For Frankie Ballard’s third single off his hit album Sunshine & Whiskey, the Michigan singer-guitarist decided to seize the moment. He’d been riding high on back-to-back Number Ones in “Helluva Life” and “Sunshine & Whiskey,” and wanted to release something that reflected his “live now” worldview. Ballard settled on the uptempo rocker “Young and Crazy,” which he describes as a “call to action.”
“I see so many people living in a bubble. They want to be safe, they want their kids to be safe and they want their friends to be safe. And I get that. That’s awesome and really admirable,” Ballard tells Rolling Stone Country. “But life is not about who gets out the cleanest at the end, or who’s the most well-preserved and healthiest. I refuse to believe that is what life is about — life is about living.”
The lyrics of “Young and Crazy,” written by Rhett Akins, Ashley Gorley and Shane McAnally, speak to that belief. With lines like “I want to sit out on the porch telling stories of my glory days when I’m pushing 80,” the song doesn’t look back in nostalgia, but anticipates a well-seasoned future.
“The best times I’ve ever had and the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned were when my feet were out over the edge of the line and I was at risk of getting a little beat up, physically and emotionally,” Ballard says. “That’s what I hope people take from this song. I hope they hear it and go, ‘I’m going to interview for this job’ or ‘I’m going to move to L.A. I’m going to build this motorcycle that I always wanted to build. I’m going to fucking do it.'”
For the video, directed by Glen Rose, Ballard put his live show into focus. While previous videos featured the guitarist performing, none were authentic concert experiences. With “Young and Crazy,” Ballard, who is currently on the road with Florida Georgia Line, was filmed onstage over three nights in his native Midwest.
“There were performance pieces in the other videos, but not real performance pieces. They weren’t plugged in. But this is us actually playing those songs, so those emotions are real,” he says. Like the song itself, he hopes the clip serves as inspiration for people to leave the house and experience the world. Or at least one of his concerts. “Hopefully, they look at this video and go, ‘That looks like a lot of fun. I want to see those guys live.'”
Ballard is practicing what he’s preaching too. For his next album, he reveals that he’ll be leaving the comfortable — some might say safe —confines of Nashville’s studios for a facility farther south. For 10 days, he and his band will hole up in an undisclosed studio to write and record the way his heroes did.
“We’re going off-campus. This follow-up to Sunshine & Whiskey is very important to my career, so at a time like this to do something weird is risky,” admits Ballard, turning suddenly animated. “But it makes me feel alive, man! We’re going to go in with nothing and we’re going to come out with an album. And that’s the way all my favorite albums were made. You slept at the studio — we’re going to do that. If we feel like putting down some guitars at two in the morning, we will.”
Through the prism of “Young and Crazy,” Ballard’s roll-the-dice approach to recording makes perfect sense. It’s keeping in line with that carpe diem attitude.
“It’s all or nothing, man,” he says. “But I want to record under those conditions. I know for a fact that it’s going to make the music better. I’m chomping at the bit for that red light to flash.”