Sometimes, even the most multitalented country music megastars, like Keith Urban, get a jolt of surprise by what comes to the surface in interviews. The New Zealand-born, joyful Nashville transplant is out promoting his latest instant-favorite from his varied catalog, “Wild Hearts.” Sadly, however, Keith Urban wrestles with some heavy and hurtful matters at the moment. It’s no wonder why the artist’s autobiographical revisions to the song’s verses spark unexpected emotion during a Taste of Country Nights chat.
A morning still in mourning for Keith Urban
As always, Keith Urban poured out his characteristic exuberance from the stage of Today in Rockefeller Plaza last week (September 3). While Country Music Alley conveyed Keith’s renewed excitement to play before “real humans” again at festivals, such as one in Ohio, his smiles masked a deep pain.
What no one among the enormous gaggle of Keith Urban’s grateful fans guessed was the tremendous grief that still weighs on the “Blue Ain’t Your Color” artist. His revered production manager, Randy “Baja” Fletcher, sustained a fall after setting up the stage for Keith Urban’s Bash on the Bay performance in Ohio, resulting in serious injuries that took his life. As Country Music Alley relates, Fletcher took honors as the first CMA Lifetime Achievement Award recipient for Touring, Urban not only voiced his love for the 72-year-old who always saw more than the glass half full in every situation. Instead, Fletcher’s stance was “What a beautiful glass!” Keith Urban reflected. Randy Fletcher was a tour fixture for ZZ Top, Waylon Jennings, Brooks & Dunn, and many other artists, along with Urban.
Of course, the loss of any dear one often prompts tender reflections on all those in our lives now departed from this life. It’s clear from Keith Urban’s conversation with Evan and Amber, hosting the musician’s insightful segment for Taste of Country, that Robert Urban, who died in 2015, was at the forefront of his son’s mind and heart.
The boy Keith Urban yearns for a Johnny Cash stare from dad
“Saw the Man in Black, spotlight in the air/Heard a thousand screams, saw my daddy’s stare” the opening lyrics to “Wild Hearts” call. Instantly, the vivid “soul camera” capture floods every listener and Keith Urban himself with the memory of his first concert at age 5.
Even for the most seasoned country music fans, Johnny Cash in concert is intense, speaking as someone who knows. The boy Keith Urban only reflects that the giants crowding around him were the “loudest, drunkest people I’d never seen,” as he recalls. Like his dad in the rural community, the audience espoused a philosophy of “party hard, work hard, drink hard,” the son explains. As the spotlight beams pierced through the smoke-filled arena, another image pierced into Keith Urban’s soul.
“I saw my dad looking at Johnny Cash, just staring—transfixed” Urban describes. Intrinsically, Keith Urban marveled at how Johnny Cash made his dad offer such a reverent gaze—one never given to his son.
In a follow-up comment, Keith Urban candidly admits that “a therapist or child psychologist would say that I wish to get that stare from my dad.” All in all, the guitar maestro and chart-topping music champ across genres realizes that his dad saw and gave attention and approval to his son’s success “years before he passed away.” Nonetheless, the worthy son seems to still yearn for that true sense of acceptance. Through the conversation, Keith Urban frequently deflects something from his eyes.
Intervention from Nicole birthed Keith into new strength and hope
Today, Keith Urban feels genuine gratitude for all the “shine blockers” who incessantly try to drain the light from someone’s spirit and artistry. He asserts that those detractors only give him “fire” to move forward.
Speaking of moving forward, Nicole Kidman knew the steps that her husband had to make to break free from addiction and truly live the life that he and their love were born to have. Even with the example of his own father and the toll of alcoholism, Keith Urban fell into a cycle of try and fail numerous times after his transition to Nashville.
In the case of Keith Urban, his career was “on fire, and so was my life, in completely the wrong way,” as he affirms in an MSN per Today feature. In some ways, the path to sobriety took longer for the master musician because of comparing himself to his father. At last, though, with 15 years of sobriety in his quiver, Keith Urban can say that he’s made the choice “I wish my dad would have made.”
Love tested by trial
Remarkably, only four months after their 2006 marriage, Nicole stages a full-on intervention to drive Keith Urban treatment. Rather than resistance, the troubled Urban sensed only “the love in that room. in that moment, was just right.” Willingly, he surrendered and simultaneously found the strength to break the shackles of addiction.
In turn, Keith Urban frequently expresses how he is deeply spiritually connected to his wife. He describes being “born into her” and history bears out their beautiful love story. None of us have any control over the situation we are born into, but as ‘Wild Hearts” confirms, we all can choose to find the “God-lit fire inside” to guide our destiny.
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