BE HERE-CUT BY CUT IN HIS WORDS
DAYS GO BY: (Monty Powell and Keith Urban)
I wrote “Days Go By” with Monty Powell. Like a lot of my songs, “Days Go By” started with a guitar
riff. There’s a Celtic overtone in there, an Irish jig thing. I thought I had a good chorus, but I was
singing “All of This Time.” So I took it to Monty who came up with “Days Go By.” I didn’t even know
if the song would make the album, but I played it for my co-producer Dann Huff and Dann said we
should try it. I was worried the lyrics were just a little too simple, but I guess the thing is it’s a
simple message. You realize there’s a reason why clichés exist -- they resonate with the truth.
BETTER LIFE: (Richard Marx and Keith Urban)
I became friends with Richard Marx a couple of years ago through a mutual acquaintance. I didn’t
see that we would necessarily click musically, but I was reminded I wrote “But For The Grace of
God” with two of the Go-Gos, so you never know. We wrote a couple of things and they were good,
but just didn’t seem suitable for me. Then Richard said, “You should come out to the house.” He
has a beautiful house in Chicago. I flew out there and I took my banjo, which seems to be a good
luck charm for me. Richard got a little drum loop groove going and I started this banjo riff and the
melody came out. We wrote “Better Life” that night. I thought of calling the album Better Life
because everybody wants one.
MAKING MEMORIES OF US: (Rodney Crowell)
I’m a huge Rodney Crowell fan and have been for a long, long time. Rodney co-wrote a few songs
that made my last album Golden Road. We didn’t really make the time to try and write together on
this album, but fortunately Larry Willoughby from Capitol sent me this amazing song that Rodney
had written as a Valentine’s gift to his wife Claudia. It’s one of the most beautiful lyrics I’ve ever
heard. Lines like “I want to sleep with you forever” are startlingly simple and beautiful -- there’s
something gritty and sexually romantic about the song. I really wanted to cut “Making Memories of
Us,” but it’s sacred ground cutting a Rodney Crowell song. We re-cut it quite a few times before I
felt like we got it right. Rodney came in to hear our version the last day and gave me his two
thumbs up, so I was very grateful for that.
GOD’S BEEN GOOD TO ME: (Keith Urban)
This song was written very quickly sitting in my hotel room with the banjo. I was feeling grateful to
be in Nashville making music and having it be heard. “God’s Been Good To Me” is about the joy of
being able to do what I love doing. There’s a line talking about being “in the heart of the city here
my dreams have come alive.” I couldn’t be more grateful for landing in this place where all my
childhood dreams are coming true.
THE HARD WAY: (Rivers Rutherford and Gordie Sampson)
I was in my car driving and going through my mail, doin’ the multi tasking thing, and I came across
“The Hard Way, sent to me by Mike Dungan (President of Capitol Nashville).” I slipped the CD in
and boom, what a great lyric and melody. The song resonated with me, lyrically and melodically. I
loved the fact that it didn’t really say whether this couple in the song was going to break up or find
a way to make their relationship work, but whatever is going to happen, it’s going to be done the
hard way. I love when a song can let you read into it what is relevant for you. As you grow up, you
start to recognize how hard it is keeping a relationship together. I’m beginning to appreciate the
work involved and perhaps the areas where I could not put in the work. Still, I really wish I had
been a little more compassionate and aware of what is required to keep a relationship together.
YOU’RE MY BETTER HALF: (John Shanks and Keith Urban)
In one-way or another, everyone seems to have a better half -- or you can always hope. If the title
doesn’t give it away, this is definitely a love song. “You’re My Better Half” started from a riff I
liked and the lyrics came quickly. John Shanks – who I co-wrote this one with – suggested the title.
We were surprised there wasn’t a big song by that title already. For some reason, I seem to
collaborate well with other guitar players. Like Dann Huff, John’s a guitar player and an
extraordinarily good one too. John writes a lot with people like Sheryl Crow, Stevie Nicks, Michelle
Branch and lots of other artists. I would be curious to know if they feel the same way I do -- that
John just brings something out of you by just being there. I don’t know what that is, but it’s a
I COULD FLY: (John Shanks and Keith Urban)
Dann, John Shanks, and I started with a simple little groove and we went for the most basic lyrics
possible. I do love the message of someone giving you back your love and your faith and your life.
