Luke Laird Funnels Honesty, Gratitude, And Admiration For ‘Music Row’ Into Debut Record

Luke Laird. Photo: Spencer Combs

After 24 No. 1 songs, Grammys, ACMs, and multiple other honors, lauded songwriter/producer Luke Laird released his first-ever album today (Sept. 18).

In a project aptly titled Music Row, the hit-maker behind monster country hits including Carrie Underwood’s “So Small,” “Temporary Home,” and “Undo It”; Eric Church’s “Drink in My Hand,” “Give Me Back My Hometown,” and “Talladega”; Little Big Town’s “Pontoon,” Kenny Chesney’s “American Kids,” Lady A’s “Downtown,” Jon Pardi’s “Head Over Boots,” and many more, Laird finally tells his story of how a kid from Hartstown, Pennsylvania made it on Music Row, where he has made a lasting mark on country music.

When the idea came up for him to put out his own music, Laird says support from his wife, and Creative Nation CEO and Co-Owner, Beth Laird, sealed the deal.

“Every time I write something, I’m always happy for anybody else to cut it,” Laird says. “But I realized I started having this collection of songs that were more personal. A few of them I wrote just to write, and then once I realized I had a few that were more personal, then I focused on writing for myself.

“Beth suggested [making an album]. She said, ‘Why don’t you just make an album so these songs can actually get heard?’ That was really all the encouragement I needed.”

The title track shows Laird’s affinity for the magic of Music City and country music.

“For me, the first time I came [to Nashville], I had never seen anything like it,” Laird says. “Even the actual physical music row, thinking about all these writers that I grew up to admire and are kind of my heroes, that I’m doing the same thing they were doing in a little house on music row, writing a song. There’s just something to me that’s really cool about that, and to get to continue to be a part of that tradition is really neat.”

 

Laird wrote every song with no co-writers, other than “Branch On The Tree,” which he wrote with Barry Dean and Lori McKenna, which makes for a deeply personal chronicle of Laird’s life and career. Perhaps the most strikingly personal song is “That’s Why I Don’t Drink Anymore,” a pain-tinged song of hope to recover from addiction.

“I played that song one night at the Bluebird. It was the first time I played it out and this young lady came up to me, she’s a Belmont student and she had tears in her eyes and she was like, ‘I love that song so much. It makes me think about my dad. Do you have a copy of that?’ Of course at the time, I didn’t. I actually went home that night and made a work tape of it and I got her email and sent it to her. When it came time to choose songs for the album, it was pretty much a no brainer [to include the song]. I thought of that one experience and thought, ‘I wonder if there’s anybody else that can connect to it,'” Laird says.

Another profoundly personal song on the record deals with Laird’s grief after losing his childhood best friend.

“I think about what you’d be doin’ right now, your kids and my kids, they’d be hangin’ out. They’d be laughing about the clothes we wore and how much root beer we drank on your mama’s porch,” Laird sings.

While the record skillfully covers darkness, it also effortlessly sheds light on the many bright spots of Laird’s life. The charming, breezy “Hangin’ Out” tells the story of the Creative Nation power couple, from their early days, to building the beautiful life they have now. “Jake and Mack” further tells that story, in a love letter to the couple’s sons.

Photo: Spencer Combs

“Why I Am Who I Am” sums Laird’s childhood, the family he made, and his contentment. “The truth is I’m a product of a lot of love,” Laird sings, believably.

The project concludes with an ode to the music that has enriched his life and given him a career, in “Country Music Will Never Die.” The opening verse in the tune gives an ode to ’90s country, Laird’s favorite genre.

He continues to pay his respect to ’90s country on his new Apple Music Radio show, Country Replay Radio, where he helps listeners rediscover their favorite country hits from the ’90s to now while diving into the stories and songwriters behind those songs.

“Doing the radio show, it’s like when you write a song, you take yourself back into being a fan again. When you turn on the radio, what do you like to listen to?” Laird says. “That’s a little different than when you’re just sitting in a room, trying to come up with a great line. But playing songs for an hour on the radio, you do that a little differently than if you’re just sitting in a writing room. And believe me, I have so much more respect for real radio personalities at this point because I’m like ‘Oh my goodness, I’m so green. But it really has been a lot of fun.”

Read more of this interview in the upcoming MusicRow print issue.

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About the Author

LB Cantrell is Project Manager at MusicRow magazine. She heads up specific, large-scale projects for the company and assists in day-to-day tasks. LB also manages the MusicRow Top Songwriter Chart and contributes editorial for both the print and online platforms. She joined MusicRow full time in January of 2019, after interning and working part time for the company for a year. She is from Blairsville, Georgia and graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a Music Business degree in 2018.

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