Dan + Shay: “Love Keeps You Alive”

No. 1 Song Built in Akron, Ohio

No wonder Dan + Shay’s song “From the Ground Up” just hit the top of the charts. Because it’s a true story — and one of true love.

“The day we wrote that song, I drove back from my grandfather’s funeral in Ohio, and when I got back to Nashville, I went over Chris DeStefano’s to write with him and Shay (Mooney),” Dan Smyers told me. “We were going to be working on another song. We had no intention of writing a song that day.

“But we started sharing stories about growing up and going to our grandparents’ houses and how we looked up to them and strive to have what they have. About an hour and a half later, the song had just poured out. It kind of wrote itself.

“The beauty of songwriting and co-writing is that everyone can take their own story and put into a pot and stir it up and create something new,” he added.

Smyers said his grandparents lived a very small house their whole 65-year marriage and raised five children there, just like the picture the song paints.

I assumed his grandmother loved Dan + Shay’s recording of the song when she heard it. But sadly, she’d died, too, about a year after Smyers’ grandfather.

“They always say that’s how it is sometimes. You live for each other. And when someone passes, their significant other follows suit,” he said, “because love keeps you alive.”

He’s hoping this tribute to that kind of love will live on for everyone who hears it, and he knows that he and Mooney will think about their own grandparents when they sing that song now or 10 years from now.

Still, they were both initially reluctant to release a song that’s so autobiographical.

“It’s scary when it’s that personal, because if people don’t like it, it hurts,” he said.

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