Keith Urban Reflects on Writing Growth


Keith Urban on the set of GAC Nights.

June 23, 2009 — Keith Urban is one of country music’s dominant artists at the moment, but he’s also one of the genre’s most important songwriters. He’s recorded more than 20 bona fide hits and written nearly two-thirds of them.

That songwriting success didn’t happen overnight. In fact, Keith had already been writing and recording music in Australia before he ever made his first venture to work with Nashville songwriters in 1990. That was, however, a turning point. In his first four days in town, he wrote with Gary Burr, Dave Loggins, Trey Bruce and Austin Cunningham, who between them have authored such songs as Alabama’s "Forty Hour Week (For A Livin’)," Diamond Rio’s "How Your Love Makes Me Feel" and LeAnn Rimes’ "Nothin’ ‘Bout Love Makes Sense." It was a daunting experience.

"To get to write with so many great writers in such a short space of time was quite a crash course," Keith remembers. "I would drive down to Music Row for that day’s writing appointment, often crying in the car on the way to the writing appointment ‘cause it was hard. It was just hard, and I didn’t know if I could do it, and it seemed like there were so many mornings of that, thrust together with somebody at 10 a.m. who I’ve never met, we’ve gotta become intimate and write a song before lunchtime. And all of that. And that went on for years."

Keith wanted to succeed badly enough that the difficulty never got him down for long. It took nine years from his first Nashville writing appointment until he cracked the American Top 20 with one of his songs. That was during the summer 10 years ago. Now he’s having his songs sung back to him nightly on the Escape Together World Tour.

"I look back and realize that was an extraordinary, important part of songwriting for me," Keith says of the fallow years. Nashville "is so wonderful for that. I think the greatest writers are here."

Keith’s current single, "Kiss A Girl," is still in the Top 5, but he’s already got the next one lined up. He’ll release "Only You Can Love Me This Way," from the Defying Gravity album, next Monday. On Saturday, he’ll film the video during his concert at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Opening that show is Taylor Swift.