"Down in Texas near the D.F.W/ among the shrubs and patios and BBQs/ was born a suburban boy named Billy B Bad/ had a white bread mama and a rock ' n roll dad/ didn't have much soul or country roots/ but he looked cute in his cowboy suit." - Billy B Bad - Bobby Braddock.

Billy Ray Cyrus's life could have been a Hollyweird classic.

The grandson of a Kentucky senator soared to fame on the strength of a refried dance ditty penned by a Vietnam veteran.

It shot him to chart tops in 1992 and made him one of the most pilloried performers in the long history of the genre.

There was a plethora of parodies of Achy Breaky Heart, a brace of cartoon pastiches in shows diverse as South Park & The Simpsons and elitist sneers from pop puppets.

That huge hit was a huge earner for Cyrus and war weary writer Don Van Tress but it also became the albatross that almost choked the dancing dude.

The backlash persuaded Billy Ray to cure the Cyrus virus - he became an actor and sired the most successful teenybopper belle of the new millennia.

Now Billy Ray is laughing all his way to the bank - with a little hell from Disney diva daughter Miley.

Cyrus, 47, played GP Dr. Clint Cassidy in long running TV series Doc in his decade long hiatus from charts but is back in the music and movie saddle with a vengeance.

"I went and auditioned for film director David Lynch's Mulholland Drive," Cyrus recalled.

"They hired me, and a few weeks later, I went and auditioned for Doc. Pretty soon, I had 88 episodes and four years of experience as a full-time actor. It just prepared me for the next bridge that was coming called Hannah Montana.

When Cyrus starred in Doc from 2001-04, he unsuccessfully tried to have the show's production moved from Canada to Tennessee.

But he again relocated his family in 2006 to Los Angeles to star with Miley in Disney TV series, Hannah Montana.


"He sounds like everyone on the radio/ he's building up his biceps for his video/ the people at the label said we like to start em young/ we know you're 23 but we'll say you're 21/ they played him some Strait, they played him some Jones/ now he's got that country music down in his bones." - Billy B Bad - Bobby Braddock

But now he has returned to his rural roots in Miley movie Hannah Montana, filmed in Tennessee, and also on albums cut to expand his music career.

Veteran hit songwriter Bobby Braddock - the producer behind the success of Blake Shelton (beau of Texan star Miranda Lambert) - wrote the vitriolic Cyrus parody Billy B Bad.

Texan born legend George Jones cut it on his 1996 disc I Lived To Tell It All that was accompanied by a biography of the Possum.

The late Waylon Jennings also took aim at Cyrus on his song Living Legends Are A Dying Breed.

Jennings, once criticised for writing and recording beyond the once narrow confines of the genre, is now being lauded for introducing Miley Cyrus to country music.

With supreme irony the chart topping Hannah Montana movie soundtrack has scored flack for being listed as a country album.

I haven't heard it so I can't comment.

But the cast - Rascal Flatts, Taylor Swift, Billy Ray and Miley - would suggest a pop country format.

Now in a recent interview by Cyrus to promote 11th album Back To Tennessee he has revealed the Waylon-Miley mentoring.

Not quite the same influence Waylon and singing spouse Jessi Colter had on their son Shooter who played Jennings in the Johnny Cash movie Walk The Line.


"Travis Tritt's got all the talent/ least it seems that way to me/ he's a little brash and cocky/ but he's got a right to be/ now Billy Ray keeps right on dancing/ outta tune and outta time/he drives Bubbas up the wall/and girls out of their minds." - Living Legends Are A Dying Breed Pt 2 - Waylon Jennings

But here is Cyrus's story to celebrate his performance with less famous son Trace in the video of his song Somebody Said A Prayer on Nu Country TV.

Cyrus recalled first meeting with Jennings, who died at 64 on February 13, 2002, at Nashville radio station WKDF-FM with radio personality Carl P. Mayfield.

No mention was made of Waylon song Living Legends that name checked a vast cast including Cyrus, Tritt, Clint Black, Garth Brooks, Madonna, Tanya Tucker, Dolly Parton and fellow Highwaymen, Shotgun Willie, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson.

"Carl P. was also a friend of mine," Cyrus revealed.

