Roundtable: Nashville Writers Discuss “I Don’t Know About You” Hitting No. 1

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“I Don’t Know About You” was recently celebrated for hitting No. 1, and all of the writers got together to discuss various thoughts surrounding the writing of a song.

American Songwriter got to sit with Ashley Gorley, Jameson Rodgers, Michael Hardy, Chris Lane, and Hunter Phelps to hear each perspective on the topic we love more than anything.

Interview with Chris Lane, Michael Hardy, Ashley Gorley, Hunter Phelps and Jameson Rodgers-

Media 

I’d like to hear from all of y’all (Chris Lane and the songwriters) what you think made this the song that everybody wanted? And who wanted it?

Chris Lane

I think lyrically it had really cool lines in it, and for whatever reason people just gravitated towards that, and even fans. I mean, a line as something as simple as, “Girl I know your favorite beer cause you told me, and I bought it”.  I watch people every single night scream that line. And obviously down to the wrist tattoo line, people would come up to the grocery store and say, “I love your bible verse tattoo song”. That’s what they refer to it as, they don’t even call it by its name. So yeah, I just think people took to it because of great lines and a great melody as well. 

Hardy

I think Bible verse for sure. There are just certain songs throughout time that the title of the song or the hook of the song was not really the line that stood out. I think it was the formula for a 52 week number one. (everybody laughs)

Media

Did anyone else almost cut it?

Hardy

I think Luke Bryan might have wanted it. But Seth and Joey and everybody was like we want it and we’ll do it right now. I think we all were like, yes, absolutely. 

Chris

I personally had heard there were several other artists who really wanted this song, and I was just the lucky man who ended up getting it. So, thank you all very much. A, for writing a monster song and B, for giving a young artist like myself a chance on it. Because it changed my life and career.

Hardy

Mine too.

Media

Take me back to the room. When you were writing the song, how did it go about?

Jameson Rodgers

It’s funny. We actually wrote a different song that day. And in typical Ashley fashion, he had 20 to 30 minutes left before he had to go pick up his daughter at basketball, I think. We finished the first song and he wanted to write another one in 20 minuets.

Hardy

What was the first song called?

Jameson Rodgers

“Single Again”

Hardy 

Oh yeah, that’s right.

Jameson Rodgers

So, we just threw out that idea (for I Don’t Know About You) and wrote maybe a third of it that day. 

Hardy

We pretty much got like the chorus.

Jameson Rodgers

Got the bones of it that day, and a couple months later finished it up. Kind of a boring story. 

Hardy

We finished the chorus up the first day, and I remember when we finished it up it didn’t take long. When we finished it up, we went to Martins Barbecue, which means it was between noon and 1 pm. We definitely got done early because we didn’t start before 11.

Jameson Rodgers

The tough life of songwriters. 

AS

I don’t know about you. So, what’s your name, what’s your sign, what’s your birthday, and do you kiss on the first date? (everyone on stage laughs)

Ashley Gorley

Taurus, but no one’s ever asked me. First date, I can’t remember that. It’s been a while. Married twenty years this year, yeah, we definitely kissed twenty years this year. We waited till the second date. That’s it. Taurus, middle of the nowhere Danville, KT. 

Hardy

Michael Hardy. Virgo. Definitely kissed on the first date. 

Chris

Chris Lane. Scorpio, I believe. And one hundred percent kissed on the first date. (laughs)

Hunter

Hunter Phelps. Libra, but I say Libro cause its manly sounding. And absolutely kiss on the first date. Yep.

Jameson

Jameson Rodgers. Have no idea what my sign is. October 17th.

Hardy

A libra

Jameson

Cool I’m a Libra. Or Libro. Should I get that tattooed? And yeah, on the first date. 

AS

Thanks for appeasing us, guys.

Everyone

You’re welcome haha.

Media

Chris, my question is for you. Has anyone come up to you and told you they use your lyrics for pickup lines?

Chris

At this point I don’t believe anyone said they use the lines. A lot of couples come up and say, “This is our song” or “This is our story” kind of thing. So, nothing in particular with the lines, but I feel like these guys definitely wrote out a blueprint for all guys going on a first date. These guys will listen to this song to know the questions to ask. 

Hardy

I never even did that. I would just pick on girls til’ they knew I was flirting with them. 

