Bill Anderson Enlists Willie Nelson, Vince Gill, and More on Nostalgic “The Country I Grew Up With”

The longest-serving active member of the Grand Ole Opry, Bill Anderson called on fellow Country Hall of Famers Willie Nelson, Vince Gill, Bobby Bare, and Jimmy Fortune to help him tell the story of the bygone era of country on “The Country I Grew Up With.”

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“So far as I can determine, this is the first country record in history featuring five members of the Country Music Hall of Fame performing on one song,” said Anderson in a statement. “I am so proud that Willie and Vince and Jimmy and Bobby wanted to join me in taking this nostalgic look over our collective shoulders. I just hope it stirs up fond memories for everyone who hears it.”

Co-written by Anderson, Bobby Tomberlin, and Lance Miller, “The Country I Grew Up With” tells the story of the sights, smells and sounds of country music from yesteryear, or seeing Loretta Lynn, and Porter Wagoner, and other legends in the earlier days with each taking on lyrics—You could sit and watch the tractors gone by sings Nelson to Gill’s Neighbors would wave and tell you “hi” interspersed with spoken remembrances, and Anderson’s refrain message of There’s not enough love / There’s too much hate.

“Being a part of ‘The Country I Grew Up With’ is like taking a trip down memory lane,” shared Nelson in a statement. “I’m proud to be a part of this musical tribute to the country we all grew up with.”

Produced by Anderson and Thomas Jutz, the song also features guitarist Thomm Jutz, bassist James Gordon Freeze, drummer John Gardner, Dirk Johnson on piano, Scotty Sanders on pedal steel guitar, and fiddler Tammy Rogers/

For Fortune, it was an honor to sing alongside the four other Hall of Famers. “Just to be a part of this and have someone mention my name in the same sentence as those guys is quite an honor, much less to sing this song with them,” said Fortune. “I was so happy when Bill Anderson called me up and asked me to be a part of it. I really couldn’t believe it. It’s one of the highlights of my life.”

Fortune added, “‘The Country I Grew Up With’ holds a great message: just like everybody else that’s lived the things that we’ve lived and seen the things that we’ve seen, I miss the country I grew up with, and I know you’re going to love the song as much as we all did doing it.”

On the collaboration, Gill added “When I moved to Nashville, I had the good fortune to meet Bill, and we wrote a hit song together. What I’m most grateful for is his friendship. I’m honored that he asked me to be on this song with him and our fellow Country Music Hall of Famers.”

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“Singing on ‘The Country I Grew Up With’ brought back so many memories. Bill has always had a way with words. I’m thankful for our longtime friendship and to have been included on this song,” mentioned Bare.

In 2020, Anderson released The Hits Re-Imagined, a reimagining of some of his former hits as well as some songs by other artists. Earlier in 2023, Anderson was celebrated for his 62-year run with the Grand Ole Opry, making him the longest-serving member in its history. 

Anderson recently presented the award for Song of the Year at the 57th Annual CMA Awards with Sara Evans and is set to be honored in 2024 with the Dr. David Godbold Lifetime Achievement Award by the South Carolina Entertainment and Music Hall of Fame. Inducted by the organization in 1994, Anderson will be its first Lifetime Achievement Award honoree in 2024.

Photo: Terry Wyatt/Getty Images

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