Chris Tompkins and Rodney Clawson, the writers behind Florida Georgia Line’s latest smash “Dirt,” recently talked to Billboard magazine about how the song started. Or where it started — in Tompkins’ hometown in Alabama.
“My hometown is pretty much an oak tree, a volunteer fire department and a high school football team,” Tompkins said. “Oh, and a funeral home.” So those opening lines like “You get your hands in it/Plant your roots in it” came from him.
Then Clawson said he wanted to add something about commitment, a concept so many country songs are missing these days.
“I just kind of threw out the ’10 percent down, white-picket-fence house’ line. That kind of sealed the deal on the song, kind of nailed it home,” Clawson said. “We kind of got a girl in there a little bit, but then we want to marry this girl, we want to build her a house and raise a family and all that.”
(My favorite part of the song is that it doesn’t just end with the blue-eyed girl taking her muddy jeans off. We get to find out what happened after that.)
The next couple days of building the song ended with, well, the end.
“We kind of fought in our minds not to put that in there,” says Clawson of the idea in the chorus about being buried in dirt. “We thought that was the obvious, Biblical thing to kind of throw in there, and then by the time we got to the end of the song, the way it was written it just seemed like it had to be in there — ’You know you came from it/Someday you’ll return to it.’
“And then if you ever grow up on a farm or in that rural country, it seems like it always keeps pulling you back, and someday you’ll end up back there, so it was the whole double meaning.”
The band’s Brian Kelley thinks the song has something even more than good solid roots.
“It has that Garth factor,” he said. “Everyone’s gonna be singing that song for a long time. We relate to it, man. It just feels like our lives.”