Keith Urban’s performance of “Blue Ain’t Your Color” at Friday’s (March 3) No. 1 party marked a full circle moment for songwriter Steven Lee Olsen.
Urban shared the stage at Nashville’s Basement East with the Toronto native and co-writers Clint Lagerberg and Hillary Lindsey, honoring Olsen’s first No. 1.
For years, Olsen has been one of Urban’s biggest fans, moving to Nashville 11 years ago after seeing the “Somebody Like You” music video on CMT Canada.
“I remember playing my guitar in my mom’s living room,” he recalled, “and I remember it was the first time it made me realize that I didn’t have to be anything I wasn’t. That being said it gave me the courage to move to Nashville.”
“Blue Ain’t Your Color” was originally intended for Olsen’s full-length debut as an artist. He wouldn’t let his publisher Cornman Music pitch the song to any artist because he wanted it exclusively for his own album. But when Urban’s camp called looking for material for his Ripcord album, Olsen has happy to give the waltz away.
Urban fell in love with the song as soon as he heard it and understood the gravity of Olsen’s decision to let him have the song.
“As a writer,” Urban said, “I so understand the conundrum of writing a song like that and knowing, ’This could either be the launching vehicle for me. What do I do?’ I cannot thank you enough for believing in me to do that song. That means the world to me because I value that song as much as you do. I know what that means to you to create something like that. They’re rare. You don’t just give them away. Thank you so much for believing in me.”
The title originally came to Olsen at midnight after a nap on the couch at home. The TV was on when he saw the word “Blue” on the screen. He saved the idea in a note on his phone and presented it to Lagerberg and Lindsey to help him finish it.
“Blue Ain’t Your Color” is Urban’s fourth consecutive No. 1 from Ripcord. It was nominated for best country song at the 59th annual Grammy Awards in February, and it’s currently nominated for the ACM’s song of the year and single record of the year.
When Capitol Nashville president and CEO Mike Dungan presented commemorative trophies to the songwriters, he shared some statistics reflecting the song’s popularity. “Blue Ain’t Your Color” was among the biggest all-genre songs on Spotify in 2016. For 11 weeks, the song was the No. 1 most downloaded country song with 840,000 tracks sold. It peaked at No. 1 on Billboard’s country airplay chart in January.
Dungan also presented plaques for Ripcord debuting at No. 1 in the United States, Australia and Canada and for “Blue Ain’t Your Color” being the most-streamed country song for 13 weeks. Billboard’s Jim Asker presented a plaque for 37 Top 10 career singles. Pandora’s Beville Dunkerley presented a plaque commemorating Urban’s cumulative 2 billion audio streams as well as 40 million streams thus far for the song.
Before leaving the stage, Urban acknowledged that 2017 marks his 20th year as a signed recording artist with Capitol Nashville.
“I feel exactly the same as I moved to town in ’92,” Urban said. “I don’t feel any different. I go into the studio excited, curious, scared and feeling like I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.
“I heard someone say recently that humility is just remaining teachable, and I think for me, I’m so teachable because I’m so fascinated, curious, hungry and passionate about music — about where it can go and what it can do. That just keeps me humming along. I have the most incredible family at home. It makes all of this real.”
The event ran approximately two hours with speeches and award presentations from Billboard, Country Radio Broadcasters, Pandora and praises from each songwriters’ publishers. The long run time was to be expected to celebrate such a smash.