This is the song that you’ll be happy is stuck in your head all day.

It’s no secret that Asheville is a well-loved and vibrant city. When you walk the streets, you can feel the love people have for it as you take in the many murals, street performers, local brewers and food, and a sense of an outdoor-loving community. Doesn’t Asheville just make you want to sing about it?

Thanks to Country musician Don Clayton, you can! His new record, Land of Sky is an anthem to Asheville, NC and perfectly encapsulates everything we Asheville is about.

The record, which was recorded and produced at Echo Mountain, features over 15 local musicians including Kat Williams, Josh Blake, Spaceman Jones, Leigh Glass, Ben Phan and more.

With the inclusion of multiple Asheville artists and performances shot in multiple local hotspots, the song celebrates the diverse and dynamic music scene that greatly exemplifies one of the many things that make Asheville so special.

“It’s sort of a ‘we are the world’ collaborative effort”, says Clayton. “When thinking about all of the things that make Asheville such a wonderful place. It was almost like thinking about writing a love song to Asheville.”

With the support of local enterprises such as Explore Asheville, Octopus Gardens and Finkelstein’s, director Daniel Judson created a virtual tour of Asheville with the music video. It “takes the audience on a journey through the Asheville experience – from LEAF festival and LaZoom tours to drinking local beers with friends and even friendlier strangers.”

We picked Don Clayton’s brain a bit to learn more about the creation of this ode to Asheville

BRO: How did this project begin/ what inspired the idea?

I wrote the song while sailing in Polynesia from Tuamoto Archipelago to Papeete Tahiti. I was thinking about home in  Asheville and started humming the hook and rhythm and it just evolved.  

BRO: What brought you and the 15 local musicians together to create this?

The project really began to take shape after I Played the song for Crissa Requate, who is a local leader in the music industry. She liked the song and of course, that’s always encouraging to a writer and she suggested the seeds of the idea. Then Crissa introduced me to Jessica Thomason who is another great woman who is a leader in the arts and music industry locally and nationally. She began to add a little more flesh to the idea and then both these fantastic ladies arranged an introduction to the folks at tourism for the city of Asheville Explore Asheville. They all heard this as the love song to Asheville that it is and really suggested the idea of trying to bring in different musicians to help develop the idea. 

BRO: Did the end product live up to your original vision for it?

I think in many ways it actually exceeded my original vision.  It began to grow -particularly with the idea of bringing in so many other local musicians and local attractions into the video and visual aspect of the production

BRO: What is your favorite line in the song?/ favorite moment in the video?

1. “Everybody’s talking about it writing songs and books about it -yoga -meditation -microbrews and massage”

2. I’m bound to settle down in a cabin by a stream just east of the smoky mountains and the land of the Cherokee

BRO: We all agree Asheville has so much to offer and your song perfectly captured all of the things that make it so great! Is there anything you would change or a line that maybe didn’t make the final cut?

This is the only song I’ve ever written that I actually got in at three minutes long. So yes, there were numerous lines that I wanted to include – lyrics and places that’s I wanted to sing about. There were other visual aspects we wanted to include as well, but we had to be succinct. I felt that we wanted to get in and capture the essence of Asheville and keep the listener’s attention – part of the craft and art of songwriting is to be able to get to the point, say what you need to say it and get the listeners attention in a really short time. 

But to be direct and answer your question yes I have a lyric book FULL of discarded lyrics and lines for this song. 

BRO: What’s your favorite part about Asheville?

It’s timeless beauty. These mountains have been the home of humans for thousands and thousands of years. To walk the streams and trails of these mountains and valleys in and around Asheville, and to contemplate the lives, the loves, the pains the sorrows, the children, their births and deaths and the spirit of these countless humans who have peopled these mountains – I sometimes find emotionally overwhelming.  It is the mystery and mysticism of these mountains that I love. 

What’s your favorite ______________ in / from Asheville?

  1. Eating Spot – Bouchon’
  2. Drinking Spot My back deck. Overlooking the mountains. 
  3. Hike/Outdoor Activity – Waterfall hikes. they’re secret 
  4. Artist – Lenny Pentenelli  and Brian Turner 
  5. Activity to do – Drive mountain roads and hike mountain trails. 
  6. Music Spot – Echo mountain 
  7. Jamming/Songwriting/Mind Clearing Spot – Meditate in quiet mountains by streams 
  8. Beverage – Gaelic Ale 

Don Clayton Biography 

Don Clayton composes songs that are raw and emotional, entertaining and honest, much like the human experience. With a degree in Music Education from Auburn University, he has been playing music for over 40 years. After completing a successful career in hospitality, Clayton’s uplifting, and at times humorous, stories of life, friends, family, love, joy, and beauty, pay homage to a lifelong passion for music.