As a singer/songwriter, Brett Eldredge has always woven real-life experiences into his songs. But maybe none more so than a song called Magnolia from his brand new album Sunday Drive.
The lyrics go
I was the third string tight end
6’2″ and shy
She was the banker’s daughter
Was the middle of July
And so in a phone call to our show on the day of the album’s release we asked him, was he his team’s 3rd string tight end in high school?
“I think I was actually the 2nd string tight end…and it was before I got really big- I’m almost 6’5 and I was not that big at that moment and so I quit at that point.”
So, what happened to the girl in the song? Brett laughed and ‘fessed up that he may have taken some creative license with her.
“Ha…it’s somewhat true. It’s more about, like, that first love…you think that’s what love is, you see the world in a magic way, and in the youth and innocence of all that, and the discovery…and it’s magic for you.”
Brett’s album has a very “hometown”, nostalgic feeling overall, but not in a cliche’d overly-sentimental way. Good Day, The One You Need, Crowd My Mind…the songs have an emotional depth not often found in contemporary country right now, and it’s something Brett felt could only be achieved by letting those working on the album with him experience firsthand, so he took them all on a trip to his actual hometown of Paris, Illinois.
“Being able to go back home, and taking my producers and songwriters … with me, and show them what it’s like growing up in the middle of nowhere, in the ‘heart of the Heartland’, as I call it…it was just a unique way to grow up and I think it gives you unique stories to write about and I think it’s important to show people that.”
He explained it a little further on my podcast, Write You a Song, saying he wanted them to see the neighborhood streets and the town square and experience Midwest hospitality, “which is way different from the South’s hospitality“. It was the only way he could feel comfortable that, going into the project, everyone was on the same page. They even recorded in the Midwest, in Chicago.
And it looks like it worked: the album is getting positive reviews (one country music fan and journalist, Cody Goodwin, tweeted that it is “a different direction from his previous work – and a lot of what’s out there. It’s like a warm cup of cider on a rainy autumn afternoon and that makes my soul happy.”)
But now that it, and the first single, Gabrielle, are out…. is Brett worried that because of the pandemic and the moratorium on touring he won’t be able to market it the way its normally done, by hitting the road? To hear his answer to that (and the whole interview), just click below. (And yes, that is me vigorously clearing my throat at the very end of the interview. Hey, it’s the pandemic. Everything’s crazy.)