HOT TALK is a weekly column by longtime contributing writer
and former Billboard country music editor Edward Morris.

Keith Urban Talks About New Album, Tour, House
The day after his No. 1 party for "Who Wouldn't Wanna Be Me," Keith
Urban met with reporters in a conference room at Capitol Records to
talk about his career. Dressed in jeans and a vintage corduroy jacket
(see below), he spoke of his holiday and touring plans, songwriting,
his next album and the house in Nashville he just bought. What he
wouldn't talk much about was the screening he'd just attended of the
controversial new Mel Gibson movie, The Passion. Gibson himself had
brought the movie to Nashville to show to an audience of carefully
selected show-biz folks. Urban said Ricky Skaggs had invited him. The
price of seeing the movie, Urban explained, was signing a form
agreeing not to discuss its contents with the uninvited.

He said he was going to spend Christmas on the beach in Australia
with his parents and recalled that his most memorable Christmas gift
was a yellow Tonka truck he got when he was 6. "Those things last
forever," he marveled. In January, he said, he'll be shooting the
video for his new single, "You'll Think of Me," which deals with the
pain of breaking up. "I've been the guy in that song," he said. In
February, he'll begin recording his next album, again working with
producer Dann Huff. Explaining his approach to recording, he said, "I
always go for inspired attempt over soulless perfection." He's
already started writing songs for the album and has lately co-written
with John Shanks, Darrell Brown and Deana Carter. His song with
Carter is called "Comin' Home." "I don't know if it will make the
record," he mused, "but it's definitely a contender." He said he
found it almost impossible to write when he's on the road. Urban will
team with Kenny Chesney again for a series of concerts in March and

After 11 years in Nashville, Urban has finally bought a house, the
first he's ever owned. In choosing his home, he said he asked
himself, "Can I write songs here? Can I make music here?" He plans to
build a studio in the house, which he describes as spacious, well
illuminated by natural light and, best of all, sparsely
furnished. "That [studio] will come before anything gets furnished,"
he promised.

Keith Urban, Part II: The Jacket
I could easily imagine someone wearing a Keith Urban jacket, but,
why, I asked myself, was Keith Urban sitting here at a press
conference wearing a Daniel Nye jacket? Hearing no answer, I decided
to put the question to Urban. Strictly speaking, it wasn't really a
Daniel Nye jacket. It was a blue corduroy Future Farmers of America
jacket with Nye's name stitched prominently across the right breast,
just above two mysterious looking medals. "I found it in a thrift
store and really loved it," Urban told me, shuddering, I suspect, at
the low estate to which entertainment journalism had fallen.

This is as good a place as any to confess that I have a nostalgic
obsession with FFA apparel. You see, I was once an FFA lad myself,
back in the days when plows were fashioned out of pointed sticks. In
that innocent time, getting a new FFA jacket was tantamount to
getting a girl -- albeit briefly. It worked like this: There you'd
be, strutting around in your newly-acquired finery, when a lass who
had heretofore spurned you on every conceivable occasion would wiggle
up and ask if she might wear your jacket for a while. Of course, she
could. For this one delicious moment of contact, you would have
gladly allowed her to shred it into pom-poms. Then she would slip the
jacket on, roll the sleeves up to her exquisite elbows and prance
away down the hall, leaving you stunned at your locker. It was almost
like being engaged. Alas, the glamour of corduroy is finite. So by
late afternoon she would have tossed your jacket back to you without
comment and pivoted away forever, leaving the sleeves still rolled up
and bearing just enough of her scent to incite some of the richest
fantasies you would have for the rest of your life. But I digress. My
subject was Urban's jacket.

After the press conference was over, I edged up behind the singer and
jotted down the name and the state of the FFA chapter Nye belonged
to. (This information was inscribed in gold thread on the back of the
jacket. It said "Gloucester" and "Virginia.") That was all I needed.
After a bit of Internet snooping, I located a Daniel Nye who lived in
Deltaville, Va., on Chesapeake Bay. I phoned him and quickly
confirmed that the jacket in question had once been his. He
acknowledged he had heard of Keith Urban, knew he was from Australia
and rather liked the song "Raining on Sunday." Now 42 years old -- he
graduated from high school and the FFA in 1980 -- Nye admitted that
his musical tastes now run toward the singers he heard his parents
listening to in his youth, cats like Frank Sinatra and Dean
Martin. "Except for rap, I have an across-the-board enjoyment of
music," he said. Then he joked, "I like anything that's not going to
make me beat my wife."

