Joe Nichols looks out at his smiling audiences these days and sees lots of lips moving. It’s a great feeling to see his fans singing along with his latest hit song, which is basically a three-minute reminder that it’s OK to enjoy life. His upbeat “Good Day for Living” has a simple message that even Joe Nichols seems to be taking to heart.
“We’re riding the wave on this, and it feels good,” says the seasoned country artist. “It always has felt good to have a hit on the radio. And seeing people at the shows singing your music word for word really lets you know on a spiritual level or an emotional level that what you’re doing is on the right path.”
That musical path has covered lots of ground since the Arkansas native left home for Nashville in the late ‘90s. He’s long been drawn to more traditional country songs, particularly those with a heavy dose of heartache. But he also knows when to lighten up stylistically.
“My number-one job is to connect with peoples’ emotions, and sometimes that’s happy and sometimes that’s sad,” Nichols says. “With a song like ‘Good Day for Living,’ it’s simple joy—and music needs to be that sometimes.”
It’s the title track to his 10th album, and his first on Quartz Hill Records. He hopes the song will endure as a fan favorite along with other hits over the years such as “Brokenheartsville,” “The Impossible,” “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off,” “Sunny and 75,” and “Yeah.”
In the meantime, the positive response to his new music has made for a pretty full schedule for Nichols. The wintertime typically means a little down time before the much busier spring and summer, but he’s been working pretty steadily. He realizes that’s a good problem to have, even if it means more time away from his family’s home in Tyler, Texas.
When he does have some time off, he loves to drop a line. He’s enjoyed fishing since he was a boy, but he prefers a quieter, more low-key experience to an adrenalin-fueled adventure. “I’m not a big deep sea fishing guy,” he says.”I know a lot of people really love it, but I prefer the lakes and rivers and streams.”
He’s in luck. It’s a fairly short drive to catch his fill of crappie at either Old Cypress Bayou in Jefferson or Lake O’ the Pines in Longview. For an even easier outing, he’ll accompany his two younger daughters (10-year-old Dylan and 8-year-old Georgia) to a small pond on a golf course in their neighborhood. On a good day, they’ll catch a few bass or maybe a turtle—or not.
“We’ll get some minnows or worms or a couple of good lures and go out there and spend a whole afternoon being quiet, waiting on the fish. Sometimes they bite and sometimes they don’t,” he continues, “but the older I get, I think those are the kinds of things you’ll look back on as the best times of your life.”
And this is coming from a guy who’s warmed up a crowd of 90,000 people for Garth Brooks, played countless concerts overseas, and sung duets with the likes of Dolly Parton, Lee Anne Womack and his old buddy Blake Shelton.
As for career goals, he’s happy with the path he’s on. “Really, it’s just to keep doing this as long as I want to, and have these kinds of fans still showing up every night.” He thinks for a moment, then adds, “And a big pile of money on the side wouldn’t be bad.”