AS

As songwriters, there had to be a turning point where you were going to be crazy enough to pursue it as a career. So, what was that moment like for each one of you? 

Ashley 

As soon as I knew what publishing was, I wanted to do that.  As soon as I figured out there was a gig where you don’t have to read music and sing great and play great, and you can still be involved in making up the songs; I was all in on that. Right after I moved here, I was like, “I’m doing that.” I always messed around with tracks and instruments growing up, so I definitely moved here to pursue it. Now there’s a long gap between there and working. I was here about eleven years before I had a song that was doing well at radio. 

Hardy

I don’t know. I always loved music, but I didn’t really get into writing until I was like a senior in high school. And I don’t know, my story, I feel like it could be better. When I was a senior, I wrote two songs because I knew how to play guitar and I was probably trying to impress a girl. But my sister went to Belmont here in Nashville and so I got these songs recorded with a guy I knew in his little home studio, just acoustic things. I was in community college and had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and my sister was like, “There is this thing called a publishing deal in Nashville where you can get paid to write songs.” So, I was like, let me try to move to Nashville to get a publishing deal. Obviously, over the course of two or three years in Nashville I really fell in love with the craft of songwriting and realizing you can move people and make people feel things. It started kicking in and I wanted to be the best, so it started coming together. I feel like I came into my own. Mine was so on a whim and I’m very thankful. I know that this is what I was meant do and that it was God pushing me in the right direction. But I never had a defining moment. It was more like, I’ll try it out and see what happens, and now here we are.  

Chris

I think for me I never knew I wanted to do anything with music. I was always involved with sports growing up, and I felt like that is what I was great at. But when I graduated college and was learning how to play guitar and play and sing at the same time, I started a cover band and became extremely passionate for the touring side of things and being an artist. I don’t think at the time I was thinking, “Oh man, I want to be a country artist one day that will have a song on the radio.” Songwriting was kind of an afterthought. I would go out and play all my favorite artists like Kenny Chesney, Eric Church, Jason Aldean. I would just go cover those songs every night and play for four hours. I started thinking about trying to write songs so I would find myself writing some very terrible songs…but you start somewhere right? And I would always find myself saying, “What would Kenny Chesney say if he were writing this song?” I sat down and wrote twelve terrible songs that eventually led to me getting a publishing deal and a record deal. When it comes to the songwriting aspect of things, I haven’t had the success that these guys have had. I have spent an incredible amount of time out on the road and I have focused more on the touring side and trying to build a fanbase. Sometimes I wish I had focused more on the songwriting side of things and maybe my career could have progressed quicker with better songs. I had no idea my whole life that I would end up in this position, but I absolutely love it. To be able to write a song like “Big, Big Plans” that connects with the crowd is super special. 

Hunter

I definitely had a moment where I knew was going to move to Nashville. I had been writing songs for a couple years in college when I went to the University of Florida. I got an internship my junior year with a mechanical company; I was in construction school there. I guess I was doing a good job because the president called me into his office one day and said they were ready to start paying me now if I committed to working with them once I was done with college. And it kind of all flashed in my head at one time, and I was like “I can’t.” He asked why not, and I told him I’m going to go to Nashville to write songs. He was like “Well okay, good luck man. Call me if it doesn’t work out.” I called my dad right after that and told him they offered me a job, and he was like “What did you say?” I told him I was going to Nashville and it went dead silent. He called me back later and said “I think you should do it.” 

Jameson

My story is kind of similar to Michael’s. I mean, I didn’t pick the guitar up till I was a senior in college. I had the first Eric Church record in my truck for like three years. That was the first record that I heard that made me think, I want to write songs like that. I went down to Southern Miss and a few of my roommates wanted to get into writing songs, too. We wrote a handful of songs and soon people were coming up and asking us to play songs. I talked one of my buddies into moving to Nashville and we didn’t know a soul here. 

Media

Where were you and what were you doing when you found out the song was #1?

Chris Lane

Gosh, that is a great question. I’m not sure. Actually, I may have been in Europe with Brad Paisley when I got the news. I couldn’t wait for this day to be able to celebrate it. It is the biggest song of my career thus far, and a song that has changed my life and career in a big way and I am very, very grateful for all these guys up here on this stage.

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