With a supercharged Dodge Charger and armed with a traditional voice built for country music blazing onto the Nashville scene in the early 1980’s, he went on to become one of Billboards top selling solo artists of that time. Racking up four No. 1 songs, 8 top ten songs, 3 top ten albums and 1 No.1 album. He has starred in many hit TV shows including Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and the Have Nots,” “Smallville,” The Dukes of Hazzard (as Bo Duke), and most recently, he did very well on “Dancing with the Stars.”
A little over one year ago he launched a new adventure turning the page and making music his number 1 priority again. This is a look at John Schneider and his recent song “Too Close for Comfort,” (AKA “Poets & Ramblers”), a duet with Heidi Newfield of Trick Pony.
In his early days John Schneider walked with legendary “Poets and Ramblers” of the Golden Age of County Music, including Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and so many more. How did “Too Close for Comfort” became part of John’s music? He explains: “We were at Country Radio Seminars (CRS) in Nashville being interviewed about “The Odyssey Project” and I happened to ask Jessi Maness, who was interviewing me, if she had any songs that she’d like me to hear. Like any really good songwriter in Nashville, she did, and handed me a CD. Now I don’t know that a single was ever birthed this way out of CRS and I am very proud that this one came about this way. I put her CD in my backpack and went back to Louisiana. Somehow (I probably had 50 CD’s in that backpack) hers got put in the trash. I have an odd kind of memory because when I was taking the trash out I saw a few CD’s on the top. One of them was hers and I remembered that I hadn’t heard it yet because I recognized the handwriting on the label. Well… I washed the CD off in the sink and dried it on my shirt and headed to the dumpster. On the way to the dumpster I stopped at the truck and put the CD in. When “Too Close For Comfort” came through the speakers I knew it was a hit. I did have one request for Luke Maness, Jessi Rae Maness, Billy Phillips, Jonathan Singleton and that was that they extend the bridge so that whoever I got to sing the female part of the duet with me would have equal say in this great story about life. They did just that and wrote a fantastic extended bridge that Heidi Newfield sang perfectly. Now I know how Kenny Rogers felt when he stepped in front of a mic with Dottie West to do one of their great duets. What an honor!
Luke Maness explains how this song has lived a life of its own. In 2003 Luke, Billy Phillips and Jessi Rae were a songwriting team all living in Nashville Tennessee. They wrote every Tuesday at 2 pm and in one of those writing sessions, Jessi gave Luke and Billy a title “Too Close for Comfort”. Considering themselves renegades Luke and Billy wrote the first verse and chorus and part of the second verse of “Too Close for Comfort.” For some reason they stopped and didn’t finish the song and the song sat in a notebook and as a rough recording on a computer for over two years. In late 2005 Luke Maness had a songwriting session with one of his former band mates, Jonathan Singleton. Trying to think of something to write about Luke came across the unfinished recording of “Too Close for Comfort.” With the OK from Billy and Jessi, Luke took the song to his writing session with Jonathan and they finished the second verse and wrote a bridge.
Then the song was put back away for a couple more years, until January of 2008 when Luke and Jessi were married and rewrote the song as a duet and began performing it in most of their shows. Billy Phillips had Cerebral Palsy and sadly passed away in 2011. In February of 2018 Jessi Rae Maness was interviewing John Schneider and pitched him the song for an album he was recording. A couple of months later John Schneider called Jessi and informed her that he was going to record “Too Close for Comfort” but requested they extend the bridge. Jessi immediately wrote the extended bridge under inspiration and eventually reached Luke, telling him about her conversation with John Schneider. They submitted it to John and he loved it – – and he recorded it two months later.
John Schneider and Heidi Newfield performed “Too Close for Comfort” at the Grand Ole Opry back in February and you can see that video on Schneider’s Facebook page.