The 80-year-old Grand Ole Opry star co-wrote the song with 43-year-old Johnson. Although Anderson considered pitching the song to George Strait or Willie Nelson, he decided to recapture the magic of prior Johnson duet “The Guitar Song” and other cross-generational collaborations.
Wisdom comes with age, and the two veterans chose well when they entered the studio to tell their own tale about why “the young wish they were older, and the old wish they were young.” If everyone turned 21 all at once, kids would have the adult responsibilities they covet while older folks would regain their spry, youthful outlook. On one hand, it’s about not appreciating the innocence and fleeting nature of your own youth. On the other, it’s about adults wishing they could combine their current foresight and maturity with past opportunities. In Anderson’s case, he wants to be a hungry, young Atlanta-based artist again, with the added knowledge of a legendary songwriter and Po Folks pitch man.
The vibrant yet slightly understated drum and pedal steel accompaniment lends the song an old-fashioned vibe while guiding the duo’s sentimental journey. These types of songs by veterans usually get called returns to form, but the “Still” and “World of Make Believe” singer never lost that magic touch as a performer or as the co-writer of such songs as George Strait’s “Give It Away,” a 2006 co-write with Johnson and Buddy Cannon.
It’s the second track off Anderson, a new album co-produced by German-born songwriter Thomm Jutz and the Country Music Hall of Fame’s Peter Cooper. Additional collaborators include John Paul White and Paul Overstreet. Anderson’s first studio album since a 2015 collection of gospel favorites arrives on Sept. 14.
Anderson Track List
1. “Old Things New”
2. “Everybody Wants to be Twenty-One”
3. “Dixie Everywhere I Go”
4. “Dead to You”
5. “Something to Believe In”
6. “Watchin’ It Rain”
7. “That’s What Made Me Love You”
8. “Practice Leaving Town”
9. “The Only Bible”
10. “Waffle House Christmas”