It’s been 20 years since Josh Turner’s breakthrough hit, “Long Black Train,” became a sensation on country radio. Since then, the South Carolina native known for his deep, resonant voice has gone on to sell more than six million records and reach five and a half billion global streams. On September 8, MCA Records Nashville is releasing Greatest Hits, a collection of the best-loved Josh Turner songs, including “Your Man,” “Would You Go With Me,” “Why Don’t We Just Dance,” and of course, “Long Black Train.”
“To be at this place where my [record] label believes in me enough to put something like this out is pretty gratifying,” Turner tells Woman’s World with a smile. “I’ve fought tooth and nail for most everything that I’ve achieved in this business and had to work hard for it. So to get to a place where I have a Greatest Hits record is a pretty big accomplishment in my mind. Hopefully the fans appreciate it as much as I do.”
In talking about this landmark collection, the father of four sons says the hits album feels almost like a family heirloom. “Every album marks milestones,” Turner says. “It marks certain phases and periods that I went through and different times in my life with family and career, just all kinds of different things that we’ve experienced. After a while when you start looking back and you see all the records start piling up and the different things that you’ve been able to do through the decades. It’s pretty staggering.”
Josh Turner getting his big break
Josh Turner moved to Nashville to attend Belmont University and pursue a career in country music. He met his wife Jennifer in college and she’s performed in his band over the years. His career began taking off shortly after he performed “Long Black Train” on the Grand Ole Opry stage and received a thunderous standing ovation.
“I remember the first time I heard [the song] on my hometown radio station,” Turner says. “Jennifer and I were headed home to visit with my family and once we kind of came into range of the radio station, I started listening to it and next thing you know they were playing ‘Long Black Train.’ I had to pull off the road and it was a pretty emotional moment because I had been dreaming of it for so long and I finally got to hear one of my songs on the radio station that I grew up listening to. It was a pretty moving moment for me.”
A feeling that never gets old
Over the last two decades, Josh Turner has enjoyed that kind of satisfaction many times. “Jennifer and I heard one of the songs on the radio…and she just kind of looks at me and [says], ‘It never gets old, does it?’ And I said, ‘No, it doesn’t,’ because when the song plays that’s something that’s out of my control,” he explains. “When I hear it happen, I still feel the same way. That’s what I dreamt of my whole childhood and for it to continue to happen all these many years later is pretty crazy.”
Whenever Josh Turner hears one of his songs on the radio, it feels like a time machine. As he says, “My mind goes back to the origin of the song, just the life of the song and all of the people associated with the song…If I had it to do over, I would cut every one of these songs. It’s like the old cliché, they are all my babies.”
Looking back fondly
Music has been the vehicle that’s taken Josh Turner places he never thought he’d go. “There are things that happened that I would have never dreamt of, like going out and singing on the stage of the Ford Theater in DC with Tom Selleck introducing me and me playing for the President of the United States in the front row,” he says. “I’ve experienced so many different things. I don’t necessarily have a bucket list. I just kind of take the opportunities as they come. If I see something or if I want to achieve something I’ll go after it, but I’m pretty content with my family and what I’ve done so far and the fact that I still have my health and I still have my voice.”
Turner isn’t resting on his laurels. He’s already working on a new album with producer Kenny Greenberg. “I’m maybe a little over one third of the way,” he says. “I would probably be done with this record if I hadn’t been so busy this year, but it’s been a crazy year with touring and everything else going on. We have plans to finish the record this year.”
Fans can’t wait to see where Turner takes them next. In the meantime, let’s take a walk down memory lane with Josh Turner’s greatest hits.
11 of the very best Josh Turner songs
1. “Long Black Train” (2003)
Though this song only peaked at No. 13, it spent 30 weeks on the chart and launched Turner’s career. He wrote the song by himself and says he drew inspiration from a vision of a long black train running through the middle of nowhere.
“I could see people standing out to the sides of this track watching this train go by,” he said to The Boot. “As I was walking, experiencing this vision, I kept asking myself, ‘What does this vision mean and what is this train?’ It dawned on me that this train was a physical metaphor for temptation. These people are caught up in the decision of whether or not to go on this train.”
2. “Your Man” (2005)
This song was the title track of Turner’s Your Man album. It provided a perfect showcase for Turner’s low voice and easygoing style. The song was written by Chris DuBois, Jace Everett and Chris Stapleton. Stapleton has gone on to be an award-winning country superstar in his own right. “Your Man” peaked at No. 1 in early 2006 and by 2021 had been certified triple platinum.
3. “Would You Go With Me” (2006)
This Josh Turner song was written by Shawn Camp and John Scott Sherrill. It hit No. 1 and spent two weeks at the top of the chart. It also earned Turner a Grammy nomination for Male Country Vocal Performance of the Year.
4. “Me and God” (2006)
Turner wrote this song after he graduated from Belmont University and was just starting his career. “I was living in a 535 sq. ft apartment. I wasn’t married yet,” he reveals. “I had signed my publishing deal and, I think, I had negotiated my record deal, so I wasn’t really touring at the time.”
The song ended up peaking at No. 16. on the charts, and Turner recalls, “Literally every morning when I woke up, all I had to think about was writing songs. It was a very sweet time in my life. I wrote ‘Me and God’ during that time.”
“I just wanted to write a simple song about my relationship with the Lord because I feel like a lot of people try to overcomplicate that and I was just trying to express the fact that it doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s very simple,” he says emphatically. Turner enlisted bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley to record the song with him as a duet. It earned a nomination from the Academy of Country Music for 2007 Vocal Event of the Year.
5. “Firecracker” (2007)
This energetic hit was the first single from Turner’s Everything is Fine album. Turner co-wrote the song with Pat McLaughlin and Shawn Camp. It peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs.
6. “Why Don’t We Just Dance” (2009)
Written by Jim Beavers, Darrell Brown and Jonathan Singleton, this lively hit was the first single from Turner’s album Haywire. “It’s an up-tempo, traditional country song that has a very catchy melody with a lyric that poses the question, ‘Why don’t we just dance?’ and forget about all of the bad stuff going on in the world and just concentrate on each other,” Turner said when the album’s release was first announced. The song became Turner’s third No. 1 hit. It spent four weeks at the summit, marking his longest stay at the top.
7. “All Over Me” (2009)
This was the second single released from Turner’s album Haywire. It was written by the hit songwriting trio of Rhett Akins, Ben Hayslip and Dallas Davidson, collectively known in Nashville as The Peach Pickers because of their Georgia roots. Turner’s warm, engaging performance propelled the song to No. 1 in October 2010.
8. “I Wouldn’t Be a Man” (2010)
Originally recorded by country legend Don Williams, who took the song to No. 9 on the chart, “I Wouldn’t Be a Man” has also been recorded by Billy Dean, whose recording peaked at No. 45. Turner put his own memorable stamp on the sultry ballad. He released it as the third single from his Haywire album. Written by Rory Bourke and former NFL pro turned hit songwriter Mike Reid, the song went to No. 18. It remains one of the most requested Josh Turner songs.
9. “Time is Love” (2012)
Written by Tony Martin, Mark Nesler and Tom Shapiro, this memorable message song was the first single released from Turner’s album Punching Bag. Though this Josh Turner song only peaked at No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, the magazine named it the No. 1 Country Song of the Year.
10. “Hometown Girl” (2016)
This was the second single released from Turner’s sixth studio album, Deep South. The song was penned by Marc Beeson and Daniel Tashian. It peaked at No. 2 and was certified platinum by the RIAA for reaching a million units in sales and streams.
11. “I Serve a Savior” (2018)
Written by Turner and Mark Narmore, this is one of those beautiful Josh Turner songs and is the title track of his acclaimed gospel album. The project debuted at No. 2 on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart. It also marked Turner’s first appearance on the Top Christian Albums chart, peaking at No. 2. The album also featured classics such as “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” “I Saw the Light” and “Amazing Grace,” as well as new live versions of “Long Black Train” and “Me and God.” “I Saw the Light,” featuring Sonya Isaacs, won Turner his first Dove Award in 2021.
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Deborah Evans Price believes everyone has a story to tell and, as a journalist, she considers it a privilege to share those stories with the world. Deborah contributes to Billboard, CMA Close Up, Jesus Calling, First for Women, Woman’s World and Country Top 40 with Fitz, among other media outlets. Author of the CMA Awards Vault and Country Faith, Deborah is the 2013 winner of the Country Music Association’s Media Achievement Award and the 2022 recipient of the Cindy Walker Humanitarian Award from the Academy of Western Artists. Deborah lives on a hill outside Nashville with her husband, Gary, son Trey and cat Toby.