OFFSTAGE: From “Piece of Wood” to “1994″

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

Songs like Jason Aldean ‘s “1994″ don’t just happen overnight. They usually come from a lifetime of loving country music and honing the songwriting craft. At least, that’s the case with Thomas Rhett , one of the song’s writers. He’s the son of Rhett Akins, a country singer-songwriter who taught his son well.

“My dad dug out a bunch of home videos the other day, and I found a video of the first song I ever wrote with dad,” Rhett told me, describing his dad as a walking jukebox. “We filmed it in the kitchen, and it was called ‘Piece of Wood.’ It’s about building a guitar. And it was horrible. But I was 7. Music’s always been a gene in me. I played all kinds of music as a kid — punk, rock, pop, everything — but by the ninth grade, I just kind of came back around to country.”

And throughout all that experimenting, Rhett listened to a lot of Joe Diffie , especially when his dad was on tour with Diffie.

“As much as everyone thinks the song ["1994"] is an ode to Joe Diffie, it’s really just talking about taking a girl on a date and letting Joe Diffie be your serenading music,” he said. “When Jason heard it, it brought him back to the ’90s. And he kills it, man. He sings his butt off.”

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