Country radio might be a little surprised to see on their desk a song called “Lights Of Louisiana” from Terry Bradshaw. Yes, that Terry Bradshaw, the “Blonde Bomber” who carved out a legendary NFL career as quarterback for the Steelers, and has continued to be a fixture on game day as a commentator for CBS and FOX.
He says that music is not that big of a stretch: It’s actually his first love. He made it to No. 17 on the Billboard Country Singles chart in 1976 with his version of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” and has been nominated for Dove Awards on multiple occasions.
Returning to the recording studio was something that Bradshaw wanted to do for reasons that were intently personal, beginning with a long-simmering goal to record a Christmas album.
“I had gone to [producer] Jerry Crutchfield, and said that I wanted to do a Christmas album for my kids when they were kids — they’re not anymore,” he said. “I planned to fund it myself so I could control it, and give it to them as a Christmas present. My lights go up the first week of October, and I take them down in February, so they are up awhile. I listen to Christmas music, and watch the same movies year after year.”
Despite their good intentions, the album project never came to be after years of putting it off. And that’s when Don Imus and a bootlegged copy of unreleased Bradshaw songs came into play.
“Then, Don Imus found an old copy of a Christmas album that Jerry and I had worked on. Jerry actually flew out to LA and tried to fix it, but he couldn’t because the tracks were recorded in the wrong key. So, I tried to sing it in that key, but I didn’t have the range. So, we aborted the project. One of the guys involved with it got mad, so he took the songs, and printed out some copies, and put it on the black market. Imus got hold of it, and would play it all the time. I would just cringe. I told him ‘I’m going to put out an album, and it will be a real Christmas album.’ So we started the album in the summertime right before I went on vacation before football season. Jerry had this one song which I loved. We did it, and also did ‘Silent Night,’ but didn’t really like it. ‘Lights of Louisiana’ turned out great, so we decided to send it out to radio.”
While the full project won’t be out until next year, he’s excited that his daughter, Rachel, will be lending her talents to it. Signed to Bigger Picture and working with legendary producer Keith Stegall, he beams when talking about her budding career.
“She’s such a young and talented woman,” he beamed. “There are a lot of talented people in Nashville, and she knows that. She’s very fortunate to have signed up with them. She’s been writing for five years, and had a hit last year with Jerrod Niemann’s ‘What Do You Want.’ She writes with the best writers in the business, and is a tremendous singer and loves it. I’ve encouraged her to make the most of it because you might not get another chance.”
The holiday record takes the Shreveport native back to his youth. “I especially love the levee line — from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. It has my grandmother and grandfather in there. It’s a flashback song that makes you think about your home, and when I do, I think happy thoughts. It’s a real melancholy song, puts you in a mood to sip on some hot chocolate, and not say much, just think and reflect.”
Bradshaw continued, “As you get older, your past is so much greater to you than when you are younger, and you’re trying to accomplish things, and set the path for your life. I traveled that path, and my journey is still going, but I’m walking much slower now than I did. I’m not a look-back person – I don’t like to do that because it saddens me. But, when Jerry wrote the song and played it for me, I just fell in love with it. One thing that is nice about Christmas is that it comes around every year, and for my state, it will be around forever. My girls have heard it, and they love it. I’m doing it for them, so they better like it,” he said with his usual dose of charismatic wit.