How many songwriters would refer to John Steinbeck,

By PAULETTE FLOWERS Published:

How many songwriters would refer to John Steinbeck, the great British politician Benjamin Disraeli and the fact that Mike Nesmith's (of The Monkees) mom invented typewriter correction fluid when discussing where the ideas for their new songs came from? Well, I know one Radney Foster.

Maybe you don't know it, but you hear Radney's songs all the time. He wrote Keith Urban's "Raining on Sunday," Sara Evans' "A Real Fine Place to Start" and the Dixie Chicks' "Godspeed," as well as hits for Kenny Chesney and Brooks & Dunn.

But Radney's been making hits of his own ever since the days when he was teamed with Bill Lloyd as Foster and Lloyd. In fact, he's been writing songs since he was 7 years old. "Little did my mother know that it would haunt her son for the rest of his natural life," he says.

Foster and Lloyd released three groundbreaking albums and had hit singles like "Crazy Over You," "Sure Thing," "What Do You Want From Me This Time?" and "Fair Shake." And, like The Velvet Underground, while not a lot of people bought the band's records, practically everyone who did started a band of his or her own.

Since going solo in 1992, Radney has released several albums that have produced several hits. Now, on his third album for Dualtone Music, Radney has again proved himself both a master songwriter and a master singer. The album, "This World We Live In," already has zoomed to No. 8 on Billboard's Americana chart.

You might already have heard the first single, "Prove Me Right," an upbeat roadhouse rocker that pulls out all the stops. Another cut that radio has picked up is "Drunk on Love," which at first listen sounds just too soppy until you pick up that Radney's really poking a little fun at how goofy love makes folks.

"The Kindness of Strangers" (the "John Steinbeck song") is a seriously sad but ultimately hopeful tune about strangers helping each other when the chips are down. A famous Disraeli quote inspired "Half of My Mistakes" (Disraeli said, "Half of my mistakes were from being impetuous, and the other half were from being reticent").

Only Radney and his producer, Darrell Brown, could come up with a song that has lines about Elvis, Buck Owens, Harry Potter, MP3s, nuclear fission and white-out! But that's just what "Big Idea" does.

Finally, the closing song, "Never Gonna Fly," was inspired by all the people in Radney's life who told him that a career as a singer/songwriter was "never gonna fly." "This World We Live In" again proves just how wrong they were.

QUIBBLES 'N BITS

Sneaky Trees Dept.: While Craig Morgan was racing his motorcycle in the Mid-South Hare Scramble Series in Bucksnort, Tenn. (yes, Virginia, there really is a Bucksnort), a tree root jumped right onto the racetrack in front of him, causing Craig to be thrown into a tree. But ironman Craig got up and finished the race before going to a nearby hospital and finding out he had a mild concussion and a broken wrist. After leaving the hospital, Craig proceeded to a big radio station's birthday party at the Gaylord Entertainment Center!

Wayward Wind Dept.: As you've no doubt heard, Tennessee has been hit by a lot of tornadoes lately. On April 7, we had several tornadoes right near Nashville. An F3 put down on the outskirts of Hendersonville and plowed its way for about 10 miles. One of the houses it took out was one of the state's oldest homes, built in 1786, which just happens to belong to Oak Ridge Boy William Lee Golden. Fortunately, William Lee, wife Brenda and son Solomon took cover in the basement and weren't injured. The same can't be said for many other residents of this area, including the 12 people who died.

Rough Cuts Quote of the Week: "It was something different for me. I've gotten a lot of awards over the years, and a lot of them have been given in joints. But this time it was a joint resolution." Ferlin Husky ("Wings of a Dove"), on being honored recently by the Tennessee State Senate and House of Representatives with a resolution noting his achievements as a singer, songwriter and actor.

I'd love to hear from you, so please write me at P.O. Box 121438, Nashville, TN 37212.

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