May 9 is a sad anniversary for country fans: the 31st anniversary of revered singer/songwriter Keith Whitley’s passing.
To commemorate his father, Whitley’s only son and namesake, Jesse Keith Whitley is self-releasing the mid-tempo country rocker “Try to Change My Ways,” which premieres below. Its is the first single from Whitley’s forthcoming album. Whitley’s mom is country singer Lorrie Morgan. His father died in 1989 from alcohol intoxication shortly before Whitley turned 2.
The first time Whitley heard the song, written by Kirk Roth and Robert Kemp, it resonated with him, especially such lines as, “My blood runs through these Kentucky hills/stand for the stars and stripes and always will.”
“I immediately thought about my dad because anytime I cross that state line into Kentucky, I feel my dad all around,” says Whitley, whose father was grew up in Sandy Hook, Ky. “Knowing he had seen the same road I’m driving on. Everyone in his home town still to this day loves him and worships that name. So it’s an odd feeling sometimes driving through his hometown and through those hills knowing this is where my blood comes from.”
This is not the first time Whitley has commemorated his father’s passing through song: he released his debut album, Kentucky Thunder, in 2011 on May 9.
“Try to Change My Ways” is available for pre-order here.