I’m also very grateful when the one who did these wonderful things is not specifically described.
It may be male, female, God, or even your Jack Russell. Anyway, the thank you is intended for you,
whoever “you” is.
TONIGHT I WANNA CRY: (Monty Powell and Keith Urban)
I dabble on the piano quite badly, just enough not to get in the way of the songwriting. Monty Powell
and I actually wrote this two or three years ago. I was drawing on that place where you’ve had a
relationship just collapse and suddenly you’re on your own. You’ve kept stuff inside for so long. And
some people don’t know how to cry. I’ve never been that kind of person. I do love a good cry every
now and then and man you feel a whole lot better when you do. Since I gave up drinking, I wrestled
with having a song on the record that blatantly admits to being “drunk enough to cry” which is
perhaps not something my sponsor would endorse. But that’s where I was at when I wrote the song.
I just couldn’t justify taking that line out of “Tonight I Wanna Cry.” At first I thought it might be
a bit early for me to put out a big piano ballad. But Dann Huff said, “No, you should be making a
record that is about who you are.”
SHE’S GOTTA BE: (Monty Powell and Keith Urban)
We were doing The Tonight Show and The Sharon Osborne Show the same night. I was sitting in
the dressing room waiting to go on and checking to make sure my acoustic guitar was in tune. The
intro riff came out -- then this melody came with it and I sang this into my phone. It wasn’t a
predictable melody going with that riff, but they went together in an odd but great way. When
songs come to you like that, you realize you’re just a conduit for something. Ultimately I took the
song to Monty Powell because for the life of me I could not think of a second verse. When Monty
gave me the second verse and tweaked some other spots, it blew my mind. I’m so grateful for the
way Monty saw it and heard it because this wouldn’t have been the song it is without that input.
NOBODY DRINKS ALONE: (Matraca Berg and Jim Collins)
“Nobody Drinks Alone” came from being that guy in the song -- from being in that place. I like that
the song is not necessarily just about drinking, it’s about being accountable for your actions in this
life. The point is that no matter where you are, and what you are doing, there’s always another
presence. Call it your conscious, call it God, whatever you will, but it can be what you need to turn
to when you’re doing less than healthy things.
COUNTRY COMFORT: (Elton John and Bernie Taupin)
“Country Comfort” is a beautiful song from Elton John’s Tumbleweed Connection album, which for
me is some of Elton and Bernie Taupin’s greatest work. We wanted to bring the song to a whole new
group of people who haven’t heard it before. My own first introduction to “Country Comfort” was
through Juice Newton covering it on one of her albums in the Eighties on the same album that had
“Angel in the Morning” on it. I just loved that song. I was 15 or so and I didn’t realize “Country
Comfort” was an Elton song until a decade later. So my version is probably a combination of Juice’s
and Elton’s. Purists will freak out, but that’s the way it is. I just hope we’ve done the song justice.
We tried to keep our version as organic as possible.
LIVE TO LOVE ANOTHER DAY: (Darrell Brown and Keith Urban)
I wrote this one with Darrell Brown, who I first came across through a Radney Foster album called
See What You Want to See, which had the original version of “Raining On Sunday” co-written by
Darrell. I grew up loving John Fogerty and his “less chords, more melody” approach to songwriting.
I also just love hook-y choruses. This one was as fun to write as it is to play. And, the idea of
“Live To Love Another Day” strikes a chord with anybody who’s knocked down. I think we’re all
continually learning the importance of getting back up.
THESE ARE THE DAYS: (Monty Powell and Keith Urban)
When Monty and I wrote “Days Go By,” we just wanted to keep playing the song. Like “Somebody
Like You,” that one’s so fun to play you could end up with a twelve-minute song. We thought about
doing one of those things where you break down at the end of the song and slowly build it back up.
But we did that on “Somebody Like You,” so we thought, let’s just write Part II of the song and
tack it on the end. Then we wrote this song and it seemed like it could bookend the album. This is
an album about being in the moment -- realizing life is happening right now – so saying “These Are
The Days” seems relevant. If you are alive, these are the days.