Eddie Montgomery comes from the heart on “Aint No Closing Me Down”

Montgomery fulfills a pact and unleashes his soul with new album.

Written by Vernell Hackett
Eddie Montgomery comes from the heart on “Aint No Closing Me Down”
Eddie Montgomery; Photo Credit: Michael Gomez

Every artist in any genre has something to say about the pandemic, about the time they were home and unsure of when or if they might ever be on stage to perform for their fans again. Eddie Montgomery has one simple statement to describe this time for him: “I reckon one thing the pandemic did was help me write a bunch.” And that he did, writing with some of his favorite writers and friends — Chris Wallin, Ira Dean, Kim Tribble, David Lee Murphy, Justin Weaver and Noah Gordon, who also produced the album.

Around the time of the pandemic, Eddie was contemplating how he was going to go on without his musical partner, Troy Gentry, who was killed in a helicopter accident in September of 2017. The two had made a pact years before that if something happened to one of them, the other would carry on with the music they loved to write and sing. It is one thing to make a pact, but when a tragedy actually happens, it is much harder to carry out. The extra year-and-a-half the pandemic gave him helped Eddie move forward, writing the songs that would become a part of Ain’t No Closing Me Down, which released Friday (October 29) exclusively at Wal-Mart.

“I wanted to comfort my soul and I had the greatest writers help me put it together,” Montgomery says, adding that much of the healing can be heard in “Alive and Well,” which is on the new album. The lyrics honor Troy as well as Eddie’s two sons. “‘Alive and Well’ is the story of my life, and I think Troy was there when we wrote it,” Eddie says. “One of my sons died quite a few years ago. I lost my other son the same month as Troy. When I wrote that song, it helped me a little bit, I reckon, to heal the wounds. But the scar is always there.”

Eddie is confident when he says that he believes Troy was with him while he worked on this project, from the time he was writing and choosing the songs to using the duo’s road band The Wild Bunch in the studio. He also thinks Troy is with him while he’s on tour. “There will be stupid things that happen on the road and we’ll go ‘oh hell it’s Troy … just things that happen where we know Troy’s got to be around.'”

“Writing music came from my heart and soul and that’s where we came up with “Ain’t No Closing Me Down,” Eddie relates. “It is what we always sang about — the good, the bad, the ugly, and party on the weekends. I was very blessed to get to write a lot of this album; when you write with legends like Ira Dean, David Lee Murphey, all those guys I wrote with, when you write with them the song ain’t gonna be bad. I wanted the best songs and everybody seemed to think the songs were good enough to put on the album.”

Eddie said it meant a lot to the band to be a part of the album. “Me and Troy picked our band, picked our songs and what you see with us is what you get, and I felt I wanted the guys on the album with me and T would have wanted that. Average Joe’s (his label) and Noah said let’s give it a shot and we’ll see what happens. The Wild Bunch came in and knocked it out of the park. It meant a lot to them to be on the album. That’s why it sounds like me and T-Roy, because of the band. Some people say it reminds them of our first album, Tattoos and Scars, and I take that as a compliment.”

There are several songs on the album that Eddie didn’t have a part in writing. One he is particularly proud of does have the Montgomery name on it, but it is his nephew who wrote “Ain’t She Beautiful.” “My brother (John Michael Montgomery) played it for me and I said ‘If ya’ll don’t cut this song, I want it’.”

“Ain’t She Beautiful,” written by Walker Montgomery and Chris Rafe, is a love song to America, and anyone who knows Eddie knows that he does love his country. “It was a great honor for me to cut my nephew’s song. I don’t think I could have written it any better. I love this country. America is the greatest country in the world, and we don’t give it up enough for the American heroes; they let us live our dreams. I don’t care who decides to try to destroy it, it’s going to keep on going, because it’s the only place you can decide what you want to do, who you want to be.”

Eddie has his own philosophy about bringing the people of America together again. “I think everybody ought to listen to a song and sing along. I think if people would listen to music there would be world peace; you can change a life with a song. I don’t care what you try to do to America, when it comes down to it we will all pull together and kick somebody’s ass if we need to.”

