Live from Music Row Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed country artist John Rich to the newsmakers line.
During the third hour, Rich talked about the right to pursue happiness and having integrity as an American. He also discussed his Fox Nation show called The Pursuit and his recent hit song just released, Earth to God.
Leahy: We are joined now by our new good friend John Rich the great country Entertainer. Good morning John.
Rich: Hey, good morning, sir. How are you?
Leahy: We are delighted to have you on I guess you are as big a fan of Mayor John Cooper’s as we are.
Rich: I’ll he’s a peach. I tell you what. he brings the hits man. Yeah, I think we’ve all been thoroughly disappointed in his decision making. But you know, what are you going to do? That’s an election for you. But boy, we’ve learned a lot and you know, I don’t know. I think everything that’s been said about him has been said loudly and clearly. So I’m sure I don’t have any fans at the mayor’s office right now, but that’s okay. This not about being popular.
Leahy: John you have fans in our listening audience. That is for sure.
Rich: I’ll take it, man.
Leahy: John, you’re also a Fox News contributor. How did that come about?
Rich: Well, actually I’ve got a little show with them on Fox Nation called The Pursuit and it’s based on the idea that our country doesn’t guarantee us happiness, it guarantees us the right to pursue happiness. There’s a big difference between those two things. That word the right to pursue is everything. That is America. That’s why we’re us.
And I sit people down and interview them about their pursuit of happiness. one of the most incredible that I got on this show was the final on-camera interview with Charlie Daniels. God rest his soul. We lost him this past summer. And I got to ask him every question that I could think of that I would have wanted to ask him. And man what an incredible guy. There are interviews like that stacked up on that show if you get a chance, check it out The Pursuit with John Rich.
Carmichael: All right, that’s a very cool premise. And your and your point is exactly right. A government can guarantee the right to pursue happiness. It actually can’t metaphysically guarantee happiness. It can write the words but it can’t back up the guarantee.
Rich: Well and I think I think human beings innately are not happy f everything is given to him. That’s not what makes us happy. What makes us happy is having our own ideas and our own dreams. And we get to work at it as hard as we want to. And we may get it. We may not get it.
But the fact that we have a right to go after it should make us happy makes me happy. Makes me happy. There are people all over the planet this morning that woke up that has just as much talent and drive and ambition as any American ever had but because of where they live they’re not allowed to exhaust their potential. But we are because we live in America. And we’re given that as a right to pursue happiness. So my show puts an exclamation point on that and reminds us all hey, this is a great place to live take advantage of it.
Carmichael: And by the way, that right that you’re talking about is a God-given, right? It’s not a right that the government gives. the right to pursue happiness is one that only the government can unjustly take away.
Rich: Yes. It says endowed by our creator with a capital C.
Leahy: Exactly. Tell us John a little bit about your own Pursuit. Where are you from and how did you get to where you are right now? Well, I grew up in Amarillo, Texas, which is up in the Panhandle.
Leahy: Oh, I know Amarillo. I have driven through Amarillo.
Rich: Yeah. Most people drive through it. (Laughter)
Leahy: I had a great steak there. I know I remember I started our state place here, which is fabulous.
Rich: The Big Texan.
Leahy: Yeah, that’s where it was. Exactly right!
Rich: Yeah. It’s a 72-ounce steak. If you eat it within an hour, it’s free.
Leahy: I didn’t make it.
Rich: If you do it, you can end up in any heart attack.
Rich: I grew up there. My father is a Street Preacher prison preacher preached in the church’s small churches. You know grew up just pretty regular. I’m a high school graduate and nothing fancy there. But I was always told growing up that you know, John you’re not limited by anything.
Whatever you can think of is possible because you live in America. Go work hard. And from a young age, I was taught how to work hard. And that there are integrity and hard work. you know, whether it’s mowing your grass or working on a project or dreaming big there’s integrity in working hard. And so I just grew up knowing that.
And as time went by I’ve come to Tennessee and Nashville. I worked at Opryland USA back in my senior year of high school. That’s where I met the guys that started a band called Lone Star. And I rolled with those guys for several years.
