Stockyard Sessions: Josh Ward Talks What it Takes to Make a Record and More

After 20 years in the business, it still surprises Josh Ward how often fans still ask him for new music.

“It’s like dang, they actually liked it, let’s go get another one,” he said.

That process, however, is delicate for him. He doesn’t want to make music for the sake of making it. He is not going to put music on a record to fill a hole, he wants people to put in a record and listen to it in its entirety.

“Waylon Jennings used to say ‘don’t write a record if you ain’t got nothing to say,’” Ward said. “If I can (move someone) by handpicking that song I wrote two years ago, handpicking that song I wrote yesterday. If it counts, those are the ones that are going on the record. You’ll never hear one of my records with a filler song.”

With that, it’s fitting Ward’s conversation with The Cowboy Channel took a turn toward songwriting and what it was like for Ward to create this new record, which will feature a song about his son he calls the most memorable he’s ever written.

TCC: A 20-year career in music, what are some of the highlights?

JW: If had to narrow it down….Well, we played the Grand Ol Opry last year, so that was a really big deal to me. Growing up as a kid, listening to watching on TV that kind of thing. You’re sitting there wondering ‘man, I wonder what that would be like.’ And I can tell you right now, that’s better than anything I ever imagined. I mean, it’s like, the history in this place is amazing. The friends you meet, lifetime friends, longtime friends.

TCC: Let’s talk about your music a little bit, what inspires your music?

JW: Inspiration in music, to me, I am just drawing the emotional side of it. Where a song takes you, a memory it triggers, it takes you back to something. Melody, I love melody about things, we usually write that way, we write around a hook or a melody. Music is a powerful thing, it helps people get through stuff that any other life, they couldn’t. As a writer, you don’t think about those things until you write ‘em and send ‘em out to the world. Then somebody comes to you, which is one of the greatest compliments as a singer-songwriter, and says ‘we got married to this song’ or ‘that song reminds me of my grandpa.’

TCC: What is your most meaningful song?

JW: I wrote one about (my 17-year-old son) Jace. It’s called Walking in My Boots. And I think that any dad that hears it, you know father-son, can relate to it. It was funny, I was heading to Nashville, it was during all of the COVID stuff and we didn’t want to fly. So, we took the bus up and I remember Jace telling me ‘hey I need a new pair of cowboy boots.’ I said ‘what size are you wearing’ and he said, ‘I’m wearing size 11.5 EE,’ just out of nowhere small talk. And I said, ‘dang boy, you’re big enough to be walking in my boots.’”

TCC: Tell me about your connection to rodeo, you rodeoed yourself, you’ve played at a lot of rodeos…

JW: I rode bucking horses for quite sometime and figured that playing a guitar and singing a song is a little easier on the body. That to me, when we go play a fair or a festival or a rodeo, a PBR event, anything like that, it’s kind of my way of giving back to the sport that I love so much.

TCC: Going down the road for music is so similar to going down the rodeo, like you said, what are some on the road stories you have?

JW: There’s all kinds of crazy stuff that goes on on the road. We’re always playing pranks on each other. For the most part, the partying days are gone. We don’t do that no more. The bus is home, we know it’s a business. It’s not a party, but you still gotta make it fun and we find all kinds of way to entertain ourselves.