"Carl P. felt that Waylon and I had a lot in common. He wanted to get us together, so we met live on Carl P.'s radio show one morning. From that moment on, we just really became very. I want to say kind of like a brother. There was a feeling about Waylon that was sort of like a best friend, but there was more. I really loved him and, as a matter of fact, we left that radio station and went to his house, and he put on a pot of coffee. We sat there by Buddy Holly's motorcycle and drank coffee and just talked for hours and laughed a lot. I remember that laughter and the stories he would tell. Just one thing led to another."

Not just bizarre buddies but also an extraneous spark.

"A few days later, he came out to my house," Cyrus added.

"I remember Miley sitting beside him. Waylon showed her the chords to Good Hearted Woman, and she had her little guitar out there. I look at Miley now, and I think about the influences that she's been around. You can't sit and talk to Waylon and have him teach you the chords to Good Hearted Woman and some of that not rub off on you in some way."

Cyrus performed Amazing Grace acoustic at Waylon's memorial service at the famed Ryman with a little help from Travis Tritt and Kristofferson.


"Fancy cars and diamond rings, I seen all kinds of shiny things/ I should be feeling like a king, but lord I don't/ great big towns, so full of users, make a million, still a loser/ some may bet on you to win, most hope you won't/ I'm on the road now, I know just what I need/ to find my way back to Tennessee." - Back To Tennessee - Billy Ray Cyrus

Billy Ray Cyrus with Miley
Cyrus also recalls the late country and rockabilly icon Carl Perkins taking Miley out hunting rabbits.

"I feel the same way about Carl Perkins," Cyrus recalled.

"Carl came out, and he and I walked with Miley on the property as he was letting his rabbit dogs run. Neither one of us were hunters. We didn't carry guns, but he just liked to hear his dogs chase rabbits. At one point he looked at Miley - and the dogs were barking and going through the field - and he said, 'Now, honey, I want you to always remember this: Me and your daddy ain't out here to kill a rabbit. It ain't about that. It's about the chase.' And for Miley, it's art imitating life. Now she's sings this song that's all about the climb. The Climb is the chase. It's exactly what Carl Perkins was talking about. It's not about necessarily arriving at a place, it's about what it was like getting there. What did you have to do to get to that spot?


"Too many broken promises/ too many trail of tears/ too many times you were left cold/ for so many years." - Trail Of Tears - Billy Ray Cyrus

But it wasn't Waylon or Carl who inspired Cyrus's artistic rebirth with the bluegrass tune Trail Of Tears - title track of his 1996 acoustic album that he produced with his guitarist Terry Shelton.

Shelton, leader of Cyrus's road band Sly Dog since 1987, collaborated with the singer as a writer and arranger from his debut disc Some Gave All.

Cyrus wrote Trail of Tears about the plight of a displaced Indian nation, written from the soul of the artist.

"It's the saga of the Native American Cherokee and their forced march and relocation from Georgia to Oklahoma in 1838, under terms of a congressional "Indian Removal Act," CMT Nashville Skyline columnist and author Chet Flippo wrote.

"An estimated 4,000 people died in the Army-driven Trail of Tears march, which was so termed in a direct translation from the Cherokee - The Trail Where They Cried ("Nunna daul Tsuny").

The single Trail of Tears peaked at #69 and was a salient signpost to Cyrus and his creative challenges in the post achy era.


"Just a single mom raisin up the kids/ little Tommy's seven now and her daughter Justine just turned ten/ pinching every cent laughing and loving and content/ you would never think a couple years ago she almost let her job, her kids, her mind, her life go up in smoke/ right there on the edge right before the fall." - Somebody Said A Prayer - Billy Ray Cyrus.

Cyrus may have felt the noose of his Achy Breaky Heart albatross loosen when he cut suicide inspired spiritual song Somebody Said A Prayer as a single and filmed a video for it.

"It's a powerful, powerful song," Cyrus explained.

"I know of one life it's already saved. I can't go into details, but I know of one kid that happened to hear the song because my son Trace was in the video for that song. If that's the only one it touches, it's good enough for me. That's why I cut the song. I know it touched my life."

But the song was not a huge radio hit.
"I thought Somebody Said a Prayer was going to be huge," Cyrus added.

"I couldn't see anyway that song wouldn't have gone to No. 1. People at the record company thought it was going to be the song of the year. I'm hoping the depth of the album will be realised, because the proof is in the pudding. That song resonated with the people who heard it, but getting radio stations to play it was a different story.

Cyrus's 2007 comeback album, Home At Last, was a hybrid of classic-rock covers and contemporary country originals.

