Billy Ray Cyrus has seen a lot of things in his three-decade music career. But he’s never seen a luxury car show up in his driveway via Postmates. But that’s exactly how Lil Nas X thanked the country singer recently when he used the app to send a Maserati to the “Achy Breaky” star after their hit remix of X’s “Old Town Road.”
Cyrus visited The Late Late Show on Wednesday night (May 22) to talk about how the Lil Nas collab happened as well as explain the mysterious cover of his SnakeDoctor Circus (May 24) album and perform the haunting ballad “I’ve Been Around” for James Corden’s audience. “His record company and management had asked if I would be interested in joining him on the song,” Cyrus said of Lil Nas’ reach out. “I said, ‘What would I do because it’s already perfect?’”
Though he’s been around the biz for a while, Cyrus wasn’t sure what he could add, since he already thought the song, and X, were so cool. “I read about his story and I felt a little bit of injustice was done to him. He had not been treated right,” Cyrus said. “And I believe in the law of what is right and I looked at it [and thought] if he thinks I can help him in any way I’m in his corner.”
Cyrus said he’s been working on Circus for nearly three years with his “Achy” writer Don Von Tress. “The Circus is my life, but the snake doctor itself… you can see it’s somewhat of a dragonfly and in Southern lore this bug would fly over a wounded snake and it would flap its wings and help heal the snake and bring it back together,” explained Cyrus. “And as you know there’s a lot of division in our country and a lot of division in our world and what Don and I had hoped through this music was to be like the snake doctor and bring some type of healing through the music and bring people together.”
He then performed the powerful Johnny Cash-like ballad “I’ve Been Around” to spare accompaniment from his band, which featured a stand-up bass, slide guitar, bass and violin. “I played to win/ Lost a few/ I made the papers/ And I’ve been old news/ But when I’m done, let it be written down/ I’ve been around,” he sang in a hushed baritone, his silver ring-covered hands tightly gripping the mic and his eyes mostly obscured by a large cowboy had pulled down low. Wednesday’s show was the first live performance of the song.
Watch Billy Ray Cyrus on The Late Late Show below.