Then I met this crazy guy big Kenny and here comes Big and Rich. and then now you’re down the road here and I’m doing I’m still doing Big & Rich, but I’m doing other things too. So it’s been quite a ride and we’re still on it. It’s incredible
Carmichael: When did music become part of your life?
Rich: From the very beginning. My dad plays guitar and sings is a really really good singer and he writes his own Gospel song. So I would watch my dad during the week working on a song like writing a song gospel song and Christian song.
And I would watch him sing it at church or sing it out in the street, you know to a crowd and then watch the crowd react and I was like wow that is incredible. I was watching him right that, you know, look at all these people responding to it. I think that’s where I understand that stood the power of music.
You know, I’ve said many times a blank sheet of paper and a pencil are probably the two most powerful things in the world. The Constitution started off as a blank sheet of paper. The Bible started off as a blank sheet of paper. Somebody had to be inspired and write something on that piece of paper.
And those things have changed the world. Changed our lives. And I look at songwriting like that that I could write something on this page that nobody will ever hear. Or I might write something on this page that really has some impact. You just never know. You got to stay in the game and keep creating and hopefully, something gets blessed along the way.
Carmichael: Now I’ve heard in songwriting that you come up with, I think they called a hook. A particular idea and then you build the song around that. Is that accurate with you?
Rich: I would say most of the time. You know, I’ve written all kinds of songs for all kinds of reasons. I’ve had artists come to me and say hey, would you write a song for me that says something about this subject. And I’ll say sure. I wrote Mississippi Girl for Faith Hill.
She said I want you to write a song that would only make sense if I sang it,. Like nobody else could even sing it that’s how personalized I want it to be if you can write one and so we wrote Mississippi Girl. It’s a long way from Star, Mississippi. I said was she’s the only one from Star, Mississippi. So I checked that box. (Leahy laughs)
I’ve written songs out of inspiration from people that I’ve met. I’ve written songs to make you laugh. Make you dance and make you think. It just depends on you know, what you’re trying to do songwriters in Nashville. They’re the best. I’ve had the privilege of working with the best and understanding what a craft that is. It’s something that you never totally master.
Carmichael: How many instruments can you play?
Rich: I play a couple pretty good and then I can mess around on a couple more. (Leahy laughs) You know, in Nashville man you better really know how to play something that you don’t call yourself a player.
Leahy: So yeah, exactly right
Rich: I can chop away at it and hang out with them, but I wouldn’t say I’m one of the best players in town John.
Leahy: John, let me ask you this you are known for your very conservative political views. Now within the entertainment industry here in Nashville, is there a mix of use our is it okay to be conservative? Or does everybody have to be a liberal?
Rich: Most of the entertainment business is run by liberals. There are some of them that really have disdain for somebody like myself. and then there are some of the liberals that love working with me. And those are that’s the real the way it really should be.
Hey, we totally disagree on all these subjects, however, we still like each other and we’ve got a project we’re working on. And let’s go make something happen. And to me, that’s really the way it ought to be. You know, when Mike Huckabee was asked to be on the CMA board for their charity arm to give instruments away and give music education away to underprivileged kids, they brought in Huckabee because he had worked with education systems in Arkansas.
He is a musician himself. Obviously connected to the people in the federal government for funding and things like that. And some of the folks on the CMA board ran him out. I mean, they just kicked him out. I’m like man, we can’t even work together for something like giving instruments away to kids? Are you kidding me? There are a few like that but there’s a lot I will say that that actually still will work with you and our fine people. We just disagree.
Leahy: John, will you come back again? And also join us, Ben Shapiro and The Daily Wire are coming to Nashville. We’re going to be holding a party for them, not on October 24th. They called us and said let’s do it in November. Will you join us for that?
Rich: You know don’t threaten me with a good time. (Leahy laughs) Did you guys know I had a song our today called Earth to God?
Leahy: Earth to God. We will make sure it crosses our radar. Okay, John Rich.
Rich: OK. It’s coming out today. Thanks, guys.
Leahy: John Rich’s new song Earth to God.
Listen to the full third hour here:
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