Chris Roberts wasn’t looking to become a musician. In fact, Roberts had established himself in Aspen, Colorado as a custom hat maker in his shop called the Aspen Hatter. As a successful self-made entrepreneur in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, Roberts was poised to kick up his feet and enjoy the view. Yet despite his accomplishments, his creativity overflowed the brim of his hats and seeped out into the world. People began to notice Roberts’ musical inclinations.
“I was making the hats, and then I got some other people to help make the hats,” Roberts began. “So I would sit in the corner of the shop and fiddle on my guitar. People would say, ‘What are you doing? Are you not doing anything with that?’”
After one too many customers insisted that he had a musical calling, Roberts switched hats and fully embraced songwriting. Today, American Songwriter is debuting one of the charming singles that came from Roberts’ career change. “Hate When You’re Gone” is exclusively premiering below on American Songwriter before its official debut tomorrow.
In addition to its exclusive premiere, American Songwriter sat down with Chris Roberts to talk about the polished and heartfelt sound of “Hate When You’re Gone” along with the single’s creation story.
“I came to the boys and said I’d like to write a piano song,” Roberts said. A seemingly simple request for a band of musicians, but Roberts then backtracked to explain why he felt inspired to write a piano song. Roberts revealed that before he and his band sat down to write this song, the Coronavirus pandemic had just hit and all of their tour dates were subsequently canceled. In the midst of the chaos, Roberts recognized he had to adjust once again. So, the group took a beat, packed it up and hit the road to find inspiration.
Roberts and his crew ended up in Joshua Tree, California at a state-of-the-art recording studio attached to a friend of a friend’s house. It was here, where the weight of the world and the universal tinges of missing loved ones, boiled up to create “Hate When You’re Gone.”
“‘Hate When You’re Gone’ is a song about how people who we love, when they’re not with us anymore, how big of an impact that can have on our lives,” Roberts said. “Really it is about some of the special people I’ve had to leave behind and some who have had to leave me. It’s just that way I guess… sort of a heartfelt one here.”
This song is truly a mesmerizingly rhythmic piano song. The piano chords open up the song’s rich introspection with a sprawling emotional reach that makes you sway in your seat. Roberts emphasized that it’s the raw emotion of a song that makes it great. “We [songwriters] have to go through these emotions, and then have to be willing to say them,” Roberts said. He continued to describe that “what we want as artists” is for listeners to grab onto that emotion that is woven into songs.
Grabbing onto the emotion of “Hate When You’re Gone” is easy to do. Not only does the sound fill up your soul, but Roberts’ lyrics tap into the well-known feelings of dread when that special someone is missing from your life. “Your love is a melody/ that I sing every day/ but I can’t find the words/ when you’re gone – gone away/ I know that well make it/ yeah we’ll find a way/ darling/ So this is the song that I sing/ when you’re gone – gone away…”
Photo Credit: Kimberly Hunt