Another song, “My Son,” was written for the movie Old Henry. “I wrote it with Noah Gordon, who is a genius. The company came to us and said they wanted a song for the move. I asked if we could see the movie and they said it wasn’t finished. So I said, ‘Okay give me script or a trailer’ and they gave us both. Me and Noah sat down and watched the trailer on the movie about 200 times. The script was so many pages, so we looked through it and then we wrote the song. You know me losing two of my sons, my soul come out in that song. The movie is great … of course I’m a western buff, and I love war history. We needed a good western now day, it’s been a while since we had one.”

Another highlight for Eddie was working with Tanya Tucker on the song “Higher.” “Noah had worked with her and asked me what I would think about doing a duet with Tanya. I was like, ‘Oh my God, when you mention icons like Charlie Daniels, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, she is an icon with them.’ Let me tell you, I’ll put Tanya up against any artist. Her voice is still as powerful as when she sang ‘Delta Dawn’. It’s as good as it ever was .. what a great honor that was to have her on the album.”

Of course, the highlight of the album is “She Just Loves Me,” which Eddie says is the first love song he ever wrote. “It’s about my smoking hot wife,” he says proudly. “I never thought I’d ever write a love song, but I didn’t know I’d ever met her either. I wrote it, we put a little demo on it, just an acoustic version. I brought it home, I said I’ve got something for you. I wrote this, I want you to listen to it ‘cause I can’t sing it for you. So she listened to it, and it freaked her out. I reckon I did pretty good on it.”

This album has songs that Montgomery Gentry fans can relate to – songs that reflect the music they played in those rowdy bars in Kentucky as they were honing their skills as entertainers, skills that they used to hold the attention of the audience with their songs, which ran the gamut from that rockin’ honky tonk sound to their beautiful ballads. Eddie explains how he and Troy came up with their signature sound, but first he stops to compliment the fans. “I tell you man, we’ve got some great friends, we don’t call them fans. One thing I think growing up in bars, you’d see somebody come in to celebrate a promotion or getting fired, married or divorced, celebrating anything. It’s all the same. So we would sing about the good, bad, ugly and party on weekend. We would write about what people can relate to.  We had twin guitars, we liked to sing songs and put a little edge on them. What you see is what you get, that’s the way we were. We were the guys who grew up on Charlie Daniels, Waylon, Willie, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Molly Hatchet, and they always seemed to sing about what we lived every day. I reckon that’s where we came up with our style. We did it our way, they wanted to put that outlaw thing on us but we just did our music. Your heroes influence you a bunch, and then when we went into a bar, we heard the stories of the people who come to see us. It all influenced our music.”

Eddie Montgomery; Photo Credit: Michael Gomez

Eddie is performing at the Ryman Auditorium on November 22. This will be his first show there as a solo performer with The Wild Bunch, but he has special memories about listening to the Opry that came over the airwaves from that building as a child. “When I was a kid my dad would be sitting out in an old junkie station wagon, late at night if he wasn’t playing somewhere in a bar, and he would be listening to the Opry. You dream of being on that stage, with all your heroes singing all their songs. And then you grow up and you get to meet them and you get to sing with them and it is awesome. I remember my dad telling me, ‘I tell you something boy, you haven’t made it until you play on the Opry and become a member. Awards don’t mean nothing until you do that, and then you’ve done something.’ He loved what the Opry stood for and what it is about.”

Montgomery Gentry became members of the Opry on June 23, 2009. When they were inducted by Little Jimmy Dickens and Marty Stuart, Eddie told the story about his dad listening to the Opry in his old station wagon. Sadly, his dad died in 1994, so he didn’t get to see that induction ceremony, but you can bet, like Troy is with Eddie now, Eddie’s dad was right there with them when they were welcomed as members of the Opry family.

When asked how he feels now that the album is out, Eddie replies, “I poured my heart and soul into it. I hope everyone likes it. Our music has always been you either love it you say it’s too rock or too country. But it is my heart and soul and I poured it out and I love it. When I hear people say it reminds them of Tattoos and Scars, I take it as a compliment. We worked our ass off on that CD, so it’s a real compliment.”