Americana Highways brings you this premiere of Jon Tyler Wiley & His Virginia Choir’s song “Strong,” due to be available on April 9, 2021. “Strong” was produced by Jon Tyler Wiley & His Virginia Choir; engineered by Jon Tyler Wiley and Brian ‘Piper’ Barbre; and mastered by Hans DeKline.
“Strong” is Jon Tyler Wiley on vocals, electric and acoustic guitars; Eddie Dickerson on fiddle; Thomas Johnson on keyboards; Joanna Smith on bass; and Brian ‘Piper’ Barbre on drums and percussion.
Video was produced by Will Webb from lodusdog9. I love a good porch show. Doesn’t everyone? This video is Jon Tyler Wiley in a lovely porch setting with his lovely song “Strong.” Savor Jon Tyler Wiley’s songwriting details from a locket to siren songs amid soaring crescendoes.
We had a short chat with Jon Tyler Wiley; enjoy that first and find the premiere just beneath the interview.
AH: What inspired you to write this song? What is it about?
JTW: This song is about my wife. As a songwriter, I love telling stories, and I love telling fictional stories, but this song is one of the first ones I ever wrote where it’s based on truth.
AH: How was it writing this song — did it all come out at once or did you really have to work at it for the song to come together?
JTW: This song was one of the first written with my band, and we picked a heck of a time to do it: the beginning of the COVID lockdown! Because of this, we were never in the same room when we wrote it: I had the guitar hook but didn’t have any lyrics, so I emailed it to Joanna (Smith, bass) and Piper (Brian “Piper” Barbre, drums) and asked them to record their ideas for what their parts could be. Once I heard them playing along with my guitar, I immediately starting writing. The real challenge was whittling the song down to an acceptable length. I think I had 5 or 6 verses at one point. Once the fiddle and the keys came in, the song really started to sound like us. Thomas (Johnson, keys) and Eddie (Dickerson, Fiddle) have a knack for coming up with parts that weave in and out of each other really nicely.
AH: Because of COVID, did you have to change how you recorded this song? If so, how?
JTW: A majority of this song came together through emails between the different members of the band. I assembled a “map” of the song using Piper and Joanna’s parts, then I’d send something to Thomas, saying, “Hey, how about a keys part in this section,” and so on and so forth. It was funny learning to play this song live for the first time, ’cause the band was never together until after it was finished being mixed.
AH: Do you have any favorite parts of the song — lyrically or musically or vocally?
JTW: I love the line, “Went outside to sneak a kiss, to show her stars that don’t exist.” The second night my wife and I ever hung out, we were with a group of friends, and someone told me that there was supposed to be meteor shower that night. That whole day I kept saying, “We HAVE to stay up for the meteor shower!” When the time came, the two of us were able to separate from the others. It ended up being so cloudy, we didn’t see a single meteor, but it didn’t matter. We stayed up talking, getting to know one another. Every time I say that line, I immediately flash back to that moment.
AH: Please tell us about the video. Where was it filmed? Whose idea was the concept for it? Any great stories about putting it together?
JTW: We filmed it a friend’s property in Remington, Virginia. Piper and Joanna had the initial idea for the video. It was based on the opening credits of the movie, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” using household objects to tell a little bit of the story. We gave the idea to our friend Will Webb (lodusdog9) and he ran with it. Will is a genius behind the camera.
AH: What is your favorite part or aspect of the video? What do you hope the video conveys to those who watch it?
JTW: When we started getting together to learn how to play this song, right before we started filming the video, that was the first time the five of us had all been together in months. It’s fun for me to watch that video cause you can see us having fun again. That’s why I wanted to make music with these people in the first place: they’re my friends. It’s always a good time.
Pre-save/pre-order link for the single: https://show.co/w0pa7DS