Billy Ray Cyrus on 'Old Town Road' Success: 'It Felt Like a Hit' (Exclusive)

When Billy Ray Cyrus first heard "Old Town Road" by Lil Nas X he knew it was a hit, even if other people didn't see the potential in the song like he did. The Kentucky native didn't worry about what genre "Old Town Road" would fit in, and couldn't have predicted the massive success the song would achieve, but he did have a feeling the song would at least reach a lot of people.

"It felt like a hit," Cyrus told "I mean, I just go on instinct. I really don't have a whole lot of talent. I go on instincts, what I feel inside and inside I had this feeling saying 'That's a hit.' And I said, 'I don't know what I can add to it. I like what Lil Nas has going on with it.' But I fell in love with that mandolin. I'm a kid from Eastern Kentucky. I love bluegrass, Bill Monroe, Ricky Skaggs, Earl Scruggs. I mean I love bluegrass.

"When I heard 'Old Town Road,' to me it was bluegrass," he continued. "Even one step behind, like it was outlawed as country music it was even beyond country music, it was bluegrass. And sure it had a different sound, but it was a mandolin with words that meant something. And that's what bluegrass is. And through the genesis and the roots of that, that's how I approached the song."

"Old Town Road" was already on the charts when Cyrus was asked to collaborate on the song. Little did he know that "Old Town Road" was about to be banned from country radio –– or go on to set a new chart record.

"When I wrote my verse and recorded it, the song was at No. 19. And my goal was to take it to No. 1 on the country charts," Cyrus recounted. "Three days after I recorded it and wrote my verse, it was kicked off the charts. Honestly no one could tell me, is the record even going to come out? I was freaking out. I said, 'No, this was meant to be. I know it's meant to be. This is a hit.' And on April the 4th on a Friday, it came out ,and it was just days after, really after I'd finished it.


"It came out and just felt like momentum," he added. "I'm a ballplayer and musician. Again, I go by instincts. To me, it felt like momentum. I guess a hit is momentum. And the momentum of this moment was something people could dance to, they could video themselves, they could say funny things. It was a moment."

Photo Credit: Getty / Dimitrios Kambouris