John Fullbright isn’t a Texan, but he’s the next best thing: an Oklahoma native who spends a whole lot of time here, touring and writing songs. The 2013 “Best Americana Album” Grammy nominee even recorded the video for “Happy”—the first song on his forthcoming new album, titled simply Songs—at Willie Nelson’s ranch. If you get Willie’s stamp of approval, you’re basically an honorary Texas musician.
Just because Fullbright plays an acoustic guitar and has a fondness for minor keys, though, don’t count him among the sad folkies who make up a disproportionate part of the state’s musicians: “Happy”—which isn’t related to the ubiquitous Pharrel anthem—explicitly stands as a call against the sort of mopiness that singer/songwriters are defined by. (It’s even got a whistling solo.)
Still, it’s hard not to be happy if you’re a 25-year-old songwriter and you’re playing a set, and filming a video, at Willie’s ranch. Though, to hear Fullbright tell it, the performance was the second best part of the time he spent out there. “It was fun to play the set,” Fullbright says, “but it was more fun to play dominoes on his domino table. Rumor is he plays $100 games—we mostly just drank $100 in beer.”
Watch the video for “Happy” below:
Photo: Vicki Farmer