So how did this wonderful garment get away from him? "I've been
carrying that foolish jacket around for 20-some years," he
said. "It's funny I'd give it away now. I believe it would have
gotten [to Urban] in the past year. We moved into a new house [and]
decided we would look through our closets and not take anything extra
that we didn't want to move. We normally take anything like that to
[one of the thrift shops operated to benefit] the King's Daughters
Children's Hospital [in] Norfolk. … If he got it at a thrift store,
it was probably somewhere in the Hampton Roads area -- Norfolk or
whatever. I don't know if he played Richmond. It could have gone as
far as there." Nye remembered the medals stitched on the jacket and
thought one of them might have been for public speaking. He couldn't
recall anything about the other. "I can't believe I purged that
jacket," Nye continued, " because it was such a personal item." Said
his wife, "This is hysterical. I'd like a picture of that." Let the
record show that neither Nye nor I had a future in farming. He's a
trim carpenter, and I ask famous people silly questions for a living.
Keith Urban: Look For Him On New Year's Eve

How about some time with Keith Urban on New Year's Eve? He'll be ringing in 2004 on the Fox Network's New Year's Eve "America's Party" countdown. The 90-minute live broadcast will be from the Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Urban is the country contributor -- other artists include Ashanti, 50 Cent, Metallica, Puddle of Mud, and Hootie and the Blowfish, with "American Idol's" Ryan Seacrest hosting the party.
Keith Urban followed by Rodney Crowell 
Austin City Limits

Austin, TX — Contemporary country comes face-to-face with the songwriter-driven music of the past on this episode of Austin City Limits. Australian-native Keith Urban, a new star on the music charts, shows the power of guitar-driven country, while legendary songwriter Rodney Crowell shows that songs about everyday life never go out of style. Austin City Limits presents Keith Urban followed by Rodney Crowell on January 24, 2004 on PBS (check local listings for time and date in your area).

Keith Urban’s self-titled debut earned him three Top 5 hits, the 2001 Country Music Association’s Horizon Award and the 2001 Academy of Country Music Award for “Top New Male Vocalist.” His sophomore effort, Golden Road, is poised to bring him an equal amount of success. Already being called a country star, the critics are praising Urban’s songwriting and musicianship which fuses rock sounds with country sensibilities.

“Country is where I came from and then playing in clubs around Australia, you sort of start toughening it up, because they're really rough places,” Urban said. “A lot of the clubs are rock clubs so you have to play with a certain attitude and I think you start doing a country song in those venues and these two things start to come together and I think that's where my music's ended up.”

Urban is quickly becoming known for his guitar playing abilities and his energetic live shows.

“Playing live especially I think is my first love because I've been doing it so long,” he said. “And it's really the best outlet for every emotion. You know, the guitar is like a blank canvas every night and you get up and you just play and you don't know what's going to come out. ... I love guitar so much because it does everything you tell it to do and it can't paint colors that you've never seen before.”

Urban’s contemporary country style gives way to the more traditional singer-songwriter country of Rodney Crowell for the second half of this program. In 1978 Rolling Stone magazine named Crowell the next can’t-miss star. After decades in the business, numerous awards and dozens of Top 10 hits, Crowell is still a sure bet.

Even if they don’t know his name, most music fans are familiar with Crowell’s work. Songs he’s written have become hits for various artists including “Ain’t Living Long Like This,” by Waylon Jennings,“Leavin’ Louisiana In the Broad Daylight” for the Oak Ridge Boys,“Shame on the Moon” for Bob Seger, “Somewhere Tonight” by Highway 101, “Ashes By Now” by Lee Ann Womack,“Please Remember Me” by Tim McGraw and “Lovin’ All Night” by Patty Loveless. Although songwriting is his calling-card, Crowell said that he’s also become a better performer through the years.

“It's funny for me because I thought I developed as a songwriter early on,” Crowell said. “In my early twenties I wrote songs that are still around, still being recorded and hits again.  And more importantly songs that I still feel proud to perform.  But as a vocalist and a recording artist, I don't think I really found it until about three or four years ago.” 
Keith Urban
Black Top
You're Not My God
Jeans On
You'll Think of Me
Somebody Like You
Recorded: 10/6/2003 
Check your local listings for times and dates of airing

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