OFFSTAGE: The Stories Behind Darius Rucker’s New Tunes

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

Darius Rucker‘s third country album doesn’t come out until January, but he let a handful of people listen to the songs live Tuesday (Oct. 30) in the Ford Theater at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. And if the album’s even half as good as the stories behind the songs, it’s going to be a massive hit record. Here are some of my favorite songs, along with thoughts from Rucker and the other songwriters about the new material.

“Take Me Home”
Frank Rogers: “I was getting ready to go to Charleston with Darius,” Frank Rogers said. “So I played Barbie with my little girl, played basketball with my son, took my wife out for a nice dinner and a bottle of wine and whatever happens after that. Or so I thought. I get home, go brush my teeth, she turns the TV on, and I’m like, ‘I’m gonna wait about two minutes and make my move.’ Then I lean over — she’s sound asleep. But I’m a songwriter who’s had a half a bottle of wine, thinking I’m getting some something, so I go in the closet and start writing this song. We wrote it the next day. So four months later, I asked her thoughts on the song, and she goes, ‘Oh, my God, it’s so great. It’s so passionate. Now who’d Darius write that with?’ I said me, but it’s about him and Beth [Rucker].”

“Leavin’ the Light On”
Rucker: “We had written a song, and once we’ve written a song, I’m out. So I was leaving, and he started playing this, and I was like, ‘We gotta write that. The thing I love about this song, is this is Charleston. My wife loves this song.”

“Love Without You”
Brandy Clark: “We were on a writing retreat, and I had to go to the bathroom. Great ideas come in the bathroom sometimes. And the hook just came to me in the bathroom. So I walked back and said, ‘Shane [McAnally], has anybody ever written a song that says I’ve figured out how to live without you — I just don’t know if I can love without you? And Shane just goes, ‘Somebody’s about to.’”

“Lost in You”
Rucker: “My wife said when she heard this song, ‘So? You had fun on spring break?’ I was like, ‘Honey, that was 25 years ago. Come on. I’m just writing a song.’ And she goes, ‘So do you still think about her?’”

“Wagon Wheel”
Rucker: “I’d heard this song years ago, but then I was at my daughter’s school talent show, and I’m sitting there and the faculty band comes out and starts playing ‘Wagon Wheel.’ I forgot how great this song was. So I’m texting Frank, ‘You know that song, “Wagon Wheel”?’ He comes back with, ‘I know that song, and a lot of people have cut it.’ We cut it any way, and we got Lady A to come sing on it.”

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