6 Songs You Didn’t Know Chris Stapleton Wrote For Other Artists

Before he became a household name in 2015 with Traveller, Chris Stapleton was one of Nashville’s most coveted songwriters. Having penned chart toppers for Kenny Chesney, Luke Bryan, George Strait, and more, his prowess as a musician was being appreciated well before he ever slapped his own name on an album cover. While the country charts were being toppled by songs penned by Stapleton, he took some time to venture out into pop as well, sparking the same magic for Adele, Ed Sheeran, Justin Timberlake, and P!nk.

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Nowadays, Stapleton is more-so known for his Grammy-Award-winning solo music, but his prior work as a songwriter is equally as enticing to explore. We’re going through six songs you didn’t know Chris Stapleton wrote for other artists, below.

1. “Crash and Burn,” Thomas Rhett

Written by Chris Stapleton and Jesse Frasure

When Thomas Rhett got “Crash and Burn” from Stapleton in 2015, his fans were caught unawares by the new sound. Rhett said at the time, “I remember being in my truck, and my business manager, who also business-managed Chris, came out and said, ‘You’ve got to hear this new Stapleton song.’ And all I’d ever heard Stapleton sing were sad, old country songs. And so when this came on my stereo, I was like, ‘This is Chris?’ Chris and my buddy Jesse Frasure wrote this song, and from the moment the song starts you’re hooked.”

Though the lyrics concern themselves with the aftermath of a relationship, the upbeat musicality of the song belies anything too somber. Rhett ran into some controversy with “Crash and Burn” with some saying it “wasn’t country enough” and others noting similarities between the track and Sam Cooke’s “Chain Gang.”

So I guess it’s over, baby
Déjà vu again
Who’d have thought that time don’t stop?
And somehow girl, the world keeps spinning
And guess I’ve turned myself into a solitary man
Ain’t like I’m the only one that’s in the shoes that I am

2. “Draggin’ The River,” Blake Shelton feat. Miranda Lambert

Written by Chris Stapleton and Jim Beavers

“Draggin’ The River” tells the story of a woman faking her own death in order to elope without her father getting in the way. Blake Shelton released this song in 2010 and brought Miranda Lambert along as a feature.

Shelton said at the time, “[Miranda] and I had made this pact that we don’t do cheesy love duets, it’s just not us. So if there was ever a song that was a perfect lyric for us and our personalities, it was ‘Draggin’ the River.’ I think it was meant to be for us, there’s not been a song that I know of that she and I can sing in the same key, and for whatever reason that melody was perfect, that lyric was perfect, and I’m already hearing from fans that it’s one of their favorites.”

But I love you and you love me
So, baby I got to plan
We’ll push my truck off of Red Top Bridge
Right below the Jackson Dam

Hey, they’ll be dragging the river
Catching nothing but an old catfish
They’ll be dragging the river
That’ll show that son of a bitch

3. “Drink a Beer,” Luke Bryan

Written by Chris Stapleton and Jim Beavers

“Drink A Beer” appears on Luke Bryan’s 2013 album, Crash My Party. Stapleton’s lyrics about losing a loved one were attached to Bryan’s story about having lost two of his siblings. Bryan delivered a particularly memorable performance of the track at the 2013 CMA’s (see below). The commiserative song scored Bryan his 7th No. 1 on the Billboard country airplay chart.

When I got the news today
I didn’t know what to say
So I just hung up the phone
I took a walk to clear my head
This is where the walking lead
Can’t believe you’re really gone
Don’t feel like going home

So I’m gonna sit right here
On the edge of this pier
Watch the sunset disappear
And drink a beer

4. “Hold On,” Hootie & the Blowfish

Written by Chris Stapleton and Jim Beavers

“Hold On” was the last track Hootie & the Blowfish recorded for Imperfect Circle and was the only outside cut. Written by Stapleton and Jim Beavers, the lyrics send an uplifting message of looking out for one another. Bassist Dean Felber once said, “I remember listening to it in the back of the bus and it was just perfect, what it meant to me and what it would mean in today’s world.”

“Hold On” clinched Hootie their collective debut on the Country Airplay chart in 2019, despite Darius Rucker’s longstanding success in the genre.

We gotta hold on, we gotta hold on
There ain’t nothing that a little love can’t get us through
We gotta hold on, when it feels like hope is gone
There is a remedy for you and me
We gotta hold on to each other, yeah

People say, let it go
That’s just the way it is, don’t you know
But I don’t see how it can do any harm
To keep reaching out with open arms, yeah

5. “Morning Light,” Justin Timberlake feat. Alicia Keys

Written by Chris Stapleton, Justin Timberlake, Rob Knox, Eric Hudson, and Elliott Ives

“Morning Light” was the second collaboration between Justin Timberlake and Alicia Keys with the first being “How Come You Don’t Call Me” in 2002. In the song, the two pop phenoms sing about their minds being so preoccupied with one another that they can’t get out of bed: look, I can’t even get out of bed / With the thoughts you’re puttin’ in my head. Stapleton and Timberlake have another collaboration on the same album titled “Say Something.”

Look, every time there’s a new sunrise
I open up my eyes
And I say to myself, “In the whole wide world of guys
I must be the luckiest alive”
‘Cause I’m in love with you
Layin’ here in the mornin’ light
And all I wanna do is hold you tight just one more night

6. “Never Wanted Nothing More,” Kenny Chesney

Written by Chris Stapleton and Ronnie Bowman

Kenny Chesney released “Never Wanted Nothing More” in 2007 as the first single from his album, Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates. To date, it’s Chesney’s fastest-climbing No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. The lyrics see Chesney recollect the major highlights of his life: buying his first car, getting married, and finding religion.

During a 2012 performance of the song, Stapleton marked “Never Wanted Nothing More” as a turning point in his career. He said, “This is a song I wrote with a good friend named Ronnie Bowman, it’s actually the first song we ever wrote. We sat down and said, ‘Hey why don’t we write a song that’s like a hit’ and what do you know, we did it. And then this happened… bought me a house, thanks Kenny Chesney.”

I couldn’t wait to turn sixteen
And drive all the boys around
Foot on the gas and hands on the wheel
Was all I could think about

A little rust in the bed of that truck
And a four speed on the floor
Five hundred dollars it was mine, all mine
And I never wanted nothin’ more

Photo by Rich Fury/ACMA2019/Getty Images for ACM

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