Back To Tennessee has far more focus despite a duet with Miley on Butterfly, Fly Away - from the soundtrack of Hannah Montana: the Movie.

The singer has also been moonlighting in a super group Brother Clyde with former Boy Howdy icon Jeffrey Steele, singer Phil Vassar and John Waite, once front man for rock band The Babys.

Waite, also a member of Bad English, branched out in recent times to record a duet with Alison Krauss on historic hit Missing You.

Steele and Tom Hambridge wrote Give it To Somebody for the new Cyrus album.

He covered Sheryl Crow song Real Gone and wrote I'm Just as Country as Country Can Be and the title track.

"You have to remember Back to Tennessee is a song that I wrote about coming home," Cyrus says.

"Tennessee isn't just a place I live, it's a part of who I am."


"I grew up on Jones and Tammy Wynette/ blue collar dollars and the sun on my neck/
Nascar and Earnhart, still miss number three/ hey, I'm just as country as country can be/ wide open spaces fit me like a glove/ still live for my truck to be covered in mud/
I got hard workin hands, I got boots on my feet." - Country As Country Can Be - Billy Ray and Nick Cyrus-Casey Beathard.

Cyrus wrote Country as Country Can Be with hit country songwriter Casey Beathard and the singer's brother Nick.

"We were sitting around the fire talking about my life and this journey," Cyrus says.

"Did you know I wrote that with my little brother? I've got a brother named Nick, and he's been around Nashville a lot. He and I were sittin' up by the fire right before I was gettin' ready to go in the studio and I'd just came out of Hollyweird to go in there and make this record. And I was just tellin' him how great it felt to be back in Tennessee and how much I loved and missed the land and the music. And we were talkin' about NASCAR. And we were both talkin' about how much we still love Dale Earnhardt. And my brother looked up and said, "I ain't apologising for it, man. I'm just as country as country can be." And I snapped my finger and said, "Country as country can be. I need to write that before I go to make this record tomorrow." And lo and behold I sat down that night and got a good start on it. And the next morning I finished it over coffee. Then the next morning I called Casey Beathard, who wrote Ready, Set Don't Go with me. So Casey comes over to the house and he puts the icing on the cake. And I went in and cut it like two days later. It's really the way Nashville used to be, when artists were absolutely living what they were singing and singing what they were living. And it developed in front of society because it was real. And that's what this record, Back to Tennessee, is. For better or for worse it's my life. And I'm wearing my emotions on my sleeve. I am Billy Ray Cyrus from Flatwoods, Kentucky and I am country as country can be. I wanted this album to be all of me, all of who I am and all that I've been through. And all that I am and all that I'll be is somewhere within this body of work known as Back to Tennessee."


"Now poor old Billy's at the end of the line/ he's over the hill cause he's pushing 29/ he's not as young and he's not that handsome/ he's just tested positive for Branson." - Billy B Bad - Bobby Braddock.

Cyrus has landed a supporting role in Kung-Fu star Jackie Chan's new movie, The Spy Next Door.

Chan plays a man fighting off secret agents after a kid he's babysitting accidentally downloads a secret governmental code.

Cyrus says he plays a "cool character" who luckily doesn't have to do as many stunts as Chan.

"Mostly, when he really needs to be forceful, my guy carries a gun," Cyrus confessed.

"So I let Jackie do all the high-energy karate chops and stuff. And then when it's my turn, I just pull out my piece and do my thing."

The Spy Next Door will also star comedian/actor George Lopez, who plays the bad guy.

The film is currently being shot in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Other movie-TV roles include Bait Shop, Death And Texas, Wish You Were Dead, 18 Wheels of Justice, Radical Jack, Elvis Has Left The Building and Flying By.

It's a far cry from his humble career start when was living out of his car on the banks of the Cumberland River.

It was where his record label took the cover photos for his debut album Some Gave All.

"Man!" I had on a blue jean jacket on the cover," Cyrus recalled.

"It started getting cool, so I just threw that jacket on, and that became the cover of that album. I remember my car being parked there because that's where I lived. That's where all my stuff was, so it wasn't like I had wardrobe. That was my closet. If you look on that album cover, you'll see old factories and stuff back in the background. They're gone now.

The stadium's there."

Cyrus has bounced back from the oblivion of the character in the Braddock song.

There but for the grace of acting and his sprint along a trail of tears he's back in the saddle.

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