but it’s really hard for me personality wise to feel that pressure or whatever against somebody else. I think we all recognize how difficult it is and we all kind of have a sense of respect for everyone’s path.

On differences between TSOAMD and 2009’s I’m About to Come Alive
I really have tried to trust my gut and trust my instincts. I feel like I have a fairly good ear for music and I think people have grown to expect a certain kind of music from me—not that I want to stay in that place, by any means. I always want to grow. I think with this record that we kind of said okay, here’s a little bit of the old record, but we want to kinda pique your curiosity even more so.

On how Lee Ann Womack lent a woman’s touch to the album’s “Songs for Sale” …
It was hilarious. Lee Ann’s married to my producer [Frank Liddell] and we were at their house working out some of the arrangements of the songs. Lee Ann wasn’t in the room but I guess she could hear from upstairs. When Frank ran up to grab a pen or print something off or something, Lee Ann “suggested” that we sing the song in the first key and not the key that we had sung it the last two times. So Frank came down and let that be known. Everybody in the room kinda had a chuckle and the rest of the day we all carried on as if we knew Lee Ann was upstairs listening. When I called her out on it, I said, “You know, you should definitely get your name on the record in the producer credits.” I later asked her to be a part of it and it just kind of all made the story a little better, the fact that she ended up singing on the song.

On his introduction to Twitter …
I can remember my management at the record label begging me to get involved with this thing called Twitter and I thought, that’s so ridiculous. Who cares that I’m eating lunch at Arby’s right now? But then, I mean, I’ve never done drugs but it just became addicting like a drug. It’s a lot like radio. You’ve got this microphone, you’ve got this outlet. You can’t really see any of the people that you’re talking to but you know that there are people out there who are reading.

On Twitter’s pitfalls …
I’m a big sports fan so I’ll make comments that people will just take so personally and you try to explain to them that it’s not personal, that it’s just, hey I’m a fan of this team and you’re a fan of that team, it’s okay for us to disagree with this. It’s not life or death. I’m not talking about your family. But the more you try to explain it, the more fired up they get and the more they hate you! I think it’s a brilliant avenue to share news with people. I’m amazed that people will come on Twitter and ask what time the show is tonight or where I’m playing in this city. It’d be so simple for you to go to the website and see because I can’t answer every single person, or I will answer it and four hours later someone will ask me again.

On how he controls his Twitter habit …
I’m addicted to it. But my wife is not crazy about getting too personal and I definitely am not supposed to tweet when I’m with her, eating dinner or spending time with her. I’ve tried to learn to keep some kind of balance.

On what he learned from touring with Taylor Swift this past fall …
I learned that somebody can sit up there at 21 years old and have 25,000 people in the palm of her hand. And that in reality if she told them all to go to the bathroom, they’d all go to the bathroom. If she told them all to go buy popcorn, they’d go buy popcorn. I’ve obviously not gotten to that point in my career where I can affect that many people. It’s been a long time since this guy’s played and I was 16 or 17 years old the last time I went and saw him, but the only person I’ve seen even remotely close to it is Garth [Brooks]. To have that many people almost in a trance. Fixated on her. Her work ethic and how much control she has over every tiny little detail definitely humbles you and makes you feel like you’re pretty worthless.

On the Payton Wright Foundation—which raises funds and awareness for pediatric brain cancer—an organization that he’s been involved with since 2006 …
You start talking about kids dying … it’s so sad to talk about. But that’s kind of the route that the Payton Wright Foundation takes: Hey, you’re damn straight it ain’t positive. But we’re never gonna have the ability to put an end to it if we don’t raise awareness and tell people about how this affects not only the child going through it but the family. And [Holly and Patrick Wright, who lost their 5-year-old daughter Payton in May 2007] are brilliant people. The amount of energy and strength it must take after going through something like that—to wake up every day and let that be your absolute primary focus is just … that’s why I love following [Patrick] on Twitter. I’ll be having the worst day and I’ll be complaining about something so minute, and then I’ll see a tweet by him and it makes you feel like … I mean, you think your day is bad, but …

On sightseeing at the World Trade Center memorial while in New York City …
The first time I ever came to New York was 6 months to the day [after September 11]. I can remember as we were flying in that day, and I was 21 years old, I just got this anger and this sadness built up because suddenly 6 months later it seemed real to me. I felt like I had been cheated out of an opportunity. So yesterday to go down there and just see it, it was beautiful. And you just sit there kind of flashing back. I think that it is one of the coolest things I ever experienced. I found myself watching other people who were looking for names. They have people out there with these little handheld things that guide you to where your relative is and you would see all these little flowers stuck in the names. A couple people tweeted me back saying, “I can remember that day when my husband didn’t come home,” and it just hits you like a ton of bricks.

10 Responses to “Country Spotlight: David Nail: Let Him Reign”

  1. [...] Check out David’s performance of three stripped-down songs for the Ladies Home Journal staff. You can read the rest of the interview here. [...]

  2. [...] every tiny little detail definitely humbles you and makes you feel like you’re pretty worthless. ● – – David Nail on Taylor Swift’s command of her [...]

  3. [...] a record, much less have two out and get to travel the country and tour with people," David tells Ladies Home Journal. "My short-term and long-term goals are always one in the same. I hope to do something today that [...]

  4. [...] so ridiculous. Who cares that I’m eating lunch at Arby’s right now?” the singer tells Ladies Home Journal with a laugh.  “But it just became addicting like a [...]

  5. [...] much less have two out and get to travel the country and tour with people,” David recently told Ladies’ Home Journal.  “My short-term and long-term goals are always one in the same. I hope to do something today [...]

  6. [...] much less have two out and get to travel the country and tour with people,” David recently told Ladies’ Home Journal.  “My short-term and long-term goals are always one in the same. I hope to do something today [...]

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