Old Dominion’s Brad Tursi Pens Teddy Robb’s Real-Life Love Story in “Question the Universe”

In 2022, Teddy Robb fell in love with a woman who was in a relationship and about to move to Los Angeles. Witnessing the romance unravel, first-hand, Brad Tursi of Old Dominion began writing Robb’s love story on “Question the Universe.”

Videos by American Songwriter

The slow brooding ballad finds Robb questioning why the right person came at the wrong time—Right person, wrong time / She’s perfect / God, why’d you have to do me so dirty like that / Give me everything I want and nothing I can have / Right lover, wrong time.

Produced by Pete Good, “Question the Universe” is one of several tracks on Robb’s upcoming EP, out in 2023, and follows recent singles “Stay Single” and “Pretty Things,” which the country singer calls more “snapshots in his life” now.

Robb chatted with American Songwriter about how Tursi took his love story and ran by writing “Question the Universe,” the narrative behind his forthcoming EP, and why he finally likes his singing voice.

American Songwriter: Technically, “Question the Universe” was written from someone else’s (Brad Tursi’s) perspective about your experience. When you heard it, did you feel like this was a song you were meant to sing?

Teddy Robb: Yes. My friend (Tursi) wrote this song about my love story. We were hanging out the whole week, and he got to witness it from the start. He was hanging with me when I met the girl that the song is written about. He called me on a Friday night. She was leaving on Saturday morning, and we were going to dinner, and he’s like, “Hey, your love story inspired me. Would you want to come over and finish this song?” He sent me a little bit of notes that he was working on. I said  “Absolutely. I’m on my way over.” So, I was on my way over, and I got there, and he’s like “Man, the whole thing just fell out. It’s done.” It was cool to know that an experience I was living was worthy of a song.

She did leave the next morning for California, just like the song says. I fell in love with it [the song] and wanted to record it as soon as it was written, and as soon as I heard it. At first, I was like “I don’t know, who’s gonna record this song, but I really feel like it should be me.” I don’t think anybody could relate to it more.

I got to work on it pretty quickly, just to make it mine. This is one year later, almost exactly, since that story took place, and we’re finally getting it out.

Teddy Robb (Photo: Robert Chavers / Sweet Talk PR)

AS: Is this new batch of songs, including recent singles “Stay Single” and “Pretty Things,” an extension of Get Away With It (2022), or are they all coming from a different place?

TR: It’s a new place in life. Sonically, Get Away With It was the start of finding my sound, but as far as content goes, it’s a completely different place. This whole EP, I picked the songs and wrote a lot of them out of a place of falling in love, and a whole new chapter of life. For me, I don’t feel like I’m the same person I was a year and a half ago. On “Pretty Things” (2022 single), I built a house last year, and that song was another solo write.

On this project (upcoming EP), there are two solo writes from friends of mine. That was one where I had just framed the house, and we were sitting next to it by a campfire, and my friend (Kyle Sturrock) played me “Pretty Things.” That song came from living in a little tiny condo to the two of us having a home that I was putting my life savings into it.

This whole EP is kind of a new chapter of life for me, for sure.

AS: Sonically, what did you want to approach differently for this EP?

TR: Production-wise, on this patch I really wanted my vocal out front more. I think the melodies on the songs are really unique, and I truly believe in my voice now and just want it to be heard, so we definitely bumped the vocal up a little more on these. I’m a huge critic of my voice. Most of the time, I hate the way it sounds, and on “Question the Universe,” I really liked the warmth of it in the verses.

AS: What are some of the underlying threads between these new songs?

TR: All of them are just little snapshots in my life. The next song is called “Going Back Home.” It’s about not giving up, and the hook goes, I’m not going back home. It’s just a story of having to stick through it. I’ve been through a little bit now in this town [Nashville] and been here for a little while. With that, you have highs and lows. I’ve definitely had my moments thinking, “Should I go home? This next song is a story about deciding to stick with it, dig my heels in a little deeper in this town, and just keep at it. 

“Question the Universe” comes from being here for a long time and making friends who are great songwriters, living life, and taking chances on love. On “Stay Single,” as an artist, it is sometimes easier being single, but when you meet the right person… 

All these songs are definitely where I’m at in life now, whereas, with my first two EPs, I was mostly single and on the road.

AS: Though it’s only been three years since your debut (self-titled) EP, do songs still come to you, in the same way, these days?

TR: When I got my record deal in 2018-2019, I felt like I was writing because I needed songs to sing, and it was from a place of “I have this title. I think this could be a melody, and it could be a hit.” I was writing from a place of being an artist and needing songs. I wasn’t dying to pick up my guitar and write a song. It was more like, “I want to get better at performing,” and it was all about going out on the road and being an artist.

Nowadays, I find I’m writing because I want to write. It’s not because I need songs. I’m writing more because I want to write these days. That’s what shifted the most, and in 2020 I realized that I love writing, and it’s not a means to an end any more.

Photo: “Question the Universe” Cover Art / Sweet Talk PR

Leave a Reply

9 Famous Husband and Wife Bands