Since 1992 and the success of a song called “Achy Breaky Heart,” Billy Ray Cyrus has learned all about busy schedules. Over two decades later, there is no sign the Kentuckian is slowing down. The singer is promoting his latest album “Change My Mind,” and has also just released his autobiography “Hillbilly Heart.”
“It’s a very busy time,” he told Billboard over the weekend at Nashville’s Parnassus Books. “There was a song that I had a record on a few years ago called ‘Busy Man.’ I have found myself living those words in keeping up with all of this,” he said, referring to his top five smash from 1999.
Cyrus goes into great detail about his youth in the book, with one memory concerning his father being a recurring theme of Hillbilly Heart.
“Well, he gave me a lot of advice, but chapter one is called ‘Life Ain’t Fair.’ It’s the story about when my mom and dad were getting a divorce. I knew everything was messed up and different in my family as opposed to other families in Flatwoods, KY. One day, I asked him why things were like they were, and he pulled over, looked me in the eye, and said ‘Son, life ain’t fair. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you can move on.”
Cyrus said he has replayed that conversation several times since whenever life’s highway has gotten rough. “Sometimes, you’ve just got to call it like it is, and do the best you can do with what you’ve been given. You work hard at your goals and your dreams. The book is dedicated to the dreamers. That’s another thing I learned from my dad — no dream is too big to achieve. You’ve just got to chart a course, set a plan, and vow to pursue it.”
When asked what he would like readers to take from the book, he says “There were a couple of times in my life where the rocket ride got a little fast, and you pray for purpose. I think it was a bit of my purpose to write this book. Hopefully, people might learn from my mistakes. I’m very honest about some of the ones I’ve made. If I can save someone from making some of the same ones, I think that’s the rhyme and the reason of the story. There’s also a few things I did right, and I think that’s something that some folks can borrow from and maybe help them to reach their goals and dreams.”
He also talks about the stories of many of his biggest hits, including “Ready, Set, Don’t Go,” a 2007 duet with daughter Miley.
“It was about those moments that you have in life as a daddy, where you see your little girl grow up. You think you’re ready to let go, and you prepare yourself for that moment, and you’re set. Then, as she’s saying goodbye, you want to reach out, hold her a bit longer and say ‘Don’t go.’ I still live it every day. I’ve got another little girl who just turned thirteen, Noah, so I’m living it through her. A lot of daddies and daughters have written me stories about that song, and how the song was played at weddings or graduations. One dad wrote me about taking his daughter to join the Army, and they listened to the song before they got out of the car. Things like that are the reason why I bought a guitar and started a band. The music touched somebody’s life, and it tends to make sense.”
Having went through the whirlwind of “Achy Breaky” and “Hannah Montana,” the singer says “I’m at a pretty good spot in my life. I’ve written a bunch of new songs for an album I’m going to record this summer. I start a new movie the first week of May called ‘Like A Country Song’ that is filmed here in Nashville. I filmed a pilot with Randy Travis called ‘Still The King’ — I play a dysfunctional Elvis impersonator who becomes a preacher. Randy’s the sheriff. It’s a great story, and I think it will find a home pretty soon. I love acting, being a singer / songwriter, and being here in Music City at this time in my life — coming full circle with the book is quite unique.”