Pack a solid pair of headphones, a menagerie of long movies and one of those cushy neck pillows. It’s gonna be a long but worthwhile flight to Australia, buddy.
But Young is already aware of this fact. His newly-announced A.M. World Tour, which will include stops in Sydney and Ipswich for the CMC Rocks the Hunter Festival next year, won’t be his first visit there, but it will mark his first visit to the fantastic city of Melbourne.
And as a fairly recent visitor to Melbourne, I’m giddy to share a few tourist tips with him.
Earlier this year, I took a lust-for-life “self-discovery” holiday to Victoria’s capital city, and it’s a million wonders I managed to find my way back to the States, honestly.
From the thriving and eclectic music scene to the insanely divine international cuisine to the incredibly warm and open people, it was truly the trip of a lifetime.
And yes, Chris, I know this is a work trip for you, and you will be focused on bringing your Aussie fans the best show you can deliver. But if you can, try not to miss out on the opportunity to experience the following:
City Arcades: In the heart of downtown Melbourne are outdoor shops, restaurants and street vendors housed on stone streets and in narrow alleyways that are absolutely charming. Grab lunch on a second floor cafe patio, and watch the street musicians and pedestrians bustling below you. And pick up some whiskey-infused chocolate from Koko Black while you are there. A taste of home!
Coffee: Aussies take their coffee very seriously … and for good reason. It may be the best coffee in the world. And everyone is a connoisseur. Whether you’re an investment banker or a Bohemian musician, you’ve got a full-blown espresso machine in your Melbourne home and know how to use it. If you’re a bean enthusiast, Chris, and are out and about, stop a local and ask them where they go and how they take their cup of Joe. And if you aren’t into coffee, there’s always the beer.
Cuisine: Two words — meat pie. An Aussie staple and a must-try. And they’re everywhere, so pop in to any shop and order one upon arrival. Authentic Thai, Vietnamese, Greek … you can eat your way through this city without blinking.
Local Music: The Melbourne music scene is so diverse and thriving. And they love country music, too. Each record store I visited boasted a well-rounded sampling of our finest artists. From Steve Earle and Emmylou Harris to Dolly Parton and Blake Shelton, everyone was represented.
The Locals: It’s true. Aussies are the greatest people on the planet. A prime example is Keith Urban. Heck, they’re so lovable, my best friend here in Nashville married one. (Smart girl!) You will not find a more openhearted, warm, laid-back and inviting culture. Do yourself a favor and make a new friend while you’re there. They’ll be a friend for life.
As he globe-trots, Young will also hit London and Dublin for the second time while also hitting a two-night run in Switzerland and making inaugural stops in Germany for dates in Munich, Cologne and Berlin.
- 2013, Kenny Rogers, Bobby Bare and songwriter/producer Jack Clement are officially inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville
– 2007, Kenny Chesney locks in a #1 single on the Billboard country chart with “Don’t Blink”
– 2004, Florence County, South Carolina, celebrates Josh Turner Day when the local native performs at the Florence Civic Center
– 1991, Jimmy Dean marries Donna Meade at Dean’s home near Richmond, Virginia. Ralph Emery is best man
- 2011, Taylor Swift welcomes a surprise guest, Shawn Colvin, to sing “Sunny Came Home” during a concert at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin
– 2005, Brooks & Dunn shoot the video to “Believe” in Adams, Tennessee
– 2002, The Statler Brothers head into retirement, playing their final date as a touring act at the Salem Civic Center in Virginia. Their last song: “Amazing Grace”
– 1999, MCA releases Gary Allan’s “Smoke Rings In The Dark” album
- 2010, Big Machine releases Taylor Swift’s album “Speak Now”
– 2007, Hank Williams Jr. is honored in a “CMT Giants” concert shot at Los Angeles’ Gibson Amphitheatre. Guests include Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw, Kid Rock, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Toby Keith, Steven Tyler, Gretchen Wilson, Buddy Guy and Terry Bradshaw
– 2003, Gary Allan takes the top spot in Billboard with “Tough Little Boys”
– 1997, Tim McGraw’s “Everywhere” travels to #1 in Billboard
- 2012, Randy Travis and The Avett Brothers shoot an installment of “CMT Crossroads” at The Factory in Franklin, Tennessee. The set list includes “Three Wooden Crosses,” “Diggin’ Up Bones,” “Deeper Than The Holler” and “Forever And Ever, Amen”
– 2006, Trace Adkins performs the national anthem before Game 3 of the World Series, and Jo Dee Messina delivers “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium. The Cardinals defeat the Detroit Tigers, 5-0
– 2002, LeAnn Rimes sings the national anthem prior to Game 5 of the World Series at San Francisco’s Pac Bell Park, where the Giants stomp the Anaheim Angels, 16-4
