The new song can be found on Milligan’s self-titled debut EP, Drake Milligan. Freshly signed to BBR Music Group, Milligan released the EP in July, creating the perfect mid-summer country soundtrack.
“To me, ‘Don’t Look Down’ is about the start of a relationship, told in the scene of perhaps a first dance between two people at a Honky Tonk. It’s all about being in the moment and enjoying the ride,” Milligan tells American Songwriter. “This song is all about living in the moment with someone, not looking at the past or holding back. That’s a good thing to keep in mind, no matter what you’re doing or who you’re with.”
The Fort Worth, Texas native, who relocated to Nashville at the age of 19, is no stranger to the Honky Tonk setting. His Texas roots show through on his favorite line from the track, We’re getting one two-step closer, the closer I hold you the further I fall.
“This line is kind of an ode to the two-step dancing culture back home in Texas. I always enjoyed the tradition of places like Billy Bob’s, where the dance floor is the centerpiece for making new friends, or making memories with old ones,” says Milligan
Although Milligan’s inspiration still sometimes comes from his hometown, his big writing boost came when he arrived in Nashville and had the opportunity to write with some of the greats, including Bill Anderson, Dean Dillon, Monty Criswell, Marv Green, Paul Overstreet, Terry McBride, and Brice Long.
“It wasn’t until I moved to Nashville that I really caught the songwriting ‘bug’. I had spent time writing little songs here and there, but whenever I started being around veteran songwriters in Nashville, I realized co-writing was something I really wanted to be a part of,” says Milligan.
After discovering his passion for songwriting lies in collaboration, Milligan co-wrote all of the songs on the EP. “Don’t Look Down” was written alongside John Pierce and Brandon Hood.
“John Pierce brought the title into myself and Brandon Hood. Brandon and I had been talking about how we wanted to write something with one of those classic Roy Orbison-esque melodies. I knew pretty quick where I wanted to go lyrically with it, and Brandon came up with most of that great melody. It all came together fairly fast, and was one of the earliest songs of the EP,” says Milligan.
Seeking the style of a traditional country artist is common for Milligan, who finds influences in everyone from George Strait and Alan Jackson to Elvis, who he portrayed on CMT’s eight-episode series, Sun Records. Milligan is looking to make his mark by combining classic country melodies and storytelling with his modern perspective.
“[My music is] definitely all planted in solid country music roots,” says Milligan. “Any time I’m contributing to a song, I’m thinking of songwriters like Hank Cochran, Harlan Howard, Willie Nelson, and Dean Dillon as a North Star. I’m also trying to find my own voice and twist on those classic country melodies and ideas.”
Photo by Jay Blakesberg. Check out the video for “Don’t Look Down” below.
Photo by Jay Blakesberg