One of the key performance events during CRS (Country Radio Seminar), the annual gathering of radio- and music-industry professionals in Nashville, is the Universal Music Group luncheon at the Ryman Auditorium, where the label group’s roster takes the stage for short sets to introduce new singles or revisit classic favorites.
Vince Gill, who performed Tuesday in the midst of his 33rd CRS, is also celebrating 42 years of making records, and will release his latest LP, Down to My Last Bad Habit, on February 12th. But his plan to introduce radio programmers in attendance to the album’s first single, “Take Me Down,” was altered after Gill watched labelmate Chris Stapleton’s performance of “Either Way.”
“I felt like… standing over in the wings watching him sing may have been the first time some people have gotten to hear his voice,” Gill said. “It reminded me of what it must’ve been like the first time you heard George Jones sing.”
Inspired, Gill sang “Sad One Comin’ On (A Song for George),” his tribute to the late Jones. A tear-soaked country ballad, the song finds Gills crooning, “I’m drawn to the blue side/since the king of broken hearts died/I feel a sad one comin’ on.” The profoundly moving tune wraps up Down to My Last Bad Habit, and according to Gill, is the most country song on his new project.
Gill also told the Ryman crowd that the first radio airplay he received as a 17-year-old artist in his home state of Oklahoma instilled him with hope, even though the record was only a regional hit.
“I have never, ever lost sight of that hope in all the 42 years I’ve been making records,” he said. “I don’t think I ever really had much of an expectation of getting a record played, but I never doubted that I had hope that it would.”
All of the songs on Down to My Last Bad Habit were written or co-written by Gill. Little Big Town appear on “Take Me Down,” while Cam guests on “I’ll Be Waiting for You.”