"Several of my uncles served in Korea, and World War IIÉit wasn't so much about the particular war to me that sold me on that songÉit's a story song, and it's so real to me, I can close my eyes and envision the entire thing, like a movie."
England also says, enthusiastically, that the power of the song is enhanced by the haunting harmony vocal of Andrea Zonn. "It was a real pleasure to work with her, she did a great job."
As a "bonus track" on the new album, Brooks convinced England to record a new version of "Should've Asked Her Faster," but England was reluctant at first - having played it "900,000 times" over the last five years, he was frankly getting a little tired of it.
"That was actually Garth's suggestionÉhe said 'this (album) is so much different than anything you've ever cut, that we need to take the songs people recognize, and age it, mature it, just like the rest of the album is matured over your other two.' I'm glad we did it now, but initially I wasn't for this, but in all honesty I think I like this cut every bit as well as the first cut."
It certainly was an added incentive when, on buckling down to record the new version, he looked across and saw Steve Wariner sitting in front of him. Wariner's jazz-like scatting and guitar licks add a new, even more playful dimension to the song. England describes it as "more of a guy song," comparing it to the good-natured Moe Bandy/Joe Stampley duets of a few years back.
Tyler England may or may not become more of a country music "star" than he was as Ty England, but the last five years have given him a much clearer picture of where's he's been, and where he's going. He understands, for one thing, that consistent success depends, for better or worse, on carving out a niche on radio playlists.
"What hurt me, more than anything else, was the lack of hits on the radioÉnothing will break your heart like getting a band like (mine) together, a group of guys that love music, and then watching it unravel because you can't deliver a hit on radio. My goal is to just work at radio, and hopefully radio is going to want to play this stuff, and I'll be there to support them when they do."
Still, pleasing the radio gods aside, England is satisfied with the more confident, self-assured and, yes, mature artist heard on "Highways And Dance Halls." He's quick to share credit with Brooks for the finished product, but he seems pleased and justifiably proud that, in the end, he got to do it his way.
"This is the first time, ever, that I got to be so much a part of every little detail in this whole projectÉthis has been me, all the way, and I'm not trying to be selfish or anything, but it makes me so much more comfortable being able to tell somebody, this is my stuffÉwhether they like it or hate it, at least I can say that honestly, and actually say that I had a huge part in the making of everything you see."