When Clay Walker told George Birge he needed to get on TikTok, the songwriter and former band member of Waterloo Revival took the hint that his social media participation was long overdue.
“In my mind, TikTok was reserved for twerking and pranks,” Birge tells American Songwriter over the phone, laughing at the irony of his misconception.
He and Walker became friends while writing Walker’s current single “Need A Bar Sometimes,” and “Catching Up With An Ol’ Memory,” from his forthcoming album. On a writing trip to Walker’s beach house in Galveston, the enduring country star asked Birge about his vision for the future and his career.
“I told Clay what was up,” says Birge. Since he moved to Nashville 6 years ago, the Texas native has worked on several different music projects with varying success until Wide Open Music approached Birge for a publishing deal. Beyond his work with Walker’s album, he has also written songs with artists such as Matt Stell, Chris Lane, Gary LeVox, and Jay Demarcus.
“At the time, I thought that was my calling, my path—sleep in my own bed, walk to the mailbox and collect checks. But I guess there was a part of me that never gave up the artist dream.”
Once he logged into his new account and clicked the #countrymusic, he soon discovered a viral video of a made-up song from influencer and music educator Erynn Chambers, who joked that men in country music only sing about “Beer beer, truck truck, girls in tight jeans.”
“It had gone viral because she made a great point,” he says, laughing. “But, of course, I’m gonna try to defend country music and take those lyrics and show her that even with the most cliche lyrics, we can write a cool song.”
And so he did. That night before dinner, Birge scribbled down a quick chorus response and posted it. He had 10 followers.
After they got back to Walker’s house that evening, he had 10,000 followers. By the next morning, it was nearing 30,000. Over two weeks, the chorus video had gone viral, accumulating nearly 130,000 followers.
“I never intended to finish this song,” says Birge. “But there was such a demand that when I got home from Galveston, I finished it and posted a demo on YouTube. And people were instantly drawn to it. I was nervous about what Erin might think too, but it turns out she listened to a lot of country music growing up and loved it.”
From there, he went into the studio and recorded it with a full band. Now signed to RECORDS Nashville, “Beer Beer, Truck Truck,” is Birge’s first single from a forthcoming debut EP.
“Even though it’s a rebuttal to a joke. I tried to write this as the best I could to kind of stand up for country music,” he continues. “And I wanted the production to feel good, something you actually want to turn up, and play on repeat. It’s kind of a teaser for what the rest of the album is going to sound like and what we’ve got cookin.'”
Having surrendered his dreams of being an artist, recording this song and others for the upcoming project in the studio with a hand-selected team of Nashville studio musicians felt more like a fantasy. “I basically had full goosebumps for six hours,” he laughs. “But seeing them come to life, I felt like I created an identity that day in the studio. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do, and never knew if I’d have an outlet to do so.”
The artist cut songs he had been subconsciously stacking up over the years as a writer, unsure of their final home until this point in his career. Birge pulled songs from other projects, even one he initially wrote for Jason Aldean, who graciously agreed to hand it back to him for his solo project.
“I was writing for myself without knowing it for awhile,” he explains. “I was holding onto them, and finally realized, why don’t I just champion these for myself?”
The music here is rooted in the neo-traditionalism that drew him into country music at a young age. From years of hard work and vast influence, Birge drives these songs pioneer new sonic territory within that soundscape, allowing for his music to serve as a gateway to country for listeners outside of the genre.
“Hearing how it turned out on the back end, ‘ve never been more proud of something musically,” says Birge. “And I feel like it’s the beginning of something really special and really just the beginning of the rest of my life. I feel unbelievably lucky to have gotten that shot.”