– 1991, Garth Brooks’ “No Fences” is the first country album certified for shipments of more than 5 million copies
- 2010, Blake Shelton becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. For his big night, he performs “All About Tonight,” “She Wouldn’t Be Gone” and “Home” and duets with Trace Adkins on “Hillbilly Bone”
– 2004, George Strait’s “I Hate Everything” takes a seat at #1 in Billboard
– 1996, Buck Owens opens his Crystal Palace, a club in Bakersfield, California
– 1992, Roy Acuff performs on both shows at the Grand Ole Opry. It proves to be his final appearance on the program
- 2012, Big Machine releases the Taylor Swift album “Red”
– 2006, Little Big Town backs John Mellencamp’s performance of “Our Country” before Game 2 of the World Series at Detroit’s Comerica Park. Josh Gracin sings “God Bless America” during the seventh inning as the Tigers beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 3-1
– 1990, Tim McGraw signs a recording contract with Curb Records
– 1966, Eddy Arnold, music publisher Jim Denny, Grand Ole Opry founder George D. Hay and Uncle Dave Macon are added to the Country Music Hall Of Fame, with the proceedings airing on ABC-TV’s “The Jimmy Dean Show”
Co-Writer Chris DeStefano Says She Gave Him Chill Bumps
That’s when Chris DeStefano came in with a musical idea, and Underwood came in with a big idea. It was, as DeStefano describes it, “the perfect write.”
“I played Carrie and Brett (James) this music, and Carrie was immediately like, ‘I’ve got this title and concept I’ve been wanting to write,” DeStefano told me of the day the three wrote Underwood’s latest hit, “Something in the Water.”
“I remember it like it was yesterday, getting chill bumps when she said that title,” he said. “It felt so right with the music.”
He said anytime he’s writing with Underwood, he likes to go in with ideas, but she’s usually the one who brings her best. And DeStefano loves to build on those.
“Going into a session, you never know what you’ll write,” he said. “That’s what’s so exciting. It’s like riding a wave. You all kind of get on this wave together and just roll with it. It’s almost like you can’t think about it too much.”
And that day, the wave took them on a ride the songwriters knew was special.
“By end of that day, we were cranking it up on the speakers and had our hands in the air. We definitely went to church that day. I can’t tell you how many times it brought me to tears,” he admitted. “Countless times. Just constantly. It’s such a powerful thing.”
We compared our favorite lyrics. Mine are, “Got joy in my heart, angels on my side,” and his are, “Got washed in the water, washed in the blood.”
“I’m getting chill bumps just talking about it,” DeStefano. “Each line lifts me up higher and higher.”
I remember seeing Underwood’s songwriting haven on TV when she gave Oprah Winfrey a tour of it. It was built in the 1800s and has been lovingly restored. It has plenty of religious touches all around. Like wooden plaques that say things like, “As for me and my ranch, we will serve the Lord” and “Nothing but the blood of Jesus (Romans 3:25).”
DeStefano probably felt that.
“With a song like that, there was so much at work in the room — beyond the three of us — that we all kind of knew it,” he said.
It sounds like there must have been something in the cabin.
- 2012, Garth Brooks, Connie Smith and session keyboard player Hargus “Pig” Robbins officially join the Country Music Hall of Fame during a medallion ceremony in Nashville
– 2004, Toby Keith receives his second quadruple-platinum album, for “Shock’n Y’all”
– 1999, The Dixie Chicks’ “Wide Open Spaces” album reaches 8 million in shipments
– 1987, Exactly six months after its release, Dwight Yoakam’s “Hillbilly Deluxe” is recognized with a gold album
But for Yearwood, the show sounds like it hits very close to home.
Think about it. She and the show’s leading lady and fictional country star Rayna James have so much in common. They both thrived in the ’90s. They are both pining for the days when female singers were holding the door open for other female singers. They both have gorgeous hair. They both spend a lot of time in their gourmet kitchens. And they both are in love with powerhouse country superstar singers.
In Rayna’s case, it’s Luke Wheeler. (Ruke, as the couple’s been dubbed.)
In Yearwood’s case, it’s Garth Brooks. (Trarth? Gisha?)
Anyway, for all those reasons and more, the show feels really real to her.
“I really identify with Rayna being her age,” Yearwood recently told ABC News Radio. “I mean, I’m older than her, but I kind of identify with that character a lot and just the things she goes through and how the odds are kind of against her and all that.”
As for Rayna’s love affair with Luke, who has children from a previous marriage, Yearwood thinks the plotline sounds familiar, too.
“The thing with her and Luke, a little bit of it is like, ‘I know it’s not about us, but … it’s interesting,” she said.