Back when relatively few fans knew Taste of Country RISER Cody Johnson’s name, the Texas native would play random gigs in random cities, covering random Brooks & Dunn songs.

“There has been no one who has ever played country music and didn’t play ‘Neon Moon’ for tips before,” laughs Johnson during a recent interview in Chicago with Taste of Country. “I’ve listened to [B&D] my whole life.”

So naturally, when the call came for Johnson to join fellow country artists such as Luke Combs, Jon Pardi and Kane Brown on Brooks & Dunn’s upcoming collaboration album Reboot, he was over that neon moon.

“It’s an absolute honor,” says Johnson, whose first major label release Ain’t Nothin’ To It debuted on Billboard’s Country Albums chart. “When I went to do my vocals on 'Red Dirt Road,' Kix [Brooks] and Ronnie [Dunn] came into the studio and hung out, and it was just very fun to see.”

Johnson says he has always had quite the connection to “Red Dirt Road,” but was somewhat surprised at the treatment Brooks and Dunn had in mind for the song.

“[They} really had a vision for these songs,” Johnson recalls. “Some of them, they wanted to do exactly like the original—and then some they wanted to take a different turn on. When I heard the demo for ‘Red Dirt Road,’ I thought, ‘well, this is completely different. This is like if the Eagles recorded ‘Red Dirt Road.’ It was very organic and different and very stoic.”

And while the recording session was one in which dreams are made of for Johnson, so was the time that the three spent together just hanging out and talking about life outside the studio.

“They say be careful meeting your heroes, because most of the time your heroes are assholes—but these guys are just about as good as they come,” concludes Johnson. “They are just good country boys. We sat around and talked about cutting horses, and music growing up, and how fun it was. I mean, it just doesn’t get better than that.”

Watch Cody Johnson Pour His Heart Into a Brooks & Dunn Classic

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