Cassar-Daley coming home to celebrate milestone
TROY Cassar-Daley is pleasantly surprised by the reaction to his new single Wouldn't Change a Thing, the country music star genuinely pleased by the number of people who have jumped on it ahead of today's release of his long-awaited Greatest Hits double album .
He said the song's theme, about making choices and mistakes as a young person and how you learn from them, was a topic most people could relate to.
"It's a bit different to what I normally do musically, but people have embraced it and found themselves reflecting upon their own lives after hearing it."
And while Troy laughed hard when quizzed whether this song was his Taylor Swift moment as far as writing about his personal life and some of the more tumultuous years he navigated as a young, single man in Grafton, he did say if you grew up in in the Clarence back in the late 80s early 90s you might relate to the song a little more closely than your average person.
"(Wouldn't Change a Thing) will be clearly more pointed to the people I grew up with. No-one else will know what the Crown (hotel) is except people from my hometown. I mean to get a punch in the mouth at the Crown (over a girl), that was a very important lesson for me," Troy said.
Troy sings about many of those moments and his personal shortcomings in the Nash Chambers produced-track that, while still distinctively Cassar-Daley, has a touch of the famous Nashville sound, the place the acclaimed producer and his family now calls home.
Co-written over the internet with Greg Storer (artist Sara's brother) Troy said the song certainly doesn't hold back.
"I did have times when I drank too much or was doing stupid things. I've failed many people in my life and been embarrassed about that but these were all lessons I learned by. I made some really dumb decisions growing up but I think we've all done that.
"With this song, I looked back and thought I wouldn't go back to my 18-19 year-old self and say 'would I do anything differently?', I think I'd go back and say 'hey, good on you for hanging in there, no matter what' that's all I'd say. I wouldn't say change this or that. Who wants to live with regret?"
The Clarence-inspired theme continues in the second new single especially selected for the Greatest Hits release, a song he penned after a more recent trip back home for a family event.
"We were up at Buccarumbi last year, at a men's gathering after we lost a cousin from cancer. I was there with my uncles and first cousins and we were all talking about stories and things we had been told about our part of the river up there, where we were camping, and Shadows on the Hill came from that. Writing a song like that in my mind on the way back to Brisbane was something very special to me. I hadn't dipped into that well for a long time."
So with two new singles already implying a bit of of a hometown theme, just how much of the Clarence can we expect to hear in the 42-tracks selected for this milestone double album?
"Yeah, wow a lot of them. I wasn't too good at maths but I'd say more than half the songs written by me have so much of my youth and memories of my 25 years in the Clarence Valley. And the times, when I come back and reflect, more things fall out. It's always going to be a part of my writing."
As he began to think about some of the tracks, the Clarence connections started flowing.
"The first song I wrote with Paul Kelly was '40 Miles'. I talk about this stretch outside of Grafton to Halfway Creek. So really, everything I look at here (on this album), I can see parts of where I grew up. I don't know whether Grafton or its people realise the effect it had on me and many other people that have left there."
And while releasing a greatest hits album is defining moment for the 49-year-old, it wasn't something that he had been contemplating seriously until late last year, when the seed was casually planted by his wife Lauren.
"We were talking over a couple of wines and she asked me out of nowhere 'what musical legacy have you left behind'. 'What do you think are the special songs, what are ones that mean something' and that's basically where the conversation started."
Troy said from there it was pretty much all systems go for a retrospective of a music career that began as a 12-year-old busker on the streets of Tamworth at the country music festival.
"You get to a stage in your life where you feel there is a collection of work you can put together that tells people who you are. It kind of felt like it was time. I looked at the whole process like a roadtrip and if I was going to put some of my songs together for one, what would they be."
Troy said they followed a formulaic process when it came to assembling the tracks that would make it onto his greatest hits release.
"We analysed which ones were going to be the singles included and which ones were the songs people ask for all the time. There was quite an interesting criteria involved once we got started.
"We ended up with 31 tracks that have been No. 1. charting songs, which is a more methodical way of looking at it. There's also the songs that people won't let you out of town without playing. We didn't necessarily make them singles but people can make them singles. I was stoked at the amount of reaction we had with certain songs over the years and they're the ones that have made it on the album. It's a great way to gauge what goes on a 'best of' or 'greatest hits' release."
Troy said the double album was an appealing way to give his songs back to people in one big package. "We added the two new singles so people could also hear something really quite different amongst the more familiar music."
Fans of the Clarence's son of country music will be in a live musical treat next year when he brings his extensive tour back 'home' (Coutts Crossing and Yamba) for two acoustic concerts to showcase his greatest hits with a very special guest support in tow.
His daughter Jem will be "opening for her dad" after they decided it was a great way to spend a 'gap-year'.
"Jem's always sat around and sang around the house. She doesn't need much encouragement on that front. She often comes down to the studio at home and plays her heart out. But she's a typical 17-year-old and doesn't take anything too seriously so there was no lightbulb moment. I just thought she's obviously into it so I offered to it to her."
Troy said his wife of 22 years, Laurel Edwards, wasn't so enthusiastic about their daughter putting uni on hold so she could tour with her dad.
"When I asked Jem about coming out and opening a few shows for me instead of going straight to uni her mum was saying 'no, you're going to uni'. So me being the old free-floating north coaster was saying 'uni-schmooni', that'll be there when you get back.
"After 12 years of cramming her brain at school I thought how about we do something that you can't learn at uni, engage with an audience."
Troy said doing an acoustic show of greatest hits mixed with stories of his life, and having his teenage daughter be a part of that, will be very special.
"A lot of the shows will be acoustic and intimate like the Coutts concert because there will be a lot of love in the room. I think that's really inspired me to go out and do this acoustic tour next year.
"As an artist you can't get a more intimate experience with an audience than this style of show. It will be a musical adventure showing you how the songs sounded the day they were born, this to me is the purest way to hear them and I can't wait to share them with my hometown crowd."
- ALBUM: Troy Cassar-Daley's Greatest Hits double album is out today (October 19) and available through Bloodlines.
- TOUR: Troy Cassar Daley will be bringing his Greatest Hits tour to Coutts Crossing Hall on February 24, 2019 (tickets 6649 3236) and the Yamba Bowling Club on March 24 (tickets www.yambabowlingclub.com.au or 6646 2305).