American country music singer-songwriter, session musician and record producer. In his career, he has recorded ten studio albums and eight singles. Two of his singles were hits on the Billboard Hot 100, and six more on the Hot Country Songs charts.
His ninth chart entry came in late 2008-early 2009 as a guest vocalist on Kenny Chesney’s Number One cover of his 1990 single “Down the Road”. He has also produced for Sawyer Brown and Restless Heart, written several singles for other artists, and is a member of Jimmy Buffett’s backing band, The Coral Reefer Band.
Mac McAnally was born in Red Bay, Alabama. He began playing piano and singing in church at the Belmont First Baptist Church in Belmont, Mississippi as a child, and by age fifteen, he had composed his first song. From there, he went on to become a session musician in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. During a session break, McAnally began to perform original material. The producers there encouraged him, and by 1977 he was signed to Ariola Records. His self-titled debut album produced the single “It’s a Crazy World” which reached No. 37 on the Billboard Hot 100. A second album, No Problem Here, was issued a year later, followed in 1980 by Cuttin’ Corners on RCA Records. These latter two albums produced no chart singles. However, he found success as a songwriter for Jimmy Buffett, in addition to co-writing Alabama’s Number One hit “Old Flame”.
McAnally continued to record even while writing for Buffett. Mac eventually signed with Geffen Records with two albums (Nothin’ but the Truth, which included the single “Minimum Love” which reached No. 41 on the Billboard Hot 100, and Finish Lines) being issued in 1983 and 1988, respectively. He and Walt Aldridge co-wrote Ricky Van Shelton’s 1987 single “Crime of Passion”.
In 1990, McAnally signed to Warner Bros. Records, releasing Simple Life that year. This album produced his first Top 40 country hit in the No. 14 “Back Where I Come From.” Kenny Chesney would also record McAnally’s “Back Where I Come From” for his 1996 album Me and You. Also in 1990, Steve Wariner released a McAnally co-write, the Top Ten hit “Precious Thing.” The only other single from Simple Life was the No. 70 “Down the Road”, and by year’s end, he exited Warner Bros.’ roster.
McAnally’s seventh studio album, Live and Learn, followed in 1992, producing three low-charting singles. Also that year, he produced Sawyer Brown’s album The Dirt Road, and continued to produce almost all of their subsequent albums, in addition to co-writing several of the band’s singles between then and the late 1990s, including the Number One “Thank God for You”, as well as the Top Five hits “All These Years”, “Cafe on the Corner”, “The Boys and Me”, and “This Time”. His second and final release for MCA, 1994’s Knots, failed to produce any chart singles, although Linda Davis charted that year with “Company Time”, which he wrote. Throughout the 1990s, McAnally also found work as a session musician, playing guitar on several artists’ albums, in addition to joining Buffett’s road band.
It was not until 1999, when he signed to DreamWorks Records Nashville, that McAnally released his next album. This album, Word of Mouth, also failed to produce any singles. Another album, Semi-True Stories, followed in 2004 on Mailboat Records, the same label to which Buffett is signed. Also in 2004, McAnally and Kyle Lehning produced Restless Heart’s reunion album Still Restless, which included covers of three McAnally songs. In 2008, McAnally was awarded Musician of the Year by the Country Music Association. Also in 2008, he participated in the production of the album Psalngs, the debut release of Canadian musician John Lefebvre.
Kenny Chesney covered McAnally’s 1990 single “Down the Road” on his 2008 album Lucky Old Sun, as a duet with McAnally. This rendition, released in late 2008 as its second single, became McAnally’s first Top 40 country hit since “Back Where I Come From” in 1990. In February 2009, it became his first Number One as a singer. One month later, McAnally signed to Show Dog Nashville, a label owned by Toby Keith. His first single release for the label is “You First”. His first album for the label, Down by the River, debuted at No. 56 on the Top Country Albums chart, becoming his first chart entry on that chart since 1990.
In 2011, Mac McAnally released the new album Live in Muscle Shoals on Mailboat Records, recorded in July 2010 at the W. C. Handy Music Festival in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Appearing with him were the Coral Reefer Band, bassist Jim Mayer and drummer Roger Guth.
Southbound: The Orchestra Project
Mailboat Records 2017
Tracks: It’s a Crazy World, Miracle, The Opposite of Love, On the Line, Back Where I Come From, Southbound, Blame It on New Orleans, It’s My Job, It’s Easy, On Account of You, Zanzibar, All These Years, Dark Age’s, Junk Cars, When Trouble Comes Around & Working Prayer.
Musicians on the Southbound: The Orchestra Project album: Mac McAnally and others.
Mailboat Records 2015
Tracks: A Little Bit Better, Last But Not Least, Missisippi You´re On My Mind, With A Straight Face, Don´t Remember Leaving, Zanzibar, Place Where You Belong, Proud To Be Alive, Better Get The Story Straight, Everything (Ain´t Too High A Price), Loser Gumbo, Coast Of Carolina, Someday, Island Rain & Working Prayer.
Musicians on the AKA Nobody: Mac McAnally and others.
In Muscle Shoals
Mailboat Records 2011
Tracks: It’s a Crazy World, New Orleans Intro, Blame It On New Orleans, Down the Road Intro, Down the Road, Down By the River, Dark Ages Intro, Dark Ages, Pop Top Hop Intro, Pop Top Hop, Miracle, Caf On the Corner Intro, Caf On the Corner, Opinion On Love Intro, Opinion On Love, All These Years Intro, All These Years, This Time Intro, This Time, Bound To Get Down, Little Blue Pill, On Account of You, Last Man Standing, Back Where I Come From Intro, Back Where I Come From, It’s My Job & I Heard It Through the Grapevine.
Musicians on the In Muscle Shoals album: Mac McAnally and others.
Down The River
Show Dog 2009
Tracks: Blame It On New Orleans, Down By The River, If You Hang Around Long Enough, On Account Of You, (Nothing Like A) Sunny Day, Over And Out, You First, Unresolved, Bound To Get Down, Big Disappointment & Until Then.
Musicians on the Down The River album: Mac McAnally and others.
Mailboat Records 2004
Tracks: Meanwhile, Last Man Standing, The Far Side of Heaven, The Opposite of Love, Hard Way to Go, Semi-True Stories, Come on If You’re Comin’, When Trouble Comes Around, Stephon & Home Again.
Musicians on the Semi-True Stories album: Mac McAnally and others.
Word Of Mouth
Dreamworks Records 1999
Tracks: Looking Back, Cold Day In Hell, Things To Do Today, The Ass And The Hole, Pop Top Top, Better Than The Good Old Days, Out The Window, The Way It Goes, Just One Forever & Against The Odds.
Musicians on the Word Of Mouth album: Mac McAnally and others.
MCA Records 1994
Tracks: Down The Road, No Sign Of Weakness, Take It Easy (All I Know About Love), Good For Nothing, Wide Open Spaces, The Knot, There I’ll Be, Ordinary Girl, Something Of Myself & Miracle.
Musicians on the Knots album: Mac McAnally and others.
Live And Learn
MCA Records 1992
Tracks: Only Passing Through, Weight of the World, All These Years, The Trouble With Diamonds, Live And Learn, Still Life, Socrates, Junk Cars, It’s All Over Now, Not That Long Ago & Somewhere Nice Forever.
Musicians on the Live And Learn album: Mac McAnally and others.
Warner Bros 1990
Tracks: Back Where I Came From, Simple Life, Same Old Heart, She´s All I´ve Got Going, Down The Road, Back Where I Came Frome (Reprise), The Invisible Man, Mobile Home, Just That Way, She´s Going Out Of My Mind, Company Time & Southbound.
Musicians on the Simple Life album: Mac McAnally and others.
Geffen Records 1988
Tracks: Finish Lines, Be With Me, Remote Control, Hush Money, History, Alien, Desiree, E=(MC)2, Little Blue Pill & Everything’s All Right.
Musicians on the Finish Lines album: Mac McAnally and others.
Nothing But The Truth
Geffen Records 1983
Tracks: How Cool, Middle Man, On The Line, Minimum Love, Lookin For The Good Life, Like Your Mother, The City, Nothin’ But The Truth, Other People Say & Dark Ages.
Musicians on the Nothing But The Truth album: Mac McAnally and others.
RCA Records 1980
Tracks: It´s My Job, Holdin´On, Cuttin´Corners, Miracle, Second Fiddle, It´s Easy, Tryin´To Make The Yellow Lights, Til´The New Wears Off, Party, California Is A Mental State & Run My Life.
Musicians on the Cuttin´Corners album: Mac McAnally and others.
No Problem Here
Ariola Records 1978
Tracks: Opinion on Love, Funeral, Driving Away My Pain, It’s Only Love, She’s a Doll, The Lord and the Devil, Lazy in Love, Country Boy, Catherine & No Problem Here.
Musicians on the No Problem Here album: Mac McAnally and others.