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It has been a dramatic rise for Brett Young: His single "In Case You Didn't Know" is now No. 2 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
He's out with a debut studio album and is currently touring. Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson speaks with Young (@BrettYoungMusic) about his success as a singer, and how a baseball injury in college turned his focus toward music.
On Young's inspiration for his hit single, "In Case You Didn't Know"
"Well, I think most guys can relate to being bad at expressing their feelings, and this one came about kind of funny for us because it was originally a conversation that we were having about one of the other writers, Trent Tomlinson, and something that him and his mom had when he was a kid where every time he'd leave the house, she'd stop him on his way out the door and say, 'Hey, Trent, in case you didn't know, I love you.' We thought, 'How sweet is that? Right? But also, we probably don't want to write a song about your mom, so, let's try to figure out how we we're going to twist that.' And I think that was the common thread that we could all kind of relate to, was, you know, being men and being bad at expressing our feelings, and you know, for the most part, it's not even that we don't want to say the things that women need to hear, we're just bad at it, and we're aware of that."
On his journey into the music industry
"Baseball was a big part of most of my life, but I think growing up in the church and listening to music and playing music, just kind of because that's what you did growing up in church and Christian school, it was always kind of a part of me, but baseball was the biggest part of me, and it took, you know, a career-ending elbow injury in college for me to have to kind of put life back in focus and figure out what it was that was going to make me happy. And, it was when I hurt myself, there's a large amount of depression that goes along with, you know, a career-ending injury like that when you think it's going to be your whole life, and music just at the very beginning of it all became kind of an outlet for that."
On how country music became a constant in his life
"The first country song that ever really pulled me into the genre was Tim McGraw, 'Don't Take the Girl.' And the only reason I even heard that was because I have an older sister and I was being an annoying little brother who had the front seat and control of the radio one day. She didn't like country music at the time, and the only way I could bother her, because she was busy back there kicking the back of my chair to bother me, was to blast some country radio, and I thought I was doing it to bother her, but the joke was on me because 'Don't Take the Girl' came on and I fell in love. And I think that was like '93, and so I've been a country music fan ever since."
"There's a large amount of depression that goes along with, you know, a career-ending injury like that when you think it's going to be your whole life, and music just at the very beginning of it all became kind of an outlet for that."Brett Young
On some of his musical influences growing up
"You know, I do think that there's — in my house growing up, my parents were big fans of soul music, so I listened to a lot of Smokey Robinson, or, you know, Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, or you know, Sam Cooke and things like that, and some of those have spilled over into my style of singing."
On channeling his emotion and putting his song "Mercy" on the album
"You know, I always feel like as a music consumer, I always want that kind of slow, stripped-down, personal song to close out the record just when I'm the one listening, and so we put it there on purpose for that reason. But also, that song wasn't going to make the record. We had 11 songs already completely picked out. We had put out originally a six-song EP, and when we went to finish the record, we found out that there's just a thing with iTunes where, when you put out the rest of the record, it has to be at least twice as long as the EP, and it was like a very happy accident because in the 11th hour I got to sneak my favorite song onto the record because of a technicality. And so, it was not only the last one to make the record, also I just wanted to put that really personal song, that stripped-down one, at the end."
On the theme of drinking in country music
"I realize in country music we probably are the quickest to talk about that, but I think, you know, in heartbreak, that's pretty universal in terms of in life, you know? And so, I think country is really comfortable to say it, but I think everybody can relate."
On his commitment to making music for the entire country audience
"I just decided, regardless of what it was that I did for a living, if I ever was in the public eye that I wanted to be one of those people that, specifically with music, where, you know, a mom might have a 13-year-old daughter and wants to go to a country music show, but doesn't have to leave her daughter at home because she's uncomfortable about the content, you know? I just never understood why lines had to be blurred in order to get messages across."
On his experience with stardom
"For me, the coolest thing is to have a song not only that you perform as an artist and that's on your record and that you've sent to radio, but a song that you wrote, as well, to have that sung back to you when you're on stage. The coolest time that that's happened was when I got go back and play my hometown a couple months back. We played the Hollywood Bowl, and that was a huge bucket list venue for me. It's just incredible. I grew up going to concerts there, and so to walk out as the first of three and have it be full was already incredible, but then to have all my friends and family and my hometown crowd singing one of my songs back to me, I think that was the coolest experience I've had so far."
This segment aired on August 2, 2017.
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