Ever since Chris Stapleton revived interest in the song "Tennessee Whiskey" back in 2015, it's become a tad overplayed by bar bands. Whether you're on Lower Broadway in Nashville or at a small town watering hole, it's as likely to be sung as "Ring of Fire." Yet a small group of patrons at B.B. King's in Memphis weren't complaining after the house band performed the Dean Dillon and Linda Hargrove co-write with a certain local celebrity.
Instagram footage posted last Thursday (Aug. 22) captures the moment when the band urges Justin Timberlake to take the stage. Live band karaoke on steroids followed, with Timberlake harnessing the bluesy, Etta James feel his friend and collaborator Stapleton brought to a song previously recorded by David Allan Coe in 1981 and George Jones in 1983.
Without social media, friends of the lucky few at the bar that night might write this unlikely collaboration off as a tall tale. Fortunately, Instagram user Daniel Yanes captured a series of videos that proves Timberlake's cameo happened and captures the heart and soul he poured into his performance.
At best, it's Timberlake's second most legendary live performance of the song. In 2015, a historic CMA awards duet with Timberlake and Stapleton sing-shotted the latter's version of "Tennessee Whiskey" to the top of the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. it was a key moment in Stapleton's transformation from a sought-after songwriter to an award-winning solo performer.
Stapleton's revival of a song that forever connected his career with Timberlake's almost didn't happen. Before recording his version for his 2015 album Traveller, Stapleton's blues-tinged take existed merely as a warm-up song for soundchecks and rehearsals. Upon hearing it, producer Dave Cobb suggested that Stapleton cut his own recording of the song. In all likelihood, no one in the studio that day had one iota that Cobb's suggestion would go platinum.