How Colt Ford Helped Jason Aldean Land a Country-Rap Hit With “Dirt Road Anthem”

After leaving his professional golf career behind and venturing into country music, Georgia-born Colt Ford soon had co-writing credits with the alt-rockers Lit, along with Brantley Gilbert, Jamey Johnson, Jeremy Popoff, and more.

On Ford’s 2008 debut Ride Through the Country, released on the label he co-founded, Average Joes Entertainment, the album featured a collection of special guests, including Johnson, No Doubt drummer Adrian Young, John Michael Montgomery, and rapper Bone Crusher. Brantley Gilbert also sang on the chorus of “Dirt Road Anthem,” which he co-wrote with Ford.

Soon after the release of Ride Through the Country, Gilbert took a stab at “Dirt Road Anthem,” and released it on his 2010 album Halfway to Heaven, reversing the roles with Ford on guest vocals.

Videos by American Songwriter

[RELATED: Exclusive: Jason Aldean and the Songwriters of “Try That in a Small Town]

Georgia Dirt Roads

First written by the two in Gilbert’s home in Georgia, “Dirt Road Anthem” was the first collaboration for the two. Ford would also co-write “Country Must Be Country Wide” on Gilbert’s Halfway to Heaven, along with Mike Dekle.

“Dirt Road Anthem” was inspired by different events, places, and memories in Ford and Gilbert’s lives and the dirt road gatherings they grew up around with the ice-cold beer and bonfires. “We didn’t know when we were writing it that anybody would give a s–t about dirt roads,” said Ford of the duo’s song.

Yeah I’m chilling on the dirt road
Laid back swervin’ like I’m George Jones,
Smoke rollin’ out the window,
An ice-cold beer sittin’ in the console
Memory lane up in the headlights
It’s got me reminiscing on the good times
I’m turning off the real life, driving that truck
I’m hittin’ easy street in mud tires

Back in the day Potts farm was the place to go
Load the truck up hit the dirt road,
Jump the barbwire spread the word
Light the bonfire then call the girls
King in the can and the Marlboro man
Jack and Jim were two good men
When we learned how to kiss and cuss and fight too
Better watch out for the boys in blue
And all this small town he said she said
Ain’t it funny how rumors spread
Like I know something y’all don’t know
Man that talk is getting old
You better mind your businessman watch your mouth
Before I have to knock that loudmouth out
I’m tired of talkin’ man y’all ain’t listenin’
Them old dirt roads is what y’all missin’

[RELATED: A Rebel By Nature: The Colt Ford Q&A – 2011]

Snoop Dogg

When Jason Aldean started working on his fourth album My Kinda Party, he covered “Dirt Road Anthem,” which went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and peaked at No. 7 on the Hot 100. The song was the first and only country-rap song for Aldean, who reportedly listened to Snoop Dogg to pick up on the cadence of the track.

“It’s different, no doubt,” said Aldean. “But it still talks about that same sort of rural thing as ‘Amarillo Sky’ [Aldean’s 2006 single]. It just does it in a different way. Being from Georgia, I thought I’d be pretty bad at talking fast, but apparently, I’m pretty good at it.”

Still, Aldean denied that “Dirt Road Anthem” was a rap song at all. “I don’t know why all these nasty rumors about rap songs keep coming up,” said Aldean. “It’s not a rap song. I never say never but I will say that I’m a country singer. I am definitely not a rapper. So if I was to do anything like that, it’s not going to be Kanye West-style or anything.”

Aldean later performed the song with rapper Ludacris at the 2011 CMT Music Awards.

Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

On the Anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s Death, Here’s a Look at Nirvana’s Scrapped Plans to Headline Lollapalooza 1994

Kurt Cobain’s Fear of Selling out & the Story Behind Nirvana’s Scrapped Plans to Headline Lollapalooza 1994