Of all the songs in the Cadillac Three’s arsenal — including those they’ve written for artists like Tim McGraw and Jake Owen — few get as rapturous a response as “The South.” A celebration of one’s roots, in this case those below the Mason-Dixon, the song has become the trio’s signature, with singer Jaren Johnston leading crowds from the Deep South to the U.K. in its refrain: “This is where I was born and this is where I’ll die.”
“The South” appears on the Cadillac Three’s new album, Bury Me in My Boots, out tomorrow, August 5th. That studio version includes an all-star cast of backing vocalists: Dierks Bentley, Florida Georgia Line and Mike Eli of Eli Young Band all harmonize during the “this is where I was born” breakdown. But in this special live performance filmed at Abbey Road Studios in London, it’s just Johnston, steel player Kelby Ray and drummer Neil Mason.
Here, “The South” is performed without an audience — the band members face one another in a semi-circle — but Johnston says that overseas audiences regularly connect with the sentiment. Even if they don’t exactly get all of the lyrical references or phrases the Nashville-born band drops onstage.
“They get ‘Hell yeah,’ and ‘We’re the Cadillac Three from Nashville, Tennessee,’ but they don’t get where Nashville is, or the South,” he tells Rolling Stone Country. “If I do any interviews over there, the first question is always, ‘So, what is the South?’ Do you know how hard it is answer that question?”
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The Cadillac Three are currently on the road with Florida Georgia Line, opening FGL’s Dig Your Roots Tour. They’ll return to Europe in November for an extensive tour of England, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain.