That's a testament to your character. A lot of people probably wouldn't have seen it that way.
We don't cancel shows. We've always been that way. Like Hootie and the Blowfish – in the history of that band, we had only canceled one show up to that point for my knee. That was when my mom died.
You ended up dedicating Learn to Live to your Aunt Janet, who you thanked for playing Willie Nelson.
Yeah. My aunt and my mom were real supporters of what I wanted to do. She was always a big Willie fan. When I got into her car, Willie would always be on. That was my aunt.
Looking back over the Learn to Live experience – and staking your claim in Nashville – what song do you think is really reflective of that experience?
"While I've Still Got the Time." I was turning 40 when I wrote it. That song is just really country and Nashville for me.
Few people know that you released an R&B album on Hidden Beach in 2002. Although Back to Then wasn't a commercial success, in time, I hope that people will revisit the album. "Ten Years" is the album's most personal track — and definitely one of my favorites.
"Ten Years." I love that record.
Would you mean shedding a little bit of light on the inspiration behind the lyrics?
My oldest daughter, her mom and I were together ten years before we broke up. "Ten Years" was just that ultimate closure. Really, when I wrote that, I said I'm never going to write another song about that relationship. That's the way I saw it. That was it.
The passion and emotion really pour out from the track. Keeping the lyrics in mind, what lessons have you learned from life?
I know what life is really about now. I really know what I want to do and what I'm supposed to be doing. I adore my wife. I'm sure it hasn't been the easiest thing being married to me in the nine years we've been together, but my marriage is defining me more and more.
When you reflect on your current relationship, what do you consider to be the most important rule in the game of love?
Listen, man. That's really it - listen. That's really the most important thing. I think a lot of times people don't listen or you're just getting to the point where you're talking but you're not listening and that's not good.