Billy Strings Releases New Single ‘John Deere Tractor’ from Upcoming Album ‘ME/AND/DAD’

by Clayton Edwards
(Photo by Erika Goldring/WireImage via Getty Images)

Last month, Billy Strings announced one of his most exciting projects to date. ME/AND/DAD features Strings teaming up with his dad and longtime picking partner Terry Barber. With just two weeks before Billy’s “bucket list” record touches down, he released the third single from the upcoming collection. Listen to the duo perform “John Deere Tractor” below.

Billy Strings handles the lead vocal duties on this single. However, he’s not standing alone here. Those who are familiar with his guitar style will hear that he and Terry trade guitar breaks throughout the song. Additionally, Barber comes in to sing harmony on the chorus. As with the rest of the album, this song shows what a decades-old musical partnership sounds like.

Billy Strings Readies His ‘Bucket List’ Album

Terry Barber started teaching Billy Strings how to play guitar when he was in elementary school. Barber instilled in Strings love and respect for bluegrass and its traditions. He also taught him a songbook full of ‘grass standards. With their collaborative album, they’re sharing songs they’ve been playing together since Billy’s youth.

“As long as I can remember, I wanted to make a record with my dad,” Billy Strings said. “I’ve been burning up and down the highways the last 12 years, and as time slips away, you start thinking ‘I need to make time.’ It’s been a bucket list thing for me, something I’ve been afraid I wouldn’t find the time to do. And that scared me. Not doing this record scared me.”

“John Deere Tractor”

Bluegrass great Larry Sparks was the first to record this Lawrence Hammond-penned song. It was the title track of his 1980 album. Since then, it has been a mainstay at bluegrass jams and on radio stations that play ‘grass.

Country music fans may be more familiar with The Judds’ version of the song. They included it on their 1984 debut EP, Wynonna & Naomi. The iconic duo also included a remastered version of “John Deere Tractor” on their final studio album Love Can Build a Bridge.

Billy Strings and Terry Barber’s rendition of the song picks up the tempo a little. Overall, their arrangement is a little livelier than Sparks’ cut. However, Strings and Barber manage to capture the downtrodden homesick feeling of the original.

ME/AND/Dad Tracklist

  1. Long Journey Home (traditional)
  2. Life to Go (George Jones)
  3. Way Downtown (Doc Watson)
  4. Little Blossom (Hank Thompson)
  5. Peartree (Watson, Gaither Carlton)
  6. Stone Walls and Steel Bars (Ray Pennington, Roy Eugene Marcum)
  7. Little White Church (Eugene Wellman)
  8. Dig a Little Deeper in the Well (Jody Emerson, Roger Bowling)
  9. Wandering Boy (A.P. Carter)
  10. John Deere Tractor (Lawrence Hammond)
  11. Frosty Morn (traditional)
  12. I Haven’t Seen Mary in Years (Damon Black)
  13. Little Cabin Home on the Hill (Lester Flatt, Bill Monroe)
  14. Heard My Mother Weeping featuring Debra Barber (Carl Story, Lowell Blanchard)