Nearly 30 years after writing “Every Rose Has its Thorn” in a Dallas laundromat, Poison frontman Bret Michaels has released True Grit, a full-fledged country album featuring new songs, stripped-down Poison hits and rootsy recordings from his previous solo records. Included in the mix is the album’s bro-approved single, “Girls on Bars,” which Michaels wrote with Luke Laird, and a revamped version of “Every Rose Has its Thorn,” recorded at Loretta Lynn’s Tennessee ranch and featuring guest vocals from the country icon herself. (Hear the latter tune below.)
Michaels first strummed his way through “Every Rose Has its Thorn” in 1987, during a cross-country tour in support of Poison’s debut album. The band had just played the Ritz, an old movie theater located off Northwest Highway in Dallas, and Michaels needed to wash his stage clothes. Before heading to the laundromat, he picked up the hotel phone and called his girlfriend back in Hollywood, hoping to catch her before she went to bed. When she answered, though, he heard a male’s voice whispering in the background. Heartbroken, Michaels grabbed his acoustic guitar, left the hotel and wrote his band’s biggest hit while washing a load of whites.
Chalk it up to the influence of the Lone Star State, perhaps, but “Every Rose Has its Thorn” — with its acoustic guitars and cowboy references — brought Poison closer to the world of country music than ever before. Over the following decades, Michaels re-recorded the song several times, even ramping up the twang for a version that appeared on 2005′s Freedom of Sound. Eight years later, he gave the tune another country makeover, this time working with Loretta Lynn and a makeshift band of Reagan-era rockers, including Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and Bon Jovi’s Hugh McDonald. Originally released on 2013′s Jammin With Friends, the Lynn-Michaels duet makes a second appearance on True Grit, which hits digital stores this week.
When it comes to modern country, though, “Girls on Bars” is Michael’s most Nashville-friendly song to date. The new single was hatched during a long, cold winter tour, during which Michaels reached out to Luke Laird — the Nashville based hit-maker behind Eric Church’s “Talladega,” Little Big Town’s “Pontoon” and Kenny Chesney’s “American Kids,” among many other hits — with the idea to tag-team a new track glorifying the golden days of summertime. The result is a party anthem about “hot chicks, cold beer” and the bro-country-worthy urge to “put a little ‘hell yeah’ in this town.” The song’s music video, which Michaels co-directed, offers much of the same, with the bandana’d singer blowing off his job at an auto shop before hitting up the local saloon, where the dress code appears to demand little more than Daisy Dukes, cowboys hats and bikini tops. Luke Bryan and Florida Georgia Line are nowhere to be found. . . but their influence is definitely felt.
Michaels, who co-headlined the Toadlick Music Festival last weekend with Lee Brice, Alabama and Hank Williams, Jr., hits the road this month for a summer-long solo tour.