First things first: Scotty McCreery realizes that it would be a bit silly for someone as young as 22 to write his life story.
He says upfront that “Go Big or Go Home,” his book that comes out Tuesday, isn’t really meant to be an autobiography.
“It’s more a travelogue of all the cool experiences I’ve had and the awesome places I’ve visited,” he writes.
Most of those experiences came about, of course, from “American Idol,” the TV singing competition that ended last month after 15 seasons on Fox. McCreery competed in season 10, skyrocketing in a few short months from Garner High School junior to “Idol” winner and national recording artist.
Throughout, McCreery, just 17 when this journey started, tried to reconcile his new-found fame with the hometown values he grew up with and his strong Christian faith. It was sometimes an uneasy balancing act.
In the book, he describes the struggle he felt during an “Idol” week when contestants had to sing a song from a movie. Producers suggested Harry Nilsson’s “Everybody’s Talkin’ ” for McCreery, who liked the song and thought it fit his style and voice well. He practiced it and even recorded a version that would be sold on iTunes after the show aired.
I’m having to grow up fast for a seventeen-year-old. Like having to say no to a television executive and music label executive, both of whom have been in the industry longer than I’ve been alive.
Scotty McCreery, writing about his time on “American Idol”
There was just one catch: McCreery knew nothing about the movie the song was from, 1969’s “Midnight Cowboy.” And when he found out that the film is about a male prostitute and was the first (and only) X-rated movie to win a best-picture Oscar, he was not happy. He worried about his fans, he writes, who included “eighty-five-year-old grandmothers and ten-year-old kids.”
“I don’t want them going to check out an X-rated movie. And I sure don’t want people to think I’m watching X-rated movies in my spare time,” he writes. “I’m just trying not to send any sort of wrong message to anyone.”
(The book doesn’t mention that “Midnight Cowboy,” starring Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight, isn’t hard-core pornography and would later have its rating changed to an R.)
McCreery was adamant that he wouldn’t perform “Everybody’s Talkin’ ” on the show, even when producers told him he had no choice and his parents wondered if he was making too big a deal out of things. In the end, McCreery won, though producers weren’t happy that they had to pay overtime for the crew so McCreery could record a new song, “I Cross My Heart,” from the George Strait movie “Pure Country.”
“I’m having to grow up fast for a seventeen-year-old,” McCreery writes. “Like having to say no to a television executive and music label executive, both of whom have been in the industry longer than I’ve been alive.”
Central to that story, as well as many others in the book, is religion. McCreery went off by himself to pray about the outcome before approaching the “Idol” executives.
“Go Big or Go Home” is being released by Zondervan, a leading publisher of Bibles and Christian books, and McCreery’s collaborator is Travis Thrasher, whose credits include many inspirational works.
McCreery talks about praying that rain wouldn’t ruin his big outdoor Garner homecoming concert in 2011 (it held off until just after he’d left the stage). He writes about how he thinks divine intervention led him to meet his touring manager. And he describes how, while he was on tour with country singer Brad Paisley, a backstage guest who said he had the gift of prophecy told McCreery that “God has great plans for me and that I should keep the faith.”
Those who’ve followed McCreery since the “Idol” days have likely heard many of the stories he tells in the book. But he does offer some details that are new.
The trouble with girls is they’re always two steps ahead of us guys. ... The trouble with boys is they’re a bit clueless.
Scotty McCreery, writing about his girlfriend
For example, he elaborates on the 2014 robbery in which four men with guns barged into a Raleigh apartment where McCreery and others were watching the movie “Gladiator” at about 2 a.m. McCreery said the robbers did not recognize him in his T-shirt, shorts and N.C. State cap.
“Maybe I’m just looking a bit too normal for them to think anything about me,” he writes. “Maybe they’ve been too busy being thugs to keep track of Season 10 of ‘American Idol.’ ”
McCreery also talks openly for the first time about his girlfriend, Gabi Dugal, whom he has known since their kindergarten days in Garner. (She once wrote “Mrs. Gabi McCreery,” with hearts, all over her little-girl diary.)
Dugal is the girl McCreery flirts with in his “The Trouble With Girls” music video, which was shot at Garner High. McCreery writes of his own “trouble” with Dugal when, after weeks of talking and texting with each other every day, she was unclear whether they were, in fact, dating.
“The trouble with girls is they’re always two steps ahead of us guys. ... The trouble with boys is they’re a bit clueless,” he writes.
He later met her face to face in the student parking lot at the school and asked whether she wanted to make their relationship official. Dugal said sure.
May 14 has been declared Scotty McCreery Day in Garner, and he’ll be performing and signing copies of “Go Big or Go Home” at First Baptist Church Christian Life Center off N.C. 50.
The event runs from 2:30 to 5 p.m. McCreery will open by singing a few songs, then will take questions from the audience. After that, he will sign copies of the book.
A copy of “Go Big or Go Home” is required for admittance. One book admits two people.
Quail Ridge Books will be selling books in advance and also at the center. Doors to the center open at 2 p.m. Children 13 and younger must be accompanied by an adult.
5 interesting tidbits in ‘Go Big or Go Home’
▪ A longtime baseball pitcher who played for his Garner High School team, Scotty McCreery has his own signature pitch, the “slurve.” It’s a combination of a slider and a curveball, he writes.
▪ He knew his version of the John Anderson country classic “Swingin’ ” was likely to be a bust when he performed it on “American Idol.” But he had vowed to a hometown friend that if he made it on the show, he’d sing that song at some point. During his rehearsal, he saw judge Jennifer Lopez – who usually was a big McCreery supporter – making a face. After he sang live, Lopez and judge Randy Jackson panned his song selection. Even worse for McCreery – his high school friends were in the live audience that night.
▪ When he first met President Barack Obama, McCreery – a lifetime N.C. State fan – razzed the commander-in-chief about his NCAA basketball tournament picks. Obama has picked NCSU rival UNC to win it all at least twice, and McCreery told him he needed to start showing the Wolfpack a little love.
▪ While riding atop the Morton Salt Home Baked Goodness float (a giant muffin pan) in the 2011 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, McCreery had a lip-synching fail when the opening bars of “The Trouble With Girls” were heard playing before he even brought the microphone up to his mouth. McCreery wrote that he had never lip-synched before that, and his first attempt wasn’t successful. “Here’s the truth and you need to brace yourselves ... everybody lip-synchs at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” he writes. “They don’t give you an option – you just do it. And here’s some advice for you aspiring singers out there: Keep the microphone covering your lips before your song starts. I should have known that much, right?”
▪ Among the other celebrities McCreery writes of interacting with were New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who gave McCreery his private cell phone number in case he ever needed anything, and reality TV’s “Long Island Medium” Theresa Caputo, who pointed skyward and told McCreery that she sensed his late grandfather in heaven was watching over him. McCreery also describes laughing backstage at the Rockefeller Center tree-lighting ceremony in New York with “an older guy who’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever been around.” It’s only later that McCreery’s mother told him that the funny guy was actor and comedian Billy Crystal.