As we navigate the strange, hectic world that 2020 has introduced us to, it’s not uncommon to yearn for yesteryear when things were both “good” and “normal.” For Dave Fenley, his way of looking back comes in the form of a song; a classic by The Judds called “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days).”
As relevant now as it was when it was originally released in 1985, Fenley brings a new, intimate feel to the song with simply an acoustic guitar and a powerhouse vocal. Coupled with a lyric that Fenley says promotes viewing the current world circumstances with a wider lens, the song is a light in a year dominated by darkness.
“This song was always powerful. Everybody’s grandparents are a tree of knowledge, and it seems like no matter what generation is looking back, things were better before. That’s what makes the song so timeless,” says Fenley. “In this crazy COVID world we are in right now, where there is so much divisiveness and hate speech, I thought it would be a good time to try to bring God, love and grace back into the conversation. I’m a proud Christian and a work in progress. I like to think this song can help people look at a bigger picture and not be so selfish. We are in this together.”
Though he’s a longtime fan of the tune, Fenley says that 2020 has offered him a new perspective on the song’s message.
“A lot of people hear the title and think it’s just talking about a grandfather, but it’s so much more than that. Were there problems in the generations before us? Certainly. But there were some pretty great aspects to life back then that I wish we could bring back,” says Fenley. “We have a whole generation of young people that only have to turn on TV or radio if they wanna learn every swear word imaginable. Ain’t that sad? Don’t get me going [laughs].”
In the song’s equally moving music video, Fenley’s parents and wife make an appearance, something that makes the song even more special, and a collective memento for his family.
“It was amazing to have my mom and dad and wife in the video,” says Fenley. “It’s sad to think about, but we don’t get to live forever, but my family will be immortalized in this video in a beautiful moment on a beautiful day in the hopes to bring a little beauty into other people’s world. It means everything to share that with them.”
“Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days)” continues a string of covers Fenley has released recently. Ranging from Travis Tritt to Lionel Ritchie to Van Morrison tunes, Fenley says he has enjoyed the opportunity to tap into multiple genres, and is taking advantage of the platform he earned after a run on The Voice in 2018.
“I’ve been writing and making albums since 2008. I love the process but, when I moved to Nashville in 2013, I started writing with the intention of getting my songs recorded by other, bigger artists. I also had always thought I had missed the window on YouTube, so I just never did it. After The Voice, people were asking for YouTube videos. So I started with a few songs that I had performed on the show, and people really liked ‘em! I was reaching a new audience that didn’t have my albums. So I just kept repeating the process of recording great songs and then directing new fans to my old albums,” says Fenley. “As far as song selection goes, I just love so many songs from so many genres. When you’re doing cover songs, you don’t need the same kind of continuity like you do if you’re making an album. It’s pretty liberating and fun to put my spin on the classics.”
One of those covers, “Help Me Hold On,” originally recorded by Travis Tritt, has earned Fenley nearly 1.5 million streams, and has been a song that has been both a live staple and was a staple for him on The Voice.
“That song is so special to me. It was my soundcheck song for years, so if you were at one of my shows early enough to hear me warming up, I was singing that song. Little did I know how much it would mean in my life. First off, it was the song that solidified my spot on Team Blake, and secondly, I went through a divorce and basically lived the lyrics in real life. It really helps to sing it with conviction when you truly have lived the song. So many of the comments on YouTube reflect that aspect in others people’s lives,” says Fenley. “There’s a lot of heartbreak in this world. I’m glad there are songs that make us feel not so alone.”
With the rest of the year, Fenley plans to stay busy both from a songwriting and artistic perspective, and looks forward to the opportunity to bring his songs on the road again when the time is right.
“I’m gonna keep on writing songs and making albums. I’m also recording a bunch more videos for late 2020 and all of 2021. I’m ready for live shows to start back up, but I want to make sure everyone is safe in going to them. We’ve all taken a hit financially, but there’s a lot more to life than money. We will get through this.”
*Images by Logen Christopher/Stormlight Pictures*
**Find “Grandpa (Tell Me ‘Bout the Good Old Days)” featured on The Best of Pro Country playlist!**
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