Songwriter, musician, and producer Mac McAnally reminisces about his career and performs some of his hits on September 9, 2017, as part of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s Nashville Cats interview series, hosted by fellow musician and recording artist Bill Lloyd.
A native of Belmont, Mississippi, McAnally talks about learning to play piano and guitar at a young age, eventually performing in clubs and working as a Muscle Shoals, Alabama, studio musician as a teenager. McAnally labels himself as “bashful” and recalls how he unintentionally got his start as a recording artist, releasing his first song “It’s a Crazy World,” at twenty.
A Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member, McAnally explains his writing and co-writing process and reflects on his successes, including #1 songs “Down the Road” (recorded by Kenny Chesney), “License to Chill” (Jimmy Buffett), “Old Flame” (Alabama), and “Thank God For You” (Sawyer Brown).
As a producer (for artists including Buffett and Sawyer Brown), McAnally says he aims to allow the music to speak for itself, and fondly remembers working with Jesse Winchester on his album “A Reasonable Amount of Trouble,” which was released posthumously.
A highly sought-after studio musician, McAnally also recounts some of his recording experiences, with artists including Keith Whitley. He says the recording of Whitley’s “Don’t Close Your Eyes” album was one of the best weeks of his life. He also talks about being a sideman in Buffett’s band, the Coral Reefers, for over twenty years.
McAnally describes his 2017 album, “Southbound,” as a career retrospective, and performs “Down the Road” and “This Time” (recorded by Sawyer Brown), and expresses thanks to those who have supported him with “On Account of You.” McAnally exhibits his expert guitar picking with a cover of the Allman Brothers song “Little Martha” to close the program.
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