Jake Owen Happy With the Slow Climb

New Song Gets Overwhelming Response from Fans and Peers

Picture this: It’s dead quiet. Jake Owen sits down at a piano and starts singing “What We Ain’t Got.”

Goosebumps, right?

“It’s this big arena, but you can hear a pin drop,” Owen told me during a recent phone conversation. “And then when the song is over, the crowd just erupts. That’s exactly why I released this song.”

Owen said he considered releasing another single along the lines of his last few breezy big hits such as “Beachin’,” “Days of Gold,” “Anywhere With You” and “Alone With You.”

“I knew I could’ve released a song that was down the middle — the ones that are pleasant to hear even if you’re not listening to the words. But with this one, it makes people think,” he said, recalling some songs he grew up on, like Randy Travis‘ 1987 hit “Forever and Ever, Amen.” “Songs like that weren’t lighthearted. They actually had deep meaning. We got away from songs like that for a while.”

But “songs like that” don’t always jump ahead in the race to the top of the radio charts. And Owen is OK with that slow climb because he knows it will be worth it in the long run.

“The longer it takes a song to get to the top, the more people will hear it. And the more people hear it, the more they come to me and thank me,” he explained.

Owen has been stunned by the response the song is getting from fans, friends, followers and his country music peers. They are thanking him for releasing this song.

“What they mean by ‘thanks,’ I think, is that we all want to release songs that mean something and say something that’s poignant and will last forever,” he said. “We all have the opportunity to do that. We all work ourselves to a point where we have a platform and to a point where people are listening.

“It’s up to us what we do with that platform. Do we feed people something that’s just OK — something kind of down the middle that will work?” Owen said he asked himself, adding the mantra from his “Beachin'” song: “Whatever happens, happens.”

But his hope for this song — which he says is the favorite one he’s ever recorded — is that radio makes room for what’s next.

“I don’t think we have enough songs right now that make you go, ‘Man, have you heard that song?'” he said.

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