164: Steve Azar, country music legend with multiple hits on the charts goes behind the music and tells us where the inspiration for so many songs have come from

August 14, 2020

Steve Azar

Steve Azar talks about interpreting COVID-19 through his music. “In some sort of weird way I have already done it. I’m about to put it on a new record. But, it is my way of doing it. I’m actually going to record it with Cedric Burnside who is a legendary blues (musician). His dad was R.L. Burnside, and Cedric is the best. I may give you a sneak peek of it. We are about to lay it down in June when they allow us in the studio.”

On this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, we talk with Steve Azar, Blues Musician, Music and Culture Ambassador of Mississippi, and the Host and Creator of In a Mississippi Minute podcast, about the power and influence of inspiration. “When inspiration happens, you don’t have to look for it. It finds you. You don’t have to go, ‘I’m going to sit down and write a song.’ It makes you write the song and then the song falls out. So, after all of the years of doing it wrong when you were younger or barely getting it right or learning from the best. My mentors were legends as writers and I was always drawn to them.”

What You Will Learn:

Steve Azar discusses some of the changes that he has witnessed during the pandemic. “I’ve never seen more families walking together. It is like Mr. Roger’s neighborhood right now all over the place. And I just think that is another example of the good that is going to come from this. That core family value. I just think that is going to bring something special when we come out of this. But listen, it would be nice if there was something a little bit easier on us all. You know, this has been tough on everybody. Unless you are in the paper towel and toilet paper business, or the hand sanitizer business, or masks, the grocery store business and all that.” 

Being raised in Mississippi has really had a huge impact on Steve Azar. “The one thing about growing up where I grew up is at some point, you better be honest because you are influenced by all of this gospel, blues, rock & roll. We were the birthplace of American music here, man, and country. So no matter what you do, you can’t run from all of these influences. You best find yourself. When you come out as an artist in the wash, you better be unique and sound like yourself and tell your story, based off of all of these influences. Mississippi has always been in the lead, in the forefront when it comes to musical history. We founded it all. You can go from country to Jimmy Rogers, to Elvis Presley and rock & roll.”  

Steve Azar talks about some of the music legends that have some out of the state of Mississippi. “We are doing a new music festival called The Mighty Roots Music Festival in the beginning of October and it is literally where Muddy (Waters) lived on the farm. Robert Johnson, I mean we can go back. It was Eugene Powell. When you walk in my house in the front door, you see a picture of Eugene Powell that was signed. And Eugene was a guy behind my dad’s liquor store when I was 10 or 11 years old that let me go about and just hang out with postmen every once and awhile. He was just out there playing, and man, if you can’t get inspired by that? That is how I got hooked.”

Mark Pattison talks about the inspiration that he derived from the song “Sunshine” by Steve Azar when he was climbing the Denali mountain. Steve explains writing the song quickly on the first night he was with singer/songwriter Bob Seger out of the 46 nights they were together in Grand Rapids, Michigan: “It wasn’t even a thought. Everybody says that, ‘you wrote that about your wife.’ I’m sure in the back of my mind I’m always thinking about my wife. But I really wasn’t. I was thinking about nothing, nothing. That just fell out. It was so simple. It is just interesting. Taylor Swift said it was her favorite song in People magazine. That was like a big jolt. She talked about me being vulnerable. I was like, oh, I like that.’”

Steve Azar shares his interesting comparison between music and sports: “It is like being on a team and you can’t choose your team. You’re drafted into this team, right? It is who they are. Even though you get to choose musicians, there weren’t a lot of choices and I wanted the best ones. You’re at the mercy of everyone around you. The beauty of where I am now in the last probably 10 years of my life is, maybe a little longer than that, maybe 15 years, is the team has to rally around the plays I’m calling. I’m running the show and that makes it right for me and there is no way that my audience is ever going to respond to anything else.”

Doing the Movie Lipstick

Why did the song Waiting on Joe pop into Steve Azar’s brain while he was mowing the lawn, and was it about his brother Joe? “A little bit. First verse, yeah. Second verse was about what I was chasing. I was older, man. I hadn’t had a hit. I was 36-years-old at the time. I hadn’t had a hit until I was 38. So, this was pivotal.”  

Mental Health

During this episode of Finding Your Summit Podcast, Steve Azar also talks about his podcast In a Mississippi Minute and the great assortment of guests he has accumulated: “We are in our third year, I mean, you’ve been on our show, the CEO of UPS David Abney, a great man. He has been on it. Our last two governors, the head of tourism, Craig Ray. I mean, you name. Then we’ve had Barb and Michael Eruzione were just on, 40 Years a Miracle…. He’s got a book, The Making of a Miracle. I’ve just had John M. Barry who is an old friend who reached out to me to do a PSA for COVID.”

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