OFFSTAGE: Keith Urban Writer Loves Song He Didn’t Write

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

There’s not a Keith Urban song of Monty Powell’s that I don’t love. I mean, the list of his songwriting genius goes on and on. And on. (“Days Go By,” “Tonight I Want to Cry,” “Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me,” “Tu Compania,” “Raise the Barn,” “Sweet Thing,” “Kiss a Girl” and more. ) But there’s one song he didn’t write for Urban that is actually Powell’s favorite. We were chatting at Tuesday night’s (Nov. 7) SESAC Nashville Awards, where Powell was awarded for his Urban hit “‘Til Summer Comes Around,” and he told me Urban’s “You’ll Think of Me” is one he wishes he’d written. (That credit goes to Darrell Brown, Ty Lacy and Dennis Matkosky.) “I’ve had so many big Keith Urban songs, and I see him live all the time and there’s 10,000 people singing my songs at top of their lungs. But every time I hear him sing that one, it just slays me,” Powell told me. And I asked him if he had any songs he wishes he didn’t write. “Yes. All of them before 1987,” he laughed. “Before I could write a melody, I just wanted to write my own words. So I would — to John Denver melodies like ‘Sunshine on My Shoulders.’ I still have that notebook with my own words. They were always about the same thing — girls, girls and girls.” He said you really have to learn the craft of songwriting, and when he listens back to his early stuff, he cringes. “You have to form the ability to craft a song,” he said. “You cannot cross the hit-song finish line on creativity alone.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.