Gavin Degraw On Covering Kenny Chesney At 2011 CMT Awards

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(Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for CMT)

(Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for CMT)

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We’re all suckers for a good cover song. Whether it’s a country version of Adele‘s “Someone Like You” or the leader of the free world taking on Carly Rae Jepsen‘s hit “Call Me Maybe” – it’s always interesting to see how artists tackle the work of their peers.

Last year, country star Kenny Chesney personally asked Gavin DeGraw to perform a cover of his song “Somewhere With You” at the 2011 CMT Artists of the Year ceremony. In a recent interview with Jim & Kim, DeGraw said he took on the challenge without realizing the song he would be performing had several words that are sung at a fast pace.

“I took this on not realizing that the song, ‘Somewhere With You,’ had more words than any song I had ever heard,” Degraw said. “There were thousands of words, pages and pages of words.”

DeGraw continued, saying Chesney would ask him how things were going in regards to the song, and all he could think about was all the words he had to memorize.

Before the performance, Gavin had an idea. He took the time re-write the lyric, specifically spacing out the words for the teleprompter, thinking that he would be reading from side to side. Once he got on stage to perform, he said he became extremely nervous when he realized the crowd was full of A-list country music stars, and the teleprompter screen read downwards instead of sideways. It was also about 30 yards away, where he could barely read it.

“Man, I was freaking out,” Degraw said.

He said he has yet to watch a video of the performance, but he guesses that he looks like he’s really into the song, squinting at a bright light, but he was actually trying really hard to read all of Kenny’s lyrics.

“It was like a government eye test to get your drivers license,” he said. “They’re like ‘Can you read the very, very, very bottom?’ You know what I mean?”

After the show, DeGraw and Chesney were hanging out when Gavin mentioned that he owned a bar, The National Underground, in Nashville. He said Chesney immediately wanted to play at his bar with him.

Gavin’s response: “I was like, ‘Kenny Chesney, if you play my bar, I will cover any one of your songs at any moment, but never this song ever again.'”

Photos: Gavin DeGraw In Studio >

–Sarah Scroggins, CBS Local/Fresh 102.7

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