Cary Barlowe Co-Writes New Chris Young Single, Drops “Baptized” Track

Cary Barlowe has made a name for himself in the past decade as one of Nashville’s most successful country writers, with hits by Dustin Lynch, Florida Georgia Line and others. SESAC’s 2015 Country Songwriter of the Year, Barlowe is a co-writer of the new Chris Young single, “Famous Friends,” and has placed a new song online, “Baptized,” featuring himself as the artist.

Barlowe’s career in Nashville started out not in country, though, but in the rock world, as the guitarist for Luna Halo, which was signed by producer Rick Rubin (Tom Petty, Johnny Cash) to Rubin’s American Recordings label in 2005. Barlowe’s brother Nathan was the band’s front man (he’s in Keith Urban’s band these days). While major stardom eluded them, the Barlowe brothers had an assist into the Nashville country scene via a young artist named Taylor Swift, who cut Luna Halo’s song “Untouchable.”

“Just to say that I’ve had a cut with Taylor Swift to this day is pretty cool,” Barlowe told American Songwriter via phone from Nashville. “And she did a great job of making the song her own. Millions of people had no idea who Luna Halo were, and she did [“Untouchable”] on Saturday Night Live, and we actually got quite a bit of attention from her fans.”

Barlowe’s name began to get around Nashville, leading to his co-writing nine number one songs in the Contemporary Christian arena with TobyMac, as well as four number ones in the country genre. “There’s no rhyme or reason as to what works or what doesn’t,” he said. “Like every other writer, I’ve had singles that have come out in the last few years that completely tanked at number 40 or 30 or whatever. I had a Rascal Flatts single that went top 20, and once you’re in the top 20 you’re keeping your fingers crossed that it’ll keep moving up. But dang, it’s crazy out there. You don’t know what’s gonna take off or what’s gonna die at 45.”   

About Chris Young’s “Famous Friends” single, which features Kane Brown, Barlowe said, “Me and Chris and Corey [Crowder] actually wrote that song maybe two and a half years ago now, the same weekend we wrote ‘Raised on Country,’ which was Chris’ single that went top five, it was a big song. But it’s crazy how it was the same weekend we wrote ‘Famous Friends,’ and it’s just now coming out as a single. I think a lot of radio stations have pre-added it, but I think the official add date is January 4th of 2021.”     

Barlowe hadn’t previously taken the plunge as a solo artist, though he’s obviously capable of it. So now he has released “Baptized,” a new single he wrote with Will Weatherly (Chris Janson, Dan Tyminski) and Charlie Handsome (Post Malone, Kidz Bop Kids). “That song was written several years ago, and it got put on hold a few times,” he said. “It got sent around to Keith Urban to Kenny Chesney to all these people. I remember an email from Keith where he said it was really cool but it wasn’t right for his album at the time. At least he responded. A lot of the time it’s just crickets.”

“I just have always loved the song, and I thought my voice fit the song,” he continued. “It’s been one of my favorites, I think it’s really catchy, and during Covid I’ve just thought that I needed to start putting out songs that I loved that people haven’t cut. There’s hundreds of them. I would just rather these songs be heard by somebody than be sitting on my computer.”

Barlowe said that, while the song’s lyrics may seem sexually suggestive or even heretical to some people coming from a writer with a CCM background, he certainly never meant it to be perceived that way. “I was just totally using the word ‘baptized’ as a metaphor, it is a love song. There’s a bit of a sexual thing in there, but it’s not over the top. I wanted it to come across, though, like, with this person that you love, it feels heavenly almost. I wasn’t at all trying to cross the sacrilegious line. It just kind of came out that way, you know what I mean? But no one has said ‘I can’t believe you’d do this,’ though if some people might think that, they haven’t voiced it to me.”

Even though he’s now older and identified with different genres than he was in his youth, Barlowe said he’d like to get back on stage and blow it out again. “I miss playing live and miss the rock ‘n’ roll days for sure,” he said. “Luna Halo had a great run, 10 or 12 years. We were about to do a reunion show, it was sold out, we were doing it at the Mercy Lounge in Nashville. And it was right when Covid hit so they shut down their concerts, so that was a bummer. I’m hoping that when everything gets back to normal that we can reschedule that concert.”

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