Joe Diffie

Joe Diffie

The beauty of country music is its ability to reflect the lives of its listeners, and few artists have
celebrated life’s challenges and triumphs with more heartfelt eloquence than Joe Diffie. Whether
singing about untarnished love in the enduring hit “John Deere Green,” the perennial appeal of
“Pickup Man” or the heartbreak of dreams unrealized in “Ships That Don’t Come In,” Diffie’s songs
have continually painted a portrait of real life with all its joy and angst.

“I’ve always loved well-written songs,” says the Grammy winner, who is just as skilled at writing hits
as he is singing them. “There’s really no magic formula. I’ve just always drawn on my own experience
whether it’s falling in love or hanging out in a bar. I feel like if I relate to it, other people will too.”

That simple barometer has served Diffie well throughout his career and continues to do so today
with.the title track of his forthcoming album I Got This. The uptempo number proclaims what every
man wants to say and every woman wants to hear: “Ain’t no load gonna get too heavy/Ain’t no bolt on
this old Chevy I can’t twist/I can run the blade on a D8 ‘dozer//With the same hand I can pull you
closer/Girl, if all you need’s a long, slow kiss, I got this.” Part mechanic and all romantic, Diffie exudes
the good-natured charm that has made him one of country music’s most revered statesmen.

A native of Tulsa, OK, Diffie is a member of the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame and has been a
member of the Grand Ole Opry for 25 years. A star athlete in high school, he originally set his sights
on a medical career, but his love for music won out and he began performing in a gospel group. He
paid the bills by working in a foundry and later joined a bluegrass band before deciding to give
Nashville a try. He got a job working in the warehouse at Gibson Guitars, but felt like he wasn’t any
closer to making his dreams come true.

He was on the verge of moving home when a conversation with his dad changed his destiny. “The
best advice I ever got was from my dad,” Diffie recalls with a smile. “He said, ‘If you don’t have a goal,
you don’t have anything to shoot at. Do something every day towards your music. Write a song or
play your guitar.’ I took that to heart and made sure I did something every day whether it was big or
little. I remember getting out of bed one time because I had forgotten to do something towards my
music. I actually got up, got my guitar and played for a few minutes and then went back to bed. I feel
like that had something to do with the success that I’ve managed to achieve. I think it would apply in
anything. I lived, breathed, ate and slept music all the time. I was so obsessed with it.”

That passion and dedication to his dream paid off. His first break came when Holly Dunn recorded
“There Goes My Heart Again” and asked him to sing harmony. “I remember going to the mailbox one
time and getting the first check from that song and was like, holy crap! I need to write some more
songs! I hadn’t seen that much money in my whole life,” he laughs.

By 1990, Diffie had signed with Epic Records and released his debut album A Thousand Winding
Roads. His very first single, “Home,” hit No. 1. He continued to dominate the charts throughout the
90s with such hits as “New Way (To Light Up an Old Flame),” “If the Devil Danced (In Empty
Pockets),” “Is It Cold in Here,” “Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox (If I Die),” “So Help Me Girl,” “Bigger
than the Beatles” and “Third Rock from the Sun.” Jason Aldean paid tribute to Diffie and namechecked
many of the veteran entertainer’s classics in his hit “1994.” The video featured Luke Bryan,
Thomas Rhett, Little Big Town, Jake Owen and others paying homage to the man who influenced

“It was a nice shot in the arm and it’s amazing to me the impact that it’s had. A lot of fans are coming
to my shows now to see who the dude is that Jason and Thomas are talking about,” Diffie says,
noting that Thomas Rhett co-wrote the song and often plays it in his shows. “The really amazing thing
is the fans know every song that I sing. We’ll go to a place and they’ll be a bunch of younger people
and they’ll know every single word. Obviously, they’ve gone back and done some research or
downloaded something. It’s pretty cool.”

Nevertheless, Diffie has trouble seeing himself as an elder statement because he’s just as active as
ever. Most recently Diffie has teamed with producer Phil O’Donnell a.k.a. “Phillbilly” to craft I Got This.
“Phil’s very inventive and is such a pleasure to work with. He has some unique ideas. He’s kind of laid
back like me.” Diffie says. “He did a great job.”

With nearly 30 years in the spotlight, Diffie has no plans to slow down. “I love music. It’s just a part of
me,” he says. “Retiring would be like cutting off my arm or something. I enjoy everything about it. The
travel part gets old once in a while admittedly, but I love the fans. It beats working any day.”