Ned LeDoux ‘Tickled to Death’ to Release Debut EP
Friday, December 2 was a day that Ned LeDoux looked forward to for some time. That’s the day that the singer released his debut EP, Forever a Cowboy, on Thirty Tigers. He tells Sounds Like Nashville he’s thrilled to finally be releasing the music to his fan base. “I’m really excited to get this thing finally recorded,” he said. “I’ve been singing these songs for the last year or so – just acoustically. I had the band come out on some shows with me as well. But, to get into the studio and have these songs just come to life with the studio cats makes me tickled to death to finally have it out to the people.”
Of course, his last name is going to be familiar to music and rodeo fans. The son of Chris LeDoux, Ned says that the singer was a great influence at everything he did, but especially being a parent. “If you’re a rodeo fan, you know Chris LeDoux as a high school champ, a college champ, bareback champion in 1976. If you’re a Country Music fan, you know him as a great singer-songwriter, probably one of the best ever. But, if you’re me or one of my siblings, you simply knew him as ‘Dad.’ That’s the best way that I could put it,” he says, brimming with respect.
Ned actually spent seven years in his father’s road band, from 1998 until his death in March of 2005. “That has been the pinnacle of my music career,” he asserts. “I don’t know if I could top that. It was a magical time.”
From listening to the EP, is it obvious that the son inherited his father’s vocal and writing chops? How about his riding ability? “I can ride a horse, but I never got into the rodeo side as a competitor. I fell in love with music when I was about five or six, and that was really all that I ever wanted to do. It doesn’t hurt quite so much,” he says, laughing.
One of the most important tracks on the EP is “We Ain’t Got It All,” which allowed him to collaborate with his late father on paper. “My mom found some song ideas that Dad had written down many years ago. None of them were finished. There were just a couple of lines here and there. I don’t know if he planned on going back and finishing them. I sat down with a few of them, and did my best to try to finish them. Then, Mac McAnally, who produced some of Dad’s albums, found out about it, and he invited me to his place in Nashville. We sat down together, and finished it. I think Dad would be happy with the way we finished it.”
Working with the legendary McAnally is something the singer takes great pride in. Despite his legendary musical pedigree, LeDoux says his producer us as down to earth as they come. “I was around him a little bit when he was producing ‘Horsepower’ (Chris LeDoux’s final studio album from 2003). He’s just a really good guy, and I enjoyed hanging out with him. He was a huge inspiration for me when it came to the songwriting. I had never written a song before. He just has this easy going way about it. I didn’t have to pick his brain about it. I just sat, watched, and listened.”
One song that Ned is particularly passionate about on Forever a Cowboy is “The Hawk,” inspired by a conversation he and his siblings once had with their father. “That is actually a true story. The song kind of explains itself. A few days after Dad passed away, this hawk shows up. On our ranch in Wyoming, we don’t really see too many hawks around. I remembered that one day Dad and all of us were outside, and he asked ‘When you pass away, if you could come back as something else, what would you want to be?’ Most of us said a mountain lion or an eagle. We asked him, and he said ‘You know, I think I’d like to come back as a hawk.’ That to me was very much a spiritual song.”
He also tips his hat to his dad by covering “Johnson County War,” a song from deep within the Chris LeDoux catalog. “That’s always been one of my favorites. He recorded that in 1989 on the ‘Powder River’ album. It was something that happened in my hometown. I wanted to re-do one of Dad’s songs, but I wanted to do something that not a lot of people had heard.”
Already a crowd pleaser on the road, LeDoux has opened up for some of the format’s heavy hitters. “The first big show I got to do as a singer was to open for Toby Keith and Chris Janson out in Salt Lake. That was a couple of years ago. I’ve known Toby for a while, and Chris puts on one of the best shows I’ve seen lately. It’s been great sharing the stage with a lot of those great acts.” And, he hopes that continues into 2017. For now, though, he’s taking it a day at a time – and enjoying every minute of it. “I don’t have a crystal ball. We’ll just see what happens. I’m excited to see what’s around the next corner.”