It almost seems like decades ago now when Chris Stapleton took the entire country music world by storm with the release of his debut album Traveller, and then skyrocketed to superstardom at the 2015 CMA Awards, sweeping his nominated categories, and singing with Justin Timberlake in a now landmark performance. So much else has happened since then to dominate headlines you could almost forget about him, but Stapleton remains one of the biggest artists in all of country music, and his Traveller record still remains curiously near the top of the albums charts every week even four years after its release.
Aside from touring, Stapleton has been shying away from writing, recording, or releasing new music lately. After finally seeing some radio success with “Broken Halos” and “Millionaire,” he’s purposely laid off releasing a new single. As Stapleton has said himself recently, he thinks people are getting a little tired of him, and taking some time for the public to recharge their batteries is probably a smart idea.
But Stapleton is making an exception by contributing to one of the two original songs from the upcoming Toy Story 4 movie to be released on June 21st. Now with four children under the Stapleton roof with wife Morgane, he probably couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be a hero to the kids by recording the Randy Newman-penned “The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy,” which is included in that movie’s ending scene and credits. Consider it Stapleton singing the part of Woody, which is voiced by Tom Hanks.
“To me what has made the ‘Toy Story’ films hold up over time has been the strength of the stories and the songs and the writing and the characters,” says Stapleton. “There’s something for people of all ages to enjoy in the world that is ‘Toy Story.’ It’s a tremendous honor to get to sing a Randy Newman song in what is without question one of the most iconic animated franchises in history.”
“Woody feels like he was a lonesome cowboy until someone comes along and changes his world,” Randy Newman adds. “Chris Stapleton did a great job on this song.”
Ahead of the full soundtrack release for the film on June 21st, “The Ballad of the Lonesome Cowboy” has been made widely available, and gives country listeners an opportunity to hear Stapleton backed by some steel guitar again, and more Western-style music than the country soul of much of his original material. It takes Stapleton back to the time when Western music owed its popularity to the silver screen, and singing cowboys such as Roy Rogers and Gene Autry helped set the foundation for country music as a popular American genre.