Few people realize that “Amarillo Sky” wasn’t a Jason Aldean original, but his cover released in 2006 was instrumental in the singer’s rise to stardom and to his credibility within the agricultural community. The song, set on a farm near Amarillo, Texas, immediately struck a chord with farmers who had battled drought and other hardships on their land. The video for the song, which won a CMT Music Award, opens with three young farmers — Arik Miller, Spencer Sage, and Tyler Young — who are dedicated to the craft of their forefathers.
The music video’s director, Wes Edwards, told Songfacts a couple of years ago, “When that song plays, I think everyone pictures an old farmer, so I just said, what if it’s the opposite? That’s unexpected. What if it’s the young guys out there? Then rather than try to cast some dude who’s playing a farmer, let’s see if we can go find real kids who want to do this for a living.”
For several years after the video came out, the trio were local celebrities in their area of central Illinois. Here’s where one of those men is today and what he has to say about staying close to his ag roots.
Then: When Aldean’s manager and staff went looking for people to be in the video, Young’s name came up multiple times in the community. They felt that they had to talk with him, yet the 19-year-old was surprised when they reached out. Young’s farm in Buckley, Illinois, had been in his family for several generations. On the land, they had cattle until Young was 5, then hogs until he was 15. In the music video, he said, “About two years ago, I moved away for about three months. Being away from the farm just killed me. I had to come back. It’s the only thing I know and love.”
Now: Young has been working with his family’s operation, Young Farms, for the past five years. “This is what I grew up doing, and this is what my family built. My grandfather started this thing,” he said. Yet at the urging of his grandfather, Young spent some time doing odd jobs for other families in the local agriculture community; he learned what it was like to be employed by someone other than family. But it was nothing like the three months he lived in Oregon with his brother — that was the stint he referenced in the video. While there in Oregon, he thought, “I can’t do this. I’m too far away from everything I’ve worked for my entire life.”
Young and his family grow corn and soybeans, but he hopes to get back into cattle one day if the cattle market looks optimistic. Either way, he’ll be right on the land he wants to be on.
“To keep it in the family and to hand it down, farming is a real awesome thing to do as long as you have the mental strength to do it,” Young said.
IN ALDEAN’S OWN WORDS
At the time his “Amarillo Sky” video was released, Jason Aldean said, “We went to rural Illinois and knocked on doors to find these three young guys who farm for a living. It was really interesting to hear about some of the challenges they face. ‘Amarillo Sky’ is obviously a song about a farmer, but it also speaks to everyone who has a dream and prays to God not to take it away.”