Rockin' the Country with Joe Don Rooney: Combining Diverse Stylistic Elements, and My Take on “Life Is a Highway”
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This month I’d like to talk about my playing on “Life Is a Highway,” Rascal Flatts’ cover of a song written by Tom Cochrane that we recorded in 2006 for the Disney/Pixar animated film Cars.
Previously released as a single by Cochrane in 1991, the song was already a big crossover hit, and it proved to be a perfect match for this all-ages movie, as it combines a positive message with a catchy country-flavored melody, a soulful uptempo rhythmic groove and some chunky rock rhythm guitar parts, onto which I put my own stamp and some country-rock-style leads. Our version of the song become one of our biggest hits, and it remains a concert fan favorite.
One of the things I love about “Life Is a Highway” is its swing-16ths feel, which is comparable to that of the classic Van Halen song “Beautiful Girls” and just makes you want to start bobbing your head and tapping your foot.