Everybody loves a comeback.
There is something about the comeback that people love. It seems even more the case in this country. The underdog, the comeback story. They all inspire others to take control and determine their own future.
Country music has had many comeback stories. It’s rare, though, for a country artist to see their career struggle for a time only to come back stronger than ever. It has happened a few times and even in recent history there have been some great stories.
The most recent comeback story is from Chris Cagle.
It was 2008 and Chris Cagle was coming off one of the biggest singles of his career. The song, What Kinda Gone, was peaking near the top of the charts. It was Chris’ first top five single five years. He’d been going through a variety of personal struggles over the previous few years, but he’d been able to keep his career on the tracks for the most part. He was still a star and What Kinda Gone was a huge hit. Everything appeared perfect.
All was not well, though. Chris was going through personal struggles. He was struggling with the women in his life. He ended up spending a night in jail and eventually his label decided it was best to part ways. I’m sure the decision was partly Chris’ as well. According to a recent interview, he was simply sick of the life he was leading and leaving country music seemed like a necessary step at the time.
That was the last time many people probably felt they would hear from Chris Cagle. I’m sure those on the inside in the country music circles felt it was time for one of the most exciting performers of the decade to move on with his life. Fans, myself included, figured it was just the latest example of a country star getting burned out from the demands of the job.
Then something amazing happened. I guess for me it started with my first chance to see Chris perform live. It was the summer of 2010 and Chris was playing a show for the first time in what I think was a few months or even a year in Eau Claire, WI. Chris gave a great performance. He was alive on the stage. Even though it was 5:00 PM and the clouds were dripping a cold drizzle, Chris was moving around like he was a kid again. There was a definite spark on stage and an even bigger one in the audience. The crowd absolutely loved the show. The fest was full of energy. All the hits from the past decade were there and everybody knew the words.
Chris even played Walmart Parking Lot at the request of a fan he had met backstage. That song has become a favorite of many even though it never reached great heights on the charts.
There was a point in that show when Chris was talking about his career. He looked back fondly on all the good times. He mentioned just briefly his escape from it all and then he proudly said, “I’m not done.” You could feel it in the air that he meant it.
But it was actually another year before Chris surfaced again with a new single. He was with a new label and working on new material. During the show he played a few new songs, but when it came time for a single in 2011 it wasn’t one of the songs he had previewed the summer before. It was worth the wait and Chris was prepared to make his first single in four years something special.
The result was Got My Country On. The single rocked just the way previous Cagle singles had. The fans immediately recognized Chris as being back in the game and back in a big way. Even though he was on a new independent label, Chris was packing the power of a much larger label backing.
Chris was on Bigger Picture and he was ready to scale the charts again. Over the next few months the song climbed and climbed. It made its way into the top 40 and then the top 30. Soon the song was cracking the top 20 and leap frogging other songs.
As of this week the track is right on the edge of the top 10 on the charts. It’s become one of the biggest songs of Chris’ career.
The record, Back In The Saddle, is due out next month. Chris promises more great country music. He seems excited about the songs. He seems excited about his life and career. He’s married. He has a new family and he’s living his dream on a ranch he built with his wife that even includes horses and pecan trees.
It’s been a great comeback story for Chris Cagle and it’s pretty unlikely once you think about it. Most country stars don’t recover after their career starts to fade. There is even less of a chance when the artist seems to be burned out from the business. That kind of burn out can scorn a person and leave them wanting nothing more.
But Chris came back and he came back in a big way. He’s back on the charts and will soon be back in the top ten.
Who knows what the rest of his career has in store. All we know right now is that Chris Cagle is back in the saddle and ready to rock country music once again.