Chris Janson Reflects on Living in His Car: 'I Felt Like I Was Winning'

Chris Janson is a true rags to riches story. The Missouri native moved to Nashville right after he finished high school, living on a dream and doing whatever he could to make ends meet. Janson struggled to make ends meet while he was playing wherever he could, famously living out of his car for quite a while. But, perhaps surprisingly, even though that might have seemed like a low point in Janson's life, he never looked at it that way.

"I look at my life in seasons," Janson told "At the time, the word 'homeless,' if you will, can mean so many things. It can mean so many things for so many people. I never felt homeless. I always felt like I had a home. I guess I did back in Missouri. I had a great home life. Everything was fine. I don't come from any kind of money or riches or anything. I come from a very blue collar working class family. I mean super blue collar. But when I moved, I was just sleeping in my car and crashing couches every now and again because, frankly, I didn't have time to do anything else.

"I got a bar gig pretty immediately at Tootsies," he continued. "I didn't have time to leave. I just thought, 'Well, I'll just put the backseat down and I'll sleep here.' I mean, I'd done it a million times. Before then, you gotta remember, growing up as a kid I was traveling around ever since I got my license and even before. I'd been traveling around in cars and trucks or whatever and sleeping in the seat all night and playing gigs until 3:00 in the morning."

Janson didn't feel discouraged in the least, but in hindsight, he realizes how much his lack of living quarters must have seemed from the outside.

"It was just second nature to me," Janson said. "In the world's eyes, though, when you move into the music community, everybody's like, 'Oh my God, poor this or poor that.' Poor nothing. I felt like I was winning the whole time in a big way. Not a lot of people get to move to Nashville. Not a lot of people move here with nothing. In the grand scheme of things, looking back now, I had nothing. I didn't have a credit card to fall back on. I don't have a big fund of money to fall back on. I didn't have a second out. It was just either win or lose. That was it.

"It's very cut and dry," he added. "I felt like I was winning from the beginning. I still feel like I'm winning. I mean, there's no difference other than just the size of the house. That's really the only difference."

Janson has had a long string of successes since then, with hit singles like "Buy Me a Boat" and "Drunk Girl," opening spots on some of the biggest tours, and an invitation to join the Grand Ole Opry, meaning he can likely afford any size house he chooses. Still, his favorite home ever might be the first apartment he rented when he finally scraped together enough money.

"It was not so nice, but to me it was like paradise," Janson recalled. "It was on the other side of the railroad tracks in Hermitage. I moved in there with a couple roommates. Back in those days, I remember Tyler Farr was in town a little bit, just getting into town. That's just one name I remember off the bat. He was always crashing on our couch and stuff and vice versa ... I got my first place in Hermitage and I just felt super blessed that I'd made it. Apartments are still cool, there's no worries. I'm okay in confined spaces. That's why I've always felt really comfortable on airplanes or buses or whatever it may be. I'm just comfortable."


Janson just released a new single, "Good Vibes," which is available for download on iTunes.

Photo Credit: Getty images/Matt